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Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

​The Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award presented by Chippewa Valley Technical College. The award is presented annually at the Alumni Spring Gala.


About the Recipient
2014Paula Kimbllin
Lead by example. That is one of Paula Kimbllin’s greatest motivators. Paula graduated from CVTC with an accounting degree and spent her 35-year career with Xcel Energy motivating others in their careers and giving back to the community with her ties to Junior Achievement, Relay for Life, Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, and more. Congratulations to Paula for being the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award and thank you for representing CVTC.
2013Jeff Urlaub
According to Jeff Urlaub, CVTC helped inspire a love of lifelong learning while helping him get his start. Jeff, founder and CEO of MEP Associates, is the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus. He graduated from CVTC in 1989 and 1993. He spends many hours volunteering for a wide variety of activities in the community, including staying connected to CVTC. Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you for all you do for the community.
2012Mark Franson
Congratulations to Mark Franson, our 2012 Distinguished Alumnus. Mark, Vice President of Bartingale Mechanical, has been instrumental in the continued growth of CVTC and our communities. “I’m happy to help out however I can,” Mark states. “CVTC has played a big role in my personal and professional life.” Shortly after graduating in 1986, Mark joined the team at Bartingale Mechanical and today is the Vice President in charge of operations. “It’s kind of cool being selected this year, the College’s 100-year anniversary.”
2011Wendy StelterWendy Stelter
We are honored to recognize Wendy Stelter, Chippewa Falls Police Chief, as the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus. Wendy has used her training from CVTC and UW-Stout to reach her high career goals. She is someone who is always willing to help people in the community and at CVTC, from volunteering at functions such as the Law Enforcement Special Olympics program to serving on boards of the domestic abuse shelter and teen runaway center to speaking to CVTC students in the criminal justice program. "I love what I do and I want to do anything I can to help get the right people into this career."
2010Jon HehliJon Hehli
"CVTC sets its students up for success from day one."  This is from CVTC 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Jon Hehli. He graduated from CVTC's Accounting program in 1974 and is clearly dedicated to the Chippewa Valley both personally and professionally. He serves as Chief Financial Officer for RCU. He is an accomplished and respected baseball and basketball coach as well as a mentor to many. Jon has dedicated countless hours to volunteering within the valley in numerous roles. His dedication to community is admirable.
2009Mike StrandMike Strand
Technoentrepreneur Mike Strand is CVTC's 2009 Distinguished Alumnus.  Strand acquired degrees at CVTC in both electronics and data processing and went on to found and operate Strandware, a company that eventually reached over $20 million in sales of bar code, printing, and tracking software.  He founded the company in 1988 and sold it after 13 years of operation.  Currently, he is CEO of strandvision, a digital signage company.
2008Tom DayTom Day
Tom Day, manager of the Ken Vance body shop in Eau Claire, with a staff of nine, is responsible for the auto body enterprise at the Vance dealership. A manager since 1989, he recalls fondly his education in the auto body program at CVTC. Bob (Jacobson) and Monte (Pedersen) taught the technology and much more, Day says. "They taught work ethic, that you had to show up for work on time and ready to make a good impression with customers," Day said. The Ken Vance manager found a way to give back as well.  Fourteen years ago he started a career exploration night for prospective students and parents.  The model was successful at CVTC - enrollments have been strong since - and is now copied by more than a dozen dealerships and technical colleges around the state.
2007Frank BuchegerFrank Bucheger
Frank Bucheger began his 30 year career at W.S. Darley (manufacturer and dealer of firefighting equipment in Chippewa Falls) as a machinist. He rose to assistant plant manager and then to vice president of manufacturing. Frank is currently employed at OEM of Woodville, Wisconsin, as the company’s continuous improvement manager. He has served on the CVTC Board of Trustees since 1995, including terms as chair, secretary, and liaison to the Foundation Board. He also served on the CVTC Machine Tool Advisory Committee for 19 years.
2006Judy King GehlerJudy King Gehler
Judy King Gehler transitioned from a single parent working for minimum wage to a professional in the human resources field. She took evening classes for 10 years while working full-time, before achieving the first of her three associate degrees. Realizing firsthand the difficulties of balancing a career and raising children, Judy established scholarships for students in the Child Care Services and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse programs.   She has earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UW-Stout.
