Odell Johnson

2016 Award Recipients

We congratulate our Alumni Awards Recipients for their excellent work and dedication!

Alumnus of the Year - Odell Johnson, Jr '58

As a prominent leader in higher education, Odell Johnson is an outstanding alumnus who fully embodies the spirit of Saint Mary’s College. Odell began his career working as an instructor in the Fresno Unified School District. He returned to Saint Mary’s in 1968 when he became the Dean of Men and in 1970 he was promoted to Dean of Students.  He later moved to the College of Alameda where he served as the Coordinator of Special Services and Veterans Affairs, Assistant Dean of Instruction and Dean of Instruction. In 1981, he began working at Laney College in Oakland, CA where he served as President for 17 years. Since his graduation, Odell’s commitment and consistent service to Saint Mary’s has included serving on the Alumni Board of Directors, as an engaged mentor to the Black Student Union and Black Alumni Chapter and currently on the Board of Regents. His generosity of time and philanthropic commitment have led to the establishment of a new endowed scholarship benefiting undergraduate African American students.

Signum Fidei Award - Ron Turner '79

Ron Turner has served Saint Mary's College, the Christian Brothers, the SMC Alumni Association and generations of students in nearly every Advancement capacity during his career, including Alumni Director, Director of the Annual Fund, and Major Gifts Officer. His success as an innovative Advancement professional is illustrated in the thousands of relationships he's built, maintained and stewarded for Saint Mary’s over his 32 year career. Ron's intuition, passion and endless energy helped Saint Mary's pursue its mission for generations of Gaels. Ron’s achievements include millions of dollars raised, thousands of relationships secured, and most importantly, countless opportunities leading to the success of our students and alumni of the College.

Honorary Alumna - Nancy Gracey Richardson

Nancy Gracey Richardson has been committed to supporting Saint Mary’s College as a volunteer, friend, and benefactor for more than 15 years. After initially becoming connected through her love of athletics, her relationship with the College has evolved and deepened into every aspect of the Saint Mary’s community. Nancy is the Chair of the School of Science Advisory Board, is a Brother Albert Rahill Society member, and a season ticket holder for Gaels basketball. She has established an endowed scholarship and is helping to lead the effort to raise funds and garner exposure for the School of Science’s recent achievements. Her engagement has been paramount in securing grants, bringing new donors to the College, and modeling enthusiastic participation in the life of the College.

Saint John Baptist de la Salle Award - Ted Tsukahara '62

For the past 24 years, Ted Tsukahara has served the College as a dedicated faculty member, alumni volunteer and philanthropic supporter. Following a successful career in corporate strategic planning and finance, Ted returned to Saint Mary’s to join the faculty of Graduate Business.  He currently serves as the Director of the John F. Henning Institute, professor of Economics and is an Integral Program tutor. In addition to his faculty commitments, Ted serves as a faculty representative on the Alumni Board of Directors, is Chair of the United States Advisory Board, and former President of the Association for the Study of Generosity Economics. At Saint Mary's he has twice served as Chair of the Academic Senate and Faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, Interim Dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration and served as Director of the Bay Area Consortium for Higher Education. A true product of the Christian Brothers, coming to Saint Mary’s College from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, Ted has dedicated a significant portion of his life to the mission of Saint Mary’s, both in the classroom and beyond.

Meritorious Service Award - J.G. Larochette '02

J.G. Larochette left Saint Mary’s with a deep desire to work with children. He began his career as a Site Coordinator for Sports4Kids at Laurel Elementary in Oakland and later for Coronado Elementary in Richmond. In his first years working with children of the East Bay, he built a strong connection with the communities he served, and was focused on equity and creating a safe, fun, and engaging playground. J.G. founded Mindful Life Project in May 2012 after working with South Richmond youth and their families for a decade. As a classroom teacher, J.G.’s partner schools, which are in economically underserved communities, are overwhelmed with a need for prevention and intervention programs to support emotional development and combat cyclical patterns of defiance, violence, and negative learning environments. In creating the Mindful Life Project, J.G. provides a space where all students feel valued, empowered, loved and encouraged to excel both socially and academically.

GOLD Award - Freddie Silveria '11

In 2014, Freddie Silveria founded Freddie Speaks and embarked on his journey as a professional speaker. Currently traveling across the United States and Canada, Freddie speaks to youth for “Breaking Down The Walls,” a program designed to bring unity to campuses and emphasize individual growth, violence prevention and campus awareness. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Freddie is a priceless asset to the alumni association. Engaged, loyal and philanthropic - he is the gold standard for young alumni - illustrating passionate connectedness to the institution. In his hometown of Sacramento, Freddie has taken a leadership role in the alumni chapter, galvanizing the support of local alumni and strengthening the network of Gaels through events and social media, increasing both engagement and Gael pride.

2016 Alumni Awards Gallery

See the images from the 2016 Alumni Awards on Saturday, February 13.

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Decades Later, Gaels Honored for Supporting Beloved Dean

by Erin Hallissy

Odell Johnson enjoyed his time at Saint Mary's.