MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Davidson Honors College has named its second class of Distinguished Alumni, recognizing graduates who have gone on to serve as leaders in their industry and communities.
The 2020 Distinguished Alumni are Dr. Stefani Hicswa, president of Northwest College and the next chancellor at Montana State University-Billings; Dan Lauren, operations business analyst at Weyerhaeuser in Washington; and Dr. Jennifer Isern, founder and CEO of Catalyze Global Impact LLC, which works with strategic organizations in targeted development sectors – including new technologies and the financial and private sector – with a focus on Africa and Asia.
“The DHC has a long history of fostering community leaders who excel in their chosen professions and exemplify leadership at all levels,” said Timothy Nichols, dean of the honors college. “Our 2020 Distinguished Alumni are true examples of this. Not only have they achieved great professional success, they have also remained deeply committed to UM, the DHC and its students.”
Hicswa, a first-generation college student from Dillon, has held national roles, including membership on the Higher Education Research and Development Institute nationwide advisory board. In addition, she authored a chapter in a new book titled “Generation X Presidents Leading Community Colleges: New Challenges, New Leaders.” She earned her master’s in adult, community and higher education and a bachelor’s in organizational communication from UM. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
“Stefani is a fantastic role model for our students,” said Kaetlyn Cordingley, DHC assistant dean and director of career development, community partnerships and scholarships. “She has engaged with our students as a guest speaker and is very responsive to student questions. She is a wonderful advocate for women in leadership and is loyal to the DHC as a place that launched her into success in higher education leadership.”
Lauren, also a first-generation college student, grew up in northern Montana and graduated from DHC with a major in computer science and minor in mathematics. His contributions to DHC have been significant, said Cordingley, including his founding of a scholarship to encourage high-achieving students who are not in honors to join the college.
“Dan's motivation behind the scholarship is to support non-traditional students – to help build their confidence and to engage them in honors education,” she said.
Isern has more than 30 years of experience in 65 countries on financial sector development and investing. Her passion is combining financing, technical assistance and innovation in high-impact projects to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Prior to launching her own firm, she held positions with increasing levels of responsibility across the World Bank and International Finance Corporation for over 23 years.
A graduate of one of the earliest DHC classes, Isern went on to receive her doctorate in both finance and international business from Nova Southeastern University and a master’s degree in development economics from the Wilson School at Princeton University. Throughout the years, she has maintained a devotion to UM, Cordingley said, noting that Isern served as a Commencement speaker, a visiting scholar with the College of Humanities and Sciences, a trustee for the UM Foundation and a member of the DHC's External Advisory Board.
“Jennifer’s commitment has been steadfast and strong, despite her extraordinary international career of global impact,” Cordingley said.
DHC attracts the best students from around the world, developing them into engaged global citizens and professionals who excel in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, problem-solving, ethical reasoning and civic engagement. To learn more about the honors college visit http://dhc.umt.edu/default.php.
Contact: Kaetlyn Cordingley, assistant dean and director of career development, community partnerships and scholarships, UM Davidson Honors College, 406-243-2579, firstname.lastname@example.org.