Valerie A. Jones ’94
Executive Director of Alumnae Relations
I’m a proud Bennie from the class of 1994, a time of flannel shirts, hair scrunchies and grunge music. I double majored in French and philosophy and bought my first pair of Birkenstocks in honor of my senior year at Saint Ben’s. I’m proud to say that my liberal arts degrees gave me the skills and opportunities that allow me to say I’ve never been unemployed and have always held jobs that I’ve loved. In addition to my BA degree from Saint Ben’s I also have a master’s degree in women’s studies and wrote my thesis on Catholic women who prepared and served funeral dinners as a form of faith and volunteer expression.
I enjoyed a 20-year career in the nonprofit sector before coming back to Saint Ben’s to work in Alumnae Relations. I love being on campus and still get a thrill out of meetings that take place in the turret of the Main Building … and the smell of the lobby in Main. It’s like coming home every time I walk in the doors. I clearly take a liberal arts approach to my hobbies and culinary tastes, since I enjoy crafts, live music, football (Go Pack!), gardening, reading and foods from every corner of the planet. My husband, dog, family and friends keep me grounded and give me inspiration.
I am obsessed with the Hidden Brain podcast and get a kick out of personality traits and inventories. I am an INFJ, Green, Visionary and Imaginative, depending on the inventory tool. My StrengthsFinder strengths are connectedness, input, learner, intellection and strategic. I have some expertise in volunteer management, strategic planning and group facilitation. I think my colleagues would say that I am a good listener, always know how to ask a good question and am pretty chill most of the time.
I work at Saint Ben’s because education for women is critical in order to solve the wicked problems that persist locally, nationally and globally. I think Bennies in particular are well equipped and well positioned to be the leaders at all levels who will solve these problems. Bennies know how to think critically, lead courageously and advocate passionately. It’s my great privilege to serve Bennies wherever they are in the world.
Anne Sumangil ’99
Director, Alumnae Relations and Coach, Dance Team
I was born and raised in the Twin Cities to immigrant parents. I graduated from Saint Ben’s with a degree in management and minors in Spanish and accounting. While in college, I received theater, piano and academic scholarships. I was on the CSB Dance Team, involved with the Asian Students Association and performed in a couple of Theater Department productions. After Saint Ben’s, I went on to receive a master of education degree in human resource development from the University of Minnesota.
I work at CSB to pay it forward. When I toured Saint Ben’s as a high school student, I had that moment that everyone describes when “I just knew I was home.” After many years working in alumni relations at other schools, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to work for CSB. I feel fortunate that I get to work with the best alumnae in the world. I especially love watching our alumnae support future and current Bennies by providing gifts for scholarships.
I have expertise in event planning, public speaking, mentorship/career development, networking program management and etiquette.
Outside of work, I enjoy dance – teaching it and learning it. You may occasionally see me in flash mobs or performing hip hop with my studio dance class. I’m a licensed Zumba instructor and teach a class on campus. I practice yoga, as well. I also run a small business as an etiquette instructor. And, when I can, I enjoy traveling.
My colleagues would say that I am a bedazzled Tasmanian devil. Translation: I’m a high achiever who also likes to have fun while I work and I don’t shy away from rhinestones and sequins. I’m a very social person and enjoy meeting people and learning about them.
StrengthsFinder strengths: communication, woo, achiever, activator, harmony | |
MBTI: ESFJ (extraversion, sensing, feeling, judging)
Inventories: yellow, red, green, blue (Insights)
Kristin Sawyer Lyman ’00
Assistant Director of Alumnae Relations
Hi! I’m from the Saint Ben’s class of 2000. I came from a rural-Minnesota town called Battle Lake, population 700, where everyone knew me and my family, and I was involved in just about everything. I was a leader in my community, and I chose to go to Saint Ben’s so I could learn from strong, female role models.
My college road started out quite bumpy – so bumpy in fact, as my mom reminds me, I nearly quit college that first year. Going from a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a big pond (hey – it was big to me!), had me spinning. I now know that a lot of us feel that way when we start college and again in our first few years out of college. I can’t say that I ever did find my true “niche,” but I graduated in 3-1/2 years with a degree in communication and English and took with me an abundance of wonderful, powerful, unanticipated and life-altering moments.
After many years working in marketing and communication, I found myself back at Saint Ben’s. I’ve enjoyed being the assistant director of alumnae relations since 2011. The best part of my job is getting to help my Bennie sisters, hear their stories and support their journeys, long after their time at Saint Ben’s. Because my CSB student experience was a little rocky, I’m able to relate to and better support those who may have had a less-than-typical Bennie experience. On a daily basis, I am blessed to learn from and be surrounded by some of the strongest women I know: the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, and our amazing Bennie students and alumnae.
Outside of work, I spend all the time I can with my three children and retired parents. I love anything outdoors, gardening, embroidering, making things, binge-watching Netflix, planning, traveling, learning, teaching and finding good books to be left like jewels on my bookshelf for another phase of my life when I have more time and energy.