2023 Alumni Awards Recognize Outstanding Graduates

  • Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023

(l. to r., standing in front of President Manion, are Kim Schaefer ’91, Eric Arnold ’06, MA ’14, Natasha Sichula '20, Colleen Settles O.P. ’71, Myra McNair, MS ’14, and Anu Ebbe, Ed.D. ‘11.)

Madison, Wis. (October 10, 2023) – Every autumn, Edgewood College honors remarkable alumni with three awards. On a beautiful September evening, these six were recognized at a wonderful ceremony honoring their work.

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Anu Ebbe, Ed.D. ‘11, and Kim Schaefer ’91. This award acknowledges the accomplishments of an alum who has achieved excellence in their professional career and has demonstrated a commitment to ethical leadership, service, and search for truth.

The Dominican Mission Award recipients are Myra McNair, MS ’14, and Colleen Settles O.P. ’71. The Dominican Mission Award recognizes an alum who has shown a commitment to social justice or a history of extraordinary volunteer service in the community, country or the world.

Our Promise Award recipients are Eric Arnold ’06, MA ’14, and Natasha Sichula ’20. The Promise Award recognizes an alum, 40 years of age or younger, who is an emerging leader and has achieved a high level of success through professional accomplishments and service to the College, or to their community.

Dr. Anu Ebbe joined the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Associate Superintendent team in 2022. Most recently, she served as principal of Cherokee Heights Middle School where she was named Wisconsin’s 2022 Secondary Principal of the Year and a 2022 Herb Kohl Foundation award recipient. Prior to 2022, she served as principal of Shorewood Hills Elementary and as a science teacher at Vel Phillips Memorial High School.

Over the years, Dr. Ebbe has led school teams in identifying and addressing the root causes of educational disparities and learning gaps by ensuring resources (such as budget and staffing, culture and climate, and instruction) are being fully aligned with the equity vision and mission of the school. As a result, Dr. Ebbe and her teams have been recognized for this work with the National Blue Ribbon Award for Exceptionally High Academic Achievement, the National Welcoming Schools Seal of Excellence, and an equity award from the United Nations.

Dr. Ebbe earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2011. She is grateful for the knowledge she gained from her experience as a doctoral student, and says to this day she uses her learning to design strategies that result in high outcomes for students, regardless of their demographics. She also serves as a Board member for Harvard University’s “The Principal Center” in the development of principal professional learning. Dr. Ebbe is a Board member for the Dane County Boys and Girls Club’s McKenzie Regional Workforce Center which is committed to supporting youth in pursuing technical education.

Dr. Ebbe is dedicated to MMSD because she is passionate about antiracist and LGBTQAI+ inclusive leadership. Her child attends a Madison School. She has been a member of the MMSD community for nearly 26 years and is excited to serve as an Associate Superintendent of Elementary Schools because the equity vision of MMSD aligns with Dr. Anu Ebbe’s life work and purpose.

Kim Schaefer is an accomplished professional with 30 years of leadership, business, and brand development experience. She blends creative ideas and business analytics to create branded solutions that generate significant asset value and revenue growth. She is an inspirational team builder with strong communication skills and a very approachable and servant leader management style. As a solution-oriented leader she is adept at working across business units to achieve brand and financial goals.

Kim currently serves as CEO of Two Bit Circus, an LA-based immersive entertainment company that is opening a network of micro-amusement parks focused on all-ages social play with locations in Dallas and Los Angeles. The company’s Los Angeles downtown location and the world’s first micro amusement park opened in October 2018. She is responsible for operations, construction and development team including setting and creating all the standards, financial goals and process for the operations team. She also leads the team to find new locations around the country.

Kim previously served as CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. She directed the company through two private equity sales, handling the goals of the private equity group with the brand protection of Great Wolf to create strong value in the private equity investment and while continuing to grow Great Wolf Resorts’ key metrics. 

Kim serves on the SeaWorld public board and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment public board. She previously served on the Education Realty Trust public board, Great Wolf Resorts public board, and the Board of Trustees of Edgewood College.

An avid walker and reader in her spare time, Kim is most proud of her husband of 30 years and two wonderful kids:  Samantha, a graduate of Edgewood College with a master’s from Arizona State University working in the social media field; and Max, a graduate of Arizona State University who is now a software engineer for a gaming company.

Myra McNair, the founder, owner, and visionary behind Anesis Therapy, is a force to reckon with in the field of mental health. Opening the clinic in 2016 as the sole therapist, Myra's fervor for providing culturally sensitive services led to its growth into a dynamic team of over 50 dedicated staff members. Her uniquely empathetic and strength-based therapeutic approach doesn’t see deficits or pathology, but potential and possibility, honoring each client's inherent wisdom and generational strengths.

