A medical doctor specializing in infectious diseases, a state archaeologist, a United Nations World Food program employee — they are just three of 10 esteemed Brainerd High School alumnae who will be inducted into the 2020 Legendary Women of Brainerd Public Schools hall of fame.

A reception is scheduled 5-7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the atrium of the Media Center at the BHS north campus. The induction ceremony is expected to begin at 5:30 p.m.

The women — Dr. Julie Beasley, Jean Echternacht, Kyung Endres, Elsa Hasch Garrison, Lea Hanson, Christy Hohman, Lauren Nickisch, Jennifer Nyberg, Sister Mara Lester and Dr. Connie Savor Price — are living vibrant lives of service with grace, compassion and leadership literally around the world, a committee member stated in a news release.

“Our remarkable BPS women started on their paths of excellence, leadership and service at Brainerd Public Schools,” the release stated. “They carry with them their upbringing in the Brainerd lakes area, as well as the learning and experiences acquired within our schools.

What makes them truly legendary is that they have shared their learning and experiences in places near and far, but they were tutored, modeled for, coached, directed and educated within the proud heritage and people of almost 150 years of Brainerd Public Schools and the greater Brainerd community.”

The Legendary Women of Brainerd Public Schools began in 2019 with 20 women honored. Sherri DeLaHunt, committee member, said Thursday the organization committee along with John Erickson, archivist/curator of Brainerd Public Schools Archives, wanted to begin a Hall of Fame type event to honor extraordinary, remarkable women who attended BHS over the decades.

“In our experience we felt women were underrepresented and this is a way to bring them forward as there are many women who are well deserving,” DeLaHunt said. “When we first brainstormed ideas we had a list of 80 women who are deserving of this honor.”

The ceremony coincides with National Women’s History Month to celebrate the vital role of women in American history. It allows Brainerd to acknowledge and honor its own alumnae, who are currently making a difference in the world and acting as role models for youths.

“If just one student walks by the exhibit and says that could be me, I could be an inspiration to others and be a legendary woman, we have done our job,” DeLaHunt said of the exhibit that will be on display through the end of the school year. “To have a young woman be aspiring to make a difference in the world and become a future legendary woman.”

At the ceremony — eight of the 10 women will be in attendance. Nyberg is in Madrid and will be represented by BHS teacher David Borash, a lifelong friend. Price is in Denver and, given the coronavirus outbreak and her speciality in infectious diseases, cannot attend but will be represented by her mother, Jeanne Anderson.

The committee also will have copies of a book on the women honored in last year’s exhibit. Lakes Printing published the books as a donation and the book will be available for a free-will offering to those interested.

Dr. Julie Beasley
Dr. Julie Beasley

Dr. Julie Beasley

Beasley, a 1991 BHS graduate, was one of two BHS athletes to win a state gymnastics championship and set the then-school record for highest score in diving. She was the 1991 female Athlete of the Year, Sports Hall of Fame member and a National Honor Society student. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Hampshire.

She coached all levels at the Gymnastics Academy of Boston, did lab work for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a test to determine antibiotic levels in milk and assisted in research and development of a test to determine end point cooking temperatures for pre-cooked meat.

Beasley graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston and received a certificate in endodontics. She built her endodontic practice in 2005. She received awards for her stem cell research and for seven years organized and led volunteer dental students and professionals to Haiti to provide free dental services.

Jean Echternacht
Jean Echternacht

Jean Echternacht

Echternacht, a 1969 BHS graduate, devoted her life to collaborating with people with disabilities and the disadvantaged. She worked in partnership with American Indian communities to create culturally appropriate strategies for successful transition from high school to college and adulthood.

Echternacht was an activist at BHS, in the Latin and French clubs, Student Council and National Honor Society, among other activities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth; a master’s in learning disabilities and emotional disturbances from University of St. Thomas; and a doctorate in education/educational leadership from the University of Minnesota.

She worked in numerous academic and non-academic settings, including the Institute on Community Integration of the University of Minnesota, as teacher, computer coordinator, grant manager, research assistant, project director, consultant and adjunct faculty.

