Education Foundation announces distinguished alumni

Published 9:49 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

Following are bios on three of the six recipients. The first three bios were published Sunday, Sept. 11. The alumni will be recognized at the Pathways to Success banquet on Sept. 29 at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club by the Education Foundation of Albert Lea and Albert Lea Area Schools.

Tickets are $35 per person and reservations are needed by Monday. Reservations may be made by mailing a check to the Education Foundation of Albert Lea, PO Box 828, Albert Lea, MN 56007. Questions should be directed to Lilah Aas, president of the foundation’s board of directors.

Sunny Hansen

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Sunny Sundal Hansen was born Oct. 11, 1929, in Freeborn County. She was the first of two daughters of Rasmus and Cora (Sveen) Sundal. Sunny once told a reporter that a prime influence on her life was that she came from a relatively poor family. They lived in an apartment in an alley only a block from the county jail and six blocks from the meat packinghouse where her dad was employed all his life. Her family depended on her dad’s income because her Norwegian-American mother was quite ill. Her younger sister died when Sunny was 9 years old. She said she felt the need to do it all as the surviving child. She said she also had many minority children as playmates so that she became interested in cultures.

Sunny said she has very fond memories of her junior and senior years. She was salutatorian and her Chinese-American friend was valedictorian. She was news editor of the school newspaper. She was in drama, speech, choir, debate, discussion club, president of the girls’ athletic association, editor of the literary magazine and a member of National Honor Society. She graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1947. Her parents wanted her to be a secretary, but journalism teacher Ms. Edna Gercken encouraged her to go to college and major in journalism. She didn’t think it would be possible, but the high school principal told her she would get the University of Minnesota scholarship since the valedictorian wasn’t going to college.

Sunny enrolled in the University of Minnesota, where she earned her B.S. in English and her M.A. Sunny taught high school English and journalism in three different high schools for 12 years, where she spent time informally counseling high school students as a teacher. This insight caused her to change direction from English to counseling.

When Sunny completed her Ph.D. in counseling in 1962, she was appointed a part-time counselor educator at University High School. Most of her professional career was as a professor of counseling and student personnel psychology at the University of Minnesota, where she specialized in career development.

Hansen has a lifelong interest in social issues of justice and equality. Her major creative contribution is Born Free, a federally funded program to expand career options for both women and men.

Her website is called Born Free International. The site consists of original, revised, and new print materials created by 14 Minnesota institutions through a federal grant from the Women’s Educational Equity Act. International authors from about a dozen countries have contributed articles to the site. For more than 40 years, Hansen has written and lectured widely in the U.S. and about 35 countries on many aspects of counseling and career development. She has also been a frequent national consultant to school districts. In 1982 she created a nationally disseminated television course on career development and planning. Hansen’s “Integrative Life Planning: Critical Tasks for Career Development and Changing Life Patterns” was published in 1997.

Sunny retired in 1999. Since then she has stayed connected with the University of Minnesota as a member of the college’s Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle, and she is involved in activities at Plymouth Congregational Church, where she and her husband Tor were married in 1963.

Hansen has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of her work, including the Eminent Career Award from the National Career Development Association in 1990 and the Distinguished Mentor Award from the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision in 1986. In 1978 she was elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association for distinguished contribution to the field of psychology. In 1995 Dr. Hansen was awarded the national Professional Development Award by the American Counseling Association. In 1999 she was named the first internal Lowell W. Hllervik/Personnel Decisions International Distinguished Professor in Adult Career Development at the University of Minnesota.

In 2006 Hansen was honored as one of the top 100 graduates of the College of Education and Human Development of the University of Minnesota.

She is a past president of the 55,000-member American Counseling Association and the National Career Development Association.

When not involved in professional activities, Sunny spends her time with her husband, Tor, in White Bear Lake and with her four grandchildren who range in age from 3 to 5 years old. Daughter Sonja is a business analyst/project manager at U.S. Bank, and son Tor has been a structural engineer for almost 15 years at Barr Engineering. Sunny and her husband, Tor, also an engineer and former international student from Norway, also spend part of the year away from Minnesota winters in Bonita Springs, Fla. In her spare time she enjoys writing, golfing, swimming, walking, photography, dancing and (formerly) skiing.

