Distinguished Alumnae

Distinguished Alumnae



We honor alumnae in several ways, including on social media, in the Columns magazine, and with the Young Alumna Community Service Award, (presented at the Young Alumnae Holiday Social), and the Distinguished Alumna Award (presented at the Alumnae Luncheon). Help us recognize outstanding Holy Names Academy alumnae who are living out the HNA Mission by making a difference and improving lives around the world. 




Liz Eldredge Swift ‘71  served Holy Names Academy for 48 years and was honored with this award on her final year working at HNA. Always inspiring, the 2023 Alumnae Luncheon saw the largest to-date attendance with 275 alumnae celebrating friendships and HNA connections. This year, the Alumnae Board honored Liz Eldredge Swift ’71 with the 2023 Distinguished Alumna Award. Liz, who has worked at the Academy for an exceptional 48 years, embodies the school’s mission and the Charism of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Her receipt of this award accentuated the event theme “Legacy of Leadership.”

Distinguished Alumnae, 2009 - 2020:

    Caryn Geraghty Jorgensen

    Caryn Geraghty Jorgensen ’89 was named the 2020 Distinguished Alumna for “achievement in professional career.” Caryn is an accomplished attorney in tort and commercial litigation and a shareholder at the firm Stokes Lawrence. In addition to having a busy litigation practice, Caryn writes and speaks on trial skills, professional ethics, aviation, and product liability topics and participates in numerous professional organizations. She was selected to Super Lawyers in 2013-2020 and listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the Commercial Litigation field in 2016-2021. Caryn is deeply committed to furthering the HNA mission; she currently serves as Vice President of the HNA Board of Trustees and has served in a variety of other roles at HNA, including Finance Committee Chair. She has also been an active participant in HNA’s alumnae program, frequently attending events and previously serving on the Alumnae Board. She has a large family of HNA alumnae, including her daughter, Mackenzie ’16. Caryn’s excellence in her professional career and her longstanding support of the HNA community is truly inspiring.


    Commander Emily Klauser Bassett, Holy Names Academy Class of ’95 and a 19-year veteran of the United States Navy, is HNA’s 2019 Distinguished Alumna Award winner. Emily was the first Commanding Officer of the Navy combat ship USS Manchester and currently serves as the Reactor Officer on the USS Gerald R Ford. She is in charge of the new aircraft carrier’s two nuclear reactors and the 300 nuclear-trained sailors who operate the propulsion and power plant. Because duty prevented her from attending this year’s Holy Names Academy Alumnae Luncheon to accept her award on March 2, Emily submitted this inspiring video. We hope you enjoy it!



    Christie Sheehan Spielman '68 served as the Director of Alumnae Relations at HNA for 23 years. Throughout those years, Christie worked diligently to grow the program. Her accomplishments include: strengthening the Alumnae Board to its largest size ever—an amazing 45-members stronger; increasing the number and variety of alumnae events and attendance at those events; creating the Class Representative program; streamlining the class-reunion planning process; and establishing the alumnae induction process for seniors. After retiring from the Director of Alumnae Relations position, Christie continued to work for HNA as Archivist, and has been instrumental in creating HNA's Heritage Center.


  • 2017 - ERIN TERZIEFF ’95

    In 2007, Erin started working with Good Morning School, a Burmese Learning Center in Mae Sot Thailand.  What began as a one-room hut with 40 children developed into the standard of excellence in the Migrant School system. In addition to galvanizing support for Good Morning School, Erin has been actively involved in partnering with local community-based organizations to fund projects and operations at countless other Burmese Migrant Schools. In 2012, Erin founded All You Need Is Love, a nonprofit organization facilitating safe education for Burmese Migrant Children living in conflict and crisis on The Border of Thailand and Burma. As a passionate teacher for nearly 16 years, Erin’s instincts are geared toward nurturing the school campus, staff, and students to create a safe and comfortable learning environment. 

