The NMU Alumni Association Board of Directors is proud to announce the 2018 alumni award recipients who will be honored during Homecoming 2018 festivities. These alumni have attained significant achievements in their field, made substantial contributions to society and demonstrated exceptional leadership and civic qualities.
First presented in 1964, the NMU Alumni Awards celebrate excellence: Northern alumni who have received an associate, bachelor, masters or educational specialist degree. They have been a positive influence on their professions or on their communities and distinguished themselves through achievements, both personal and professional, which not only set them apart in their field and social circles, but define them as true leaders.
Keith Nelsen '86 BS - Distinguished Alumni Award
Keith J. Nelsen is the executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Best Buy Co., Inc. In this role, he has multi-channel accountability for worldwide legal operations and for identifying, managing and mitigating material risks to Best Buy.
Keith joined Best Buy in 2005. Until 2011, he served as senior vice president, Commercial, and as general counsel for Best Buy International, managing the company’s legal responsibilities outside of the United States, including oversight of its international transactions and local law compliance. He also oversaw the company’s Corporate Development function, overseeing equity-related investments on a global basis, providing assessment, financial analysis and strategic recommendations on equity investment opportunities.
Prior to joining Best Buy, Keith was chief administrative officer and general counsel at Danka Business Systems PLC, a multi-national distributor and servicer of office printing products He was responsible for worldwide legal operations and oversaw the human resources, real estate and insurance functions. Before that, he was vice president, Legal, at NordicTrack, Inc. Keith began his career as a practicing attorney with Best and Flanagan, LLP.
Keith received his juris doctor from the University of Wisconsin and graduated from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Active in his community, he serves on the Board of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, the Chad Greenway Lead the Way Foundation; the Dean’s Advisory Board at Mitchell Hamline Law School and is active as a law student mentor and youth sports coach. Keith is also the Executive Sponsor of Best Buy’s Black Employee Resource Group (BERG) and is very active in the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives.
Scott Schloegel '90 BS - Distinguished Alumni Award
Scott P. Schloegel is a native of Menominee, MI and a graduate of Menominee High School. He began classes at NMU the fall of 1986, initially majoring in business. Midway through his sophomore year, Scott became a Resident Advisor in Gant Hall, serving in that role for his junior year as well. In his junior year, Scott switched to a Communications major and graduated from NMU in 1990 with his bachelor of science. Scott was involved in many organizations and activities including First Impressions, the Center for Excellence in Leadership and Personal Development, Resident Advisor, alumni office academic intern and ASNMU. He earned the Outstanding Resident Advisor Award and the Center for Excellence in Leadership & Personal Development’s Leadership Intern Award in 1989. In 1998, Scott received NMU's Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
After graduation, Scott served for two and a half years as a legislative aide for state representatives Bart Stupak and Ken DeBeaussaert. After Stupak was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, Scott became the Congressman’s district administrator, opening six offices and managing the staff, constituent casework, and outreach activities. In the summer of 1997, Scott became the Congressman’s chief of staff, and he and his wife, Kirsten, moved to Washington, DC. He was chief of staff until 2011. From 2007 through 2011, Scott also served as an investigator and professional staff member for the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee which Congressman Stupak chaired. This work included a wide array of investigations ranging from Top Secret cyber security at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons labs, to investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil platform disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
In January of 2011, Scott joined the Obama Administration as the senior vice president of Congressional Affairs at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). He was later promoted to EXIM chief of staff and in January of 2017, he was appointed the acting first vice president and vice chairman of the Board at EXIM to assist in transitioning the bank from the current to the incoming administration. He eventually became EXIM’s acting president and chairman in December of 2017.
During his tenure at EXIM, Scott traveled to more than 20 countries across the globe giving speeches, securing sales of American exports, and meeting with foreign dignitaries ranging from Ministers of Finance, to royal Princes, to Prime Ministers and Presidents.
Scott retired in April of this year after more than 25 years of service in the federal government.