Myra's vision for her clients and the mental health field aligns closely with the concept of Sankofa, a West African symbol that signifies the importance of learning from the past to build a stronger future. This concept informs her therapeutic work, as she guides clients in understanding their histories to shape their present and future, passing on the seeds of understanding and healing to succeeding generations.

Fostering growth in the field, Myra leads by example, nurturing the next generation of mental health professionals through robust clinical internships at Anesis. In addition, she serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Edgewood College, and mentors in the UW Infant Mental Health Program from which she also graduated.

Embracing the practice of reflective supervision with her team and fostering an environment of inclusiveness, Myra brings a variety of therapeutic modalities to her practice. Along with a strong foundation in psychoanalytic and narrative therapies, she employs EMDR therapy, Hypnotherapy, TF-CBT, Child-Parent Psychotherapy, and Brainspotting to tailor her approach to her clients' needs.

In addition to her clinical and teaching roles, Myra's service extends to the community through her participation on the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Board and the Dane County Community Justice Council, helping shape local business and justice initiatives.

Her pioneering work has garnered multiple accolades, including the NAMI Dane County 2020 Mental Health Trailblazer award, the Black Chamber of Commerce 2020 Eagle Award, and the Wisconsin Alliance on Infant Mental Health Spirit Award. In 2022, Myra was celebrated as one of Brava Magazine’s “Women 2 Watch,” recognized in In Business Magazine’s “40 under 40,” and as a Health Innovator in the 2017 “M List.”

With her relentless commitment to service, education, and innovation, Myra McNair continues to pave the way for a more inclusive, compassionate, and culturally sensitive mental health field.

Colleen Settles, O.P. joined the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa in 1969 after meeting them her freshman year. After teaching science and working at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison for many years, she became a board-certified chaplain and worked in hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in South Bend, Indiana. She then moved to California where she directed the Spiritual Care Department at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Los Angeles area, which led to her becoming the Chief Mission Integration Officer for the southern California region of Providence Health System. In this position, Sr. Colleen had oversight of the community outreach programs which included Parish Nursing, School Nursing, Tattoo Removal, and “Promotores de Salud,” along with other areas which included leadership formation for executives and hospital ethics. She was also a member of the Board of Regents of Providence High School in Burbank, California, and the administrative liaison to the health system. When Providence Health System took sponsorship of St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, Sr. Colleen, missing more “hands-on” mission work, left her regional position to become the Vice President of Mission at this new Providence venture.

It was from her ministry in California that she returned to Wisconsin being elected to the Leadership Council of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa where she served for seven years.  During that time, Sr. Colleen worked with all Sinsinawa Dominican-sponsored schools and the new Sponsors Council. Working with leaders from many other Dominican Congregations, she helped initiate Dominican Veritas Ministries, a new pontifical organization that will hold the sponsorship of many Dominican schools into the future. She is now serving on the first Member board of this exciting collaboration.

In her younger days, Sr. Colleen also enjoyed her work on the National Ski Patrol for more than 10 years.

Sr. Colleen holds a Doctorate degree in Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, and a master’s degree in religious studies from Loyola University in Chicago.

Eric Arnold has lived in the Madison area for more than over 30 years; the past 8 years in Cottage Grove with his wife, Brianne (also an alumna), and their two children. Eric just completed his 16th school year teaching at Madison East High School in the mathematics department. He also taught for nearly a decade at Edgewood College, teaching both undergraduate and graduate-level education courses. Eric spent many years coaching the interscholastic girls gymnastics team for Madison East and La Follette High Schools (a joint team) and teaching in UW Madison’s PEOPLE Program. Through his work at East, and the larger Madison area communities, he has worked hard to uphold the core values of Truth, Compassion, Justice, Partnership, and Community. Working in education creates a special opportunity to engage with others in deeply meaningful and impactful ways, he says. Eric recognizes both the significance and the responsibility that his role in education entails. He is humbled and appreciative of this award and aims to continue his work grounded in the values that shaped him at Edgewood College.

Natasha Sichula '20 came to Edgewood College from her home country of Zambia and graduated in 2020. She currently works as a cytotechnologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, located in New Hampshire.

Natasha singlehandedly founded HERZ, a nonprofit organization for adolescent girls that encompasses Mentorship, Scholarship, and Innovation to eradicate period poverty in developing economies. She has organized fundraising initiatives and partnered with other organizations that focus on providing feminine hygiene products to make/donate reusable sanitary pads to young women in Zambia.

Natasha was a POHER Scholar. The POHER Scholars program is a formal mentorship program that aims to assist with developing short-term and long-term goals, personal and professional development, provide support towards trainees as they go through college, university, medical school, and early career development.

Natasha has been recognized for many awards, including the 25 Under 25 African Leaders Changing the Game Award, United Nations Green Ticket Award, Mwape Peer Rising Star Award, and as a Clinton Foundation Scholar.

Video profiles of this year's honorees are available on the College's YouTube Channel.