    Good Morning School was the 2014 recipient of the Thai Ministry of Education’s highest award for Migrant Learning Centers and recognized as the number one Migrant School in Tak Province. 

    Over the years, Erin has collaborated on projects with visionaries such as Amnesty International founder  Jack Healey, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Mohammed Yunus, Chairwoman of the Burmese Migrant Worker’s Education Committee Naw Paw Ray, Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Cynthia Maung, Co-Founder of U.S. Campaign for Burma Jeremy Woodrum, and film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy.


  • 2016 - KATHLEEN HARER ’65

    In 1965, when Kathleen entered the University of Washington’s College of Engineering, she found herself one of only a few women students. It took considerable effort and dedication and persistence for her to earn her engineering degree. Kathleen earned additional degrees in engineering, including Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1970 and Industrial Engineering in 1973. She held various engineering positions, including working for OSHA and the U.S. Department of Energy.  While working for the Department of Energy, she also earned an MBA in 1980 from the University of Tennessee. Kathleen was subsequently placed in charge of ground safety for NASA and was an integral part of every space launch. She has continued to work as a consultant since her retirement. Kathleen is a mentor and role model, encouraging young girls to enter the engineering fields.

    Kathleen is truly a trailblazer, leader, and mentor, and HNA is proud to call her an alumna.


  • 2015 - VENETRIA PATTON ‘86

    Dr. Venetria  Patton is Director of African American Studies and Research Center and Professor of English at Purdue University. She earned her BA in English from the University of La Verne and her MA and PhD in English from the University of California-Riverside. Dr. Patton’s teaching and research focus on African American and Diasporic Women’s Literature. She is the author of Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women’s Fiction (SUNY, 2000) and recently published The Grasp That Reaches Beyond the Grave: the Ancestral Call in Black Women’s Texts (SUNY, 2013). Dr. Patton's essays have appeared in Black Studies and Women’s Studies journals. Dr. Patton is a former Chair of the Purdue Black Caucus of Faculty and Staff and former board member of the National Council for Black Studies. 



    The Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Chair of Harvard Business School's Doctoral Programs, Kathleen Morford McGinn credits HNA for nurturing her interest in education and teaching.

    Recognition for excellence in education would have been equally appropriate for Kathleen. She attended Gonzaga University as an undergraduate and transferred to Seattle University in her senior year to take part in a pilot program in Existential Phenomenological Psychology, graduating with both a BA and MBA in 1985. At the Kellogg Graduate School of Management of Northwestern University, Kathleen earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior in 1992. She taught at Cornell for two years as an Assistant Professor, and began teaching at the Harvard Business School in 1994. Her students are now teaching, directing, and influencing management and negotiation practices at the highest levels of academia and government.

    In her work, Kathleen has focused on research in the areas of negotiation and decision-making, with a more recent focus on gender in negotiations. Her research is both national and international in scope and she is currently participating on research projects in Africa, India, Canada, and Mexico as well as in the U.S.A.


  • 2013 - JO-ANN PIZZELLO KELLY '66

    Whether exploring the metrics of social media, sharing her thoughts for the HNA Oral History video, or judging a student’s entrepreneurial plans for finals presentations, Jo-Ann Pizzello Kelly ’66 brings a generous, thoughtful dedication to Holy Names Academy. While serving on the Board of Trustees at HNA since 1998, she has been involved in nearly every aspect of the school’s governance. During her first nine-year term, Jo-Ann served on the 125th Anniversary, Marketing, Development, Building, and Board Operations committees. She also chaired the Long-Range Planning process. After a one-year hiatus, Jo-Ann returned as Board Vice-President and served the next year as the Board of Trustees chair; she now continues as the immediate past board chair, while also chairing the Marketing Committee and Social Media Task Force.