Charles Schneider

Charles Schneider was born on Sept. 16, 1938, in Freeborn County, one of two children to Albert E. and Marie (Stephenson) Schneider. After elementary and junior high, his 1956 senior Tiger Yearbook shows that he was a very busy young man. His activities included Junior Classical League, Drama Club, Thespians, Masquers, Tigers Roar, football, basketball, track, intramural football, chorus, Madrigal, orchestra, swing band, Ahlahasa, Tiger, Quill and Scroll, National Honor Society, Rotary and Hi-Y.

After graduating from high school, Schneider attended Cornell College in Iowa from 1957-1960 where he received his B.M. and his B.M.E. Then in 1960-1961 he studied piano at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Later, while working, he was also able to study in 1970-1971 in master conducting classes with Igor Markevitch in Monte Carlo and with Herbert Blomstedt from Copenhagen Radio Orchestra in Dresden, East Germany. In 1971-1972 he took master conducting classes with Franco Ferrara in Siena and Rome, Italy.

His conducting career began on Broadway in the 1960s as conductor of the New York revival of Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti.” As a result, Bernstein tapped him to conduct “West Side Story” at Lincoln Center. In 1965-67 Schneider was the music director of the “Ice Capades,” and “Jimmy Durante NBC Television Special” with The Supremes and Jimmy Dean and music director for “West Side Story’s” six-month tour with Anna Maria Alberghetti. In the 1970s he moved into symphonic music as associate music director of the Kansas City Philharmonic.

He was the music director for “Your Own Thing,” which was the first off-Broadway musical to win the Drama Desk Critics’ Award. During the 1960s, he conducted for Juliet Prowse, John Raitt, Christopher Walken, Dorothy Loudon, Carole Shelley, George Grizzard, Andy Williams, Howard Keel, Van Johnson, Ray Milland and Jane Powell.

Among his opera credits was the American premiere of “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” with the San Francisco Opera. From 1976-1979 Schneider was music director of the Greater Utica Opera Guild in Utica. In 1978 he conducted the Colgate University Orchestra, in Hamilton, N.Y. In 1982 he was musical director of the Chamber Orchestra of San Diego State University, San Diego, Calif.

From 1973 to the present Schneider has been the music director of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra in Oneonta, N.Y., and in 1980 added the role of music director for the Utica Symphony Orchestra in Utica, N.Y., and in 1983 he was appointed the music director of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. In 1986, he became conductor and instructor at the Hartwick College Music Camp in Oneonta, N.Y., associations which continue today as the New York Summer Music Festival.

As music director, he has had the pleasure of conducting Robert Merrill, Roberta Peters, Wynton Marsalis, Ella Fitzgerald, Doc Severinsen, Frederica von Stade, Dwayne Croft, the Kingston Trio, Jon Fredric West, Mark O’Connor, Dinah Shore, Joan Kennedy, Charles Kuralt, Sarah Chang, Ida Kavafian, Peter Wiley, Andrew Russo, Anthony Molinaro, Toby Appel and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

In the 1990s Schneider was the opera conductor for the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, N.Y.; conductor of the Glasnost Ballet Tour in El Paso, Texas, Newark N.J., and Utica, N.Y., and then became the music director of the Portland Chamber Orchestra in Portland, Ore.

The music faculties of Hamilton College, Colgate University, Hartwick College, Skidmore College, SUNY-Oneonta and Mohawk Valley Community College have also had the pleasure of Schneider’s musical acumen. He was the founding music director for the Glimmerglass Opera, a position he held for 12 years. He was also co-founder of the Catskill Conservatory of Music in Oneonta, N.Y.

Maestro Schneider is a four-time recipient of the ASCAP Award for Creative Programming and Performance Excellence. In 2000, he received the Governor’s Award for Musical Excellence and a citation of musical excellence from the United States Congress. He served a three-year term as a panelist on the New York State Council of the Arts. He received a New York State Music Award through the Rockefeller Foundation to arrange and orchestrate “The Bosnian Dances.”