Skye Patrick '96 BFA - Alumni Achievement Award
Skye Patrick graduated from NMU in 1996 with a bachelor of fine arts degree. She was appointed LA County Library Director on February 1, 2016. The L.A. County library is one of the major libraries in the nation, providing services to over 3.4 million residents living in unincorporated areas and to residents of 49 of the 88 incorporated cities of Los Angeles County. Skye was previously Broward County Library’s Director and held leadership roles at Queens Public Library in New York and San Francisco Public Library. She manages the Library’s $201 million annual budget and is responsible for the operation of the Library’s 87 community libraries covering over 3,000 square miles and serving 3.4 million residents.
Skye has made it her mission to break down barriers and increase access for all. As Director, she continues to reinforce the Library’s role in the community as a civic and cultural center, a hub for public information and services, and an institution of literacy, innovation, and lifelong learning. Under her leadership, local libraries are intentionally designing programs in systematic ways and Library staff is empowered to address issues with a more consistent and comprehensive approach.
Skye was appointed to the Executive Board of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), the premier membership association of North America’s leading public library systems, in July 2017. As an organization that is on the cutting edge of library innovation, Skye has joined a dynamic team of leaders and works alongside the board to inspire libraries to evolve and grow.
Beth Millner '08 BFA - Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Beth Millner graduated from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor of fine arts in Metalsmithing in 2008 and launched her home-based jewelry business out of the corner of her kitchen. While in her last year of college, she started displaying at art fairs, opened an e-commerce store and taught silversmithing classes in Marquette. Four years later, at the age of 26, Beth’s business was thriving and she was ready to transition to a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Marquette. Today, she has seven employees who help make and sell the handmade, eco-friendly jewelry in-store and online.
As an integral part of her business ethos, Beth is dedicated to giving back to her community. Annually she selects local non-profits and designs custom pendants for each organization to be sold at her shop, with proceeds being donated to back to the organizations. Beth also sets aside a certain number of jewelry pieces to be donated each quarter to local fundraisers, events and silent auctions.
Outside of her shop, Beth commits her time to the betterment of Marquette and the surrounding area. She served on the board for the Chamber of Commerce and Northern Initiatives and spearheaded an Adopt-A-Highway section in Negaunee. Beth regularly gives presentations to aspiring artists, business owners, and students at Northern Michigan University and sponsors awards at NMU’s Senior Art Show and Marquette’s Art on the Rocks. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring and finding inspiration in the natural spaces of the Upper Peninsula.
Michele Butler '76 BS '78 MAE - Alumni Community Service Award
Michele is currently co-owner of Vango’s restaurant in Marquette. As a major employer, she has provided an invaluable training site for young people at the high school and college level and has mentored other business owners and countless NMU students over the years. In addition to being a cornerstone of regional business, she is an ardent and active supporter of the Marquette community and region.
Michele believes that, as a business owner, it is important to give back to the community. She is a tireless supporter of Marquette Rotaries, Youth Hockey, Habitat for Humanity, United Way of Marquette, Bay Cliff Health Camp, the Marquette Women’s Center, Harbor House, Beacon House, and Northern Michigan University Athletics. Michele is perhaps best known for spearheading the building and helping to sustain the YMCA of Marquette. In 2014, Michele donated ten acres of Lake Superior frontage property to the City of Marquette and successfully applied for a Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant to develop Clark Lambros Beach Park. In addition, she established a six-figure endowment to provide ongoing funds for the park.
Her commitment to the region and its residents has been honored many times. In 1985, she was awarded Outstanding Alumni at Northern Michigan University. In 1995 and again in 2010, the YMCA of Marquette County recognized her as a Key Leader. The Lake Superior Community Partnership recognized her with the Citizen of the Year Award in 1998. In 2000, the Wisconsin MRC presented her with their Leadership Award for her work with the YMCA. Notably, in 2013, Michele received the Evergreen Award, given to a citizen for outstanding mentoring of women and girls in the community.
Recently, Rotary International presented Michele with the Service Above Self Award, one of their highest honors, for demonstrating exemplary humanitarian served, with emphasis on personal volunteer efforts and active involvement in helping others.