    Jo-Ann started her own business in 1996, Marketecture, Inc., a marketing consulting company that specializes in creating branded environments and marketing communications.  Her expertise in marketing, her creativity, and her insight into HNA’s mission provide tremendous benefits to the school.


  • 2012 - LYNN EISEN KESSLER '58

    Lynn served in the Washington State Legislature for 20 years (1991-2011) and was elected by her colleagues to serve as House Majority Leader for 12 of those years. She helped write the state budget for 10 years and played a key role as a member of the Ways and Means Committee. A 30-year resident of Grays Harbor County, Lynn was most proud of her work on behalf of rural Washington.

    Lynn brought leadership skills and deeply held faith-based passion to bear on important issues of our day: domestic violence, health care for children, open government, and rural economic development. In a politically charged environment, she was a voice of reason and camaraderie; a master at working respectfully with lawmakers in both parties. In 2010 she won the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award, the nation’s top legislative honor. 



    Doreen served for fourteen years (1997-2011) as president and CEO of Hopelink a human services agency that provides services such as 24-hour transportation, emergency housing, and food banks for the home-less, low-income, and disabled people in north and east King County. Under her leadership, Hopelink has grown to an organization offering more than 40 programs to 50,000 local people a year, on an annual budget of 45 million.

    Prior to her tenure at Hopelink, Doreen served eight years as mayor of Redmond.  With her vision and leadership, the City of Redmond became the first in the area to provide public funding to private agencies in order to meet the social services needs of city residents. Her commitment to public service has led to service on a variety of local, regional, and state boards: United Way of King County, Leadership Eastside, the Kirkland Performance Center, the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board, and the Steering Committee of the Sound Families Initiative of the Gates Foundation.  She also is the past President of the Washing-ton State Association of Community Action Agencies and the Redmond Rotary Club, and was a founder of the Executive Alliance.  She currently serves on the Seattle University Leadership Council for the College of Arts and Sciences.


  • 2011 - SR. JEAN FALLON, MM '47
    Sister Jean

    After graduating from the Academy, Sister Jean entered the novitiate of the Maryknoll Sisters. While there, she studied Japanese at the Yale University Institute of Foreign Languages, then moved to Japan where she served various parishes of the Kyoto diocese for 23 years. During a return to the U.S. of several years, she joined the World Awareness Group that fostered better understanding of global situations. Returning to Japan, she continued her dedication to peace and justice issues serving on the Catholic Justice and Peace Committee and the NCC Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee. Sister Jean currently works in the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns at United Nations headquarters in New York. She has travelled to Palestine with the Christian Peacemaker Team three times and is involved with Israeli/Palestinian solutions.


  • 2011 - PAMELA HYDE GIBBONS '76
    Pam Gibbons

    In 2006, while running her own fabrication business in New Mexico, Pam Gibbons saw there were not enough skilled workers to meet the growing demand for unique production from the interior design industry. She combined her skills with her dedication to the community, and founded the nonprofit organization Sew Right, Inc. Sew Right provides scholarships to individuals, referred by other community service organizations, and teaches classes that range from basic sewing, to life skills, to more in-depth classes on advanced upholstery and setting up a home business. The program ensures success in a specialized industry.

    The success of Sew Right is due to Pam's continued dedication to others.



    The life-long career of Sister Eleanor, CSJP has been centered on health care.  She has served as hospital administrator and as provincial of her congregation’s Western Province. Her work in El Salvador  from 1988 to 1993, beginning a year after that nation’s civil war ended, assisted refugees uprooted by the war.

    In 2001, Sister Eleanor founded El Salvador Health Mission a collaborative ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and Peace Health, founded by the order.


  • 2010 - BARBARA BEERS '72
    Bonnie Beers

    Bonnie Beers served as a firefighter and battalion chief for 30 years with the Seattle Fire Department.

    She joined the department in the spring of 1978 and was the first female firefighter in Seattle. 

    Her career challenges and accomplishments have inspired and encouraged other female firefighters nationwide.


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