Schneider and his wife, Rayna, reside in Frankfort, N.Y. They have three children, Paul Baker, Dana Schneider and Megan Schneider-Ajakh.

Chris Berghoff

Chris Bredo Berghoff was born in Newport, R.I., on July 3, 1952, to Henry Lee and Catherine Berghoff. He was one of five children, four boys and one girl. The Berghoff family moved from Dearborn, Mich., to Albert Lea in the early 1960s. Chris attended Albert Lea High School, where he participated in swimming, baseball, track and intramural football. He was a member of the Letterman’s Club his senior year, graduating in 1971. Chris and his siblings thoroughly enjoyed growing up and creating excitement in Albert Lea. Chris held down part-time jobs throughout his teenage years, and he and his brothers enjoyed building and working on motorcycles and cars.

Chris’ twin brother, Gene, said he and his brothers all eventually ended up starting their own manufacturing businesses as a result of their father’s influence. Chuck, Chris and Jan each went into the electronics component industry, and Gene into the medical device industry. Their father, who initially started out in engineering, eventually became president and ran Scotsman’s Industries Inc. Scotsman’s, the worlds largest manufacturer of ice machines, was headquartered in Albert Lea for many years and has manufacturing facilities in Europe and Mexico. Their father had learned a lot from his father, Bredo Berghoff, who joined an early stage development company in 1907 by the name of “Ford Motor Company” and had a successful ride working with Ford building automobiles his entire career.

After his high school graduation Chris enrolled in Winona State College, and then later transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he earned his BS degree in business. Following graduation, he attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he earned his MBA.

Chris worked with General Electric and then with Honeywell Corporation. He was a manager in the areas of sales, marketing and venture management. He was at Honeywell for 10 years when he realized the potential of using microprocessors in small digital, electronic controls.

Chris took his creative passions and his knowledge and in 1985, along with Boyd Palsgrove who was an design engineer Chris worked with at Honeywell, founded Control Products Inc. Chris was CEO and Boyd was involved with research and development and manufacturing operations. The company prospered over the years and at one time even merged with another small electronics firm that Chris’s younger brother Jan Berghoff founded. Before long the company would have operations around the world.

Since its founding, Control Products has established itself as a global manufacturing and distribution company with three divisions. Their standard controls division offers a wide variety of off-the-shelf temperature, humidity, timers, proximity and infrared controls. Their protected home division offers products for home protection that include temperature monitoring, water leakage detection and home based security. Custom OEM designs and manufactures custom electronic control circuits for a broad range of industries, including food service equipment, medical and industrial.

In the beginning Control Products needed more resources in regard to reseach and development so Chris negotiated with outside electrical engineers to design the products they needed in exchange for a royalty on each sale, enabling the company to launch with virtually no development costs.

This story told by a friend illustrates Chris’ wisdom, caring and executive leadership. At the outset of the recent recession, Chris was forced to reduce his employment level and all remaining employees were given a pay cut. A few months later when things began to improve all pay levels were re-established, pay that employees gave up was repaid and some of the employees that were laid off were rehired.

According to this storyteller, when people are given respect and involvement and an opportunity to be a part of what you are creating, you are well on your way to building an enduring business that will live on beyond your lifetime.

In addition to his business career Chris also had over 20 years experience as an adjunct professor in marketing, leadership, strategic planning, and entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas graduate schools of business.

Chris guest lectured throughout universities in the United States and Asia and was a Babson Fellow and an adjunct professor within the MBA program of Fudan University, one of China’s premiere and oldest universities located in Shangai.

Chris married Laura Stenback in 1990. They had three children, Erik, Leah and Andra.

Of all of Chris’s accomplishments, none was as important to him as his family, and the relationships he developed throughout the local and global community. Chris was active with his children in various sports programs where he loved coaching his children. An avid athlete himself, Chris loved to play sports; run, bicycle, tennis, basketball, etc. He also enjoyed riding motorcycles and driving classic sports cars.

Chris passed away April 7, 2011, in Excelsior, after an 18-month battle against cancer. Chris loved life and all of the people he came in contact with. He lived his life with dignity and enthusiasm, and a lifelong focus on positive energy while never losing for a moment his wonderful sense of humor.