2005Tina SundlyTina Sundly
After her 1987 graduation from the Administrative Assistant program, Tina Sundly spent several years working for health care organizations, ultimately promoted to patients accounts manager at Luther Midelfort. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Cardinal Stritch University, and in 2002 she assumed a position in charge of business development for the Eau Claire CPA and business consulting firm, Wipfli LLP. When honored in 2005, Sundly was employed as strategic alignment manager with Wipfli.
2004Connie Holden PetersonConnie Holden Peterson
After graduation from CVTC’s Accounting Program, Connie Holden Peterson began her career at Ayres Associates in 1977. At the time that she was honored as the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus, she had been employed at Ayres for 27 years, holding the position of Vice President of Human Resources. Under Connie’s leadership, Ayres Associates sponsors an annual scholarship for CVTC students, provides job-shadowing opportunities to students, and encourages staff to serve on program advisory committees. She is very much involved with civic and professional organizations.
2003Steve SchloughSteve Schlough
As a Ph.D., department chair, and associate professor in the Communications Education and Training Department at UW-Stout, Steve Schlough credited his earlier education at CVTC (known then as District One) as sparking his love for learning. He has returned to CVTC for training several times, even after earning his Ph.D. In summer 2002 he taught a course entitled “Coordination and Supervision of Career and Technical Education.” Steve said at the time of his award, “I believe this is coming full-circle.”
2002Roger LequeRoger Leque
River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque values the training he received at CVTC. “It was wonderful, practical education,” he said. “The faculty really cared about the quality of our training.” Leque’s resume now includes a bachelor’s degree, and he is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. At the time of his award, he led a department of 22 full-time sworn officers and seven civilian employees. Roger gives back to CVTC in numerous ways: he has spoken at graduations and he serves on the Alumni Association Board.
2001Pete PetersonRichard (Pete) Peterson
Richard “Pete” Peterson points to his 1967 accounting degree as the foundation of his banking career. After graduation from District One followed by four years in the Air Force, he was hired as a management trainee at First Wisconsin National Bank in Eau Claire. He rose up the bank ladder of success. At the time of his award, Pete was president of Firstar Bank, which had more than $200 million in assets. “The accounting degree got me in the door,” said Peterson. He has served on advisory committees and the Alumni Board, established scholarships, and delivered commencement speeches at CVTC.
2000Mark AndersonMark Anderson
Mark D. Anderson came to CVTC as a UW – Eau Claire biology graduate. He received his Associate Degree in Nursing in 1984. After three years as a staff nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital, he was promoted to director of Medical/Telemetry, overseeing the largest inpatient department at the hospital for 12 years. By the time of his 2000 award, Anderson was serving as director of Sacred Heart Hospital’s Institution Improvement Department, overseeing processes pertaining to quality and the institution’s accreditation efforts.
1999Cheryl KeeganCheryl Keegan
Cheryl Keegan graduated in 1983 with an Accounting degree. She then received her Bachelor’s degree from Cardinal Stritch College in 1996. Cheryl’s long career with Blue Cross Blue Shield began in 1989. In addition to superb work experience and advancement, Cheryl distinguished herself through volunteer efforts, contributing to a variety of clubs and organizations in the area.
1998Jeff WestJeff West
Jeff West, a 1981 Industrial Electronics graduate, was named the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus. In 1980, after reading a copy of Scientific American devoted to micro-processors, West knew his career path. He began a career in semi-conductors. In October 1996, with five other partners, he began Silicon Logic Engineering. Jeff was recognized with the second Distinguished Alumni award.
1997Mark SentiMark Senti
CVTC’s first Distinguished Alumni Award was awarded to Mark Senti, 1988 graduate of the Electromechanical program. At the time of this award, Mark was Vice-President of Advanced Magnet Lab in Florida. His firm had been awarded major contracts to design and build the magnets of a superconducting collider to be built for scientists at Brookhaven national Laboratory. Mark wrote to thank the college, “I am very proud to serve as your first award recipient. CVTC is one of the finest technical institutions of its kind….I am always proud of my educational experience at CVTC."