Alumni Achievement and Sent Forth Award Recipients
Dr. Paul Brandvik '59
Dr. Paul Brandvik is a professor emeritus of music at Bemidji State University and served as director of choral activities for 31 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts in public school music and psychology from Concordia and taught at Pelican Rapids High School. He earned his Master of Music in voice from the University of Wisconsin in 1965 and Doctor of Musical Arts in choral music from the University of Illinois in 1969. He conducted the Bemidji Choir in performances for conventions of the American Choral Directors Association as well overseas conferences. He received several awards, guest conducted more than 100 festivals and workshops in 16 states and abroad, and composed, edited or arranged more than 50 works.
Dr. Kristi (Martinson) Ferguson '71
Dr. Kristi Ferguson is a professor emeritus of general internal medicine and served as director in the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine from 1995 to 2018. She earned her Concordia degree in 1971 and earned a master's and doctorate at the University of Michigan. She spent her entire career at the U of Iowa Carver College of Medicine where she has greatly influenced the development, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum. She has served on committees for several national organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges. She remains active in her church community at Zion Lutheran Church and has recently been elected as the vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
The Rev. Ann Svennungsen '77
A 1977 Concordia graduate, the Rev. Ann Svennungsen is the bishop of the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, the first female bishop to serve in any of the ELCA's six Minnesota synods. She served as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Iowa City, co-pastor of Edina Community Lutheran Church, and senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. She went on to serve as president and CEO of The Fund for Theological Education and then president of Texas Lutheran University. Svennungsen, a well-respected theologian and speaker, is published in numerous journals and is invited to lecture, preach, and provide keynote and commencement addresses. Among her many honors, she was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars and has received the Luther Seminary Alumni Achievement award and an honorary doctorate from Trinity Lutheran Seminary.
Dr. Thomas W. Samuelson '81
Dr. Thomas Samuelson, a board-certified ophthalmologist, is a founding partner and attending surgeon at Minnesota Eye Consultants, P.A., Minneapolis. He's also an adjust professor at the University of Minnesota and on the faculty of Hennepin County Medical Center. He earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota and completed his residency at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He has received several awards and has been named to American's Top Doctors each year since 2002. He has written numerous articles and given more than 600 presentations around the world. He is active in his church community and is a C-400 member at Concordia.
Dr. Matthew Culloton '98
Matthew Culloton, founding artistic director of The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, is a 1998 Concordia graduate and earned a master's and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He is choirmaster at The House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minn., and an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas. He received the VocalEssence/ACDA of Minnesota Creative Programming Award (2003) and MN ACDA Outstanding Young Choral Conductor of the Year Award (2004). As a composer, he has been commissioned to compose works for The Singers and the Dale Warland Singers, among several others. He is co-editor of the "Matthew and Michael Culloton Choral Series" and editor of the "Christmas with The Singers Choral Series."
Betsy (Strebel) Grams '98
Betsy Grams, co-founder and executive director of CycleHealth, is a 1998 Concordia graduate. CycleHealth was founded in 2014 to equip kids to power their own wellness. CycleHealth's programs are based on adventure and self-directed goal attainment and are prescribed by pediatricians in more than 50 Twin Cities clinics through an innovative platform called Sweat Rx. Prior to co-founding CycleHealth, she was a high school English teacher and director of an alternative school for students at risk for graduation.