Her passion is serving others, including refugee Vietnamese babies and children, students with disabilities, the disadvantaged and black urban students.

Kyung Endres
Kyung Endres

Kyung Endres

Endres, a 1988 BHS graduate, grew up in a family dedicated to hands-on community service, human rights and the special needs of others.

She earned a biology degree from Hamline University and taught English in Korea. While living in Asia, she backpacked through China, then joined the Peace Corps, which introduced her to international development — assisting others to fulfill their potential, her life’s work and purpose.

Endres earned her master’s at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and began working for firms supporting international development programs. The first 10 years of her work helped support over $90 billion of programming directly assisting 105 million people. She worked in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. She started her own firm, True Panacea, assisting in places around the world that are resource barren.

Endres’ current work is on a global food security project seeking to prevent famine by predicting food shortages. The project shares data with governments and international organizations, such as the United Nations.

Elsa Hasch Garrison
Elsa Hasch Garrison

Elsa Hasch Garrison

Garrison, a 1990 BHS graduate, won an award as a photographer on the Brainonian yearbook staff, which was the first of a lifelong series of successes in her career as a sports photographer. Garrison was a journalist with the school newspaper and a photographer at the Brainerd Dispatch for a year. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri.

She became the first woman hired as a staff photographer by a boutique global sport photo agency based in London, later acquired by Getty Images. She was the first woman hired by Getty as a staff photographer and was the only woman on staff for the first decade.

She has photographed many major sporting events including Super Bowls, World Series, FIFA Women’s World Cups in Canada and France, FIFA Men’s World Cup in Brazil and Russia, Summer Olympic Games in London and Rio de Janeiro. Her next major assignment is the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

Lea Hanson
Lea Hanson

Lea Hanson

Hanson, a 1997 BHS graduate, was a BHS activist and a member in choir, Minnesota All State Lutheran Choir, Key Club and the swim team. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of North Dakota, a master’s in student affairs in higher education and a doctorate in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University.

Hanson’s work has included administrative positions at the Universities of Montana and Colorado State and as adjunct instructor, instructor, assistant professor at Northern Colorado and Colorado State. She now maintains dual appointments in the business and education colleges at Colorado State. She has worked in private sector marketing/communication and is the owner/consultant in her own business.

Hanson is engaged in northern Colorado community affairs, including chambers of commerce, United Way, sexual assault victim advocacy, a Women’s Commission, leadership initiatives and domestic abuse advocacy. She volunteered for the national office of It’s On Us, which combats college sexual assault by engaging young men and changing campus cultures.

Hanson earned awards for her work in sexual assault victim advocacy and domestic abuse. She’s also published professional papers on gender, health, workplace, hazing, volunteer accountability, defamation, domestic abuse, gay partner rights, pregnancy discrimination, indigenous names as symbols of school spirit and legal issues relating to foreign students.

Christy Hohman
Christy Hohman

Christy Hohman

Hohman, a 1962 BHS graduate, was in debate, the student newspaper and finished as an honor graduate with distinction. She graduated from Hamline University and earned a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Minnesota. She taught anthropology, Ojibwe culture, Native American-U.S. law and archaeology in Canada and at Normandale Community College, Hamline and the University of Minnesota. She served as the Minnesota state archaeologist, working with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the individual tribal nations. She worked on the preservation and rescue of unmarked graves, mainly of Native Americans; the repatriation of human remains and grave goods; and the repatriation of artifacts previously stored at museums and other institutions.

As a social science planner and cultural resource specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, Hohman developed and trained others in cultural resource management and preservation, including the conduct of workshops about Native American issues and issues surrounding

women in the workforce.

Sister Mara Lester
Sister Mara Lester

Sister Mara Lester

Briana Lester, 2002 BHS graduate, now goes by Sister Mara Lester. Lester went to state in gymnastics, was on the honor roll and was a member of symphonic band, wind ensemble, jazz band, Key Club and Spanish Club. She was also a Triple Academics, Athletics, Arts Award winner.

Lester attended Saint Mary’s University in Winona and transferred to Michigan State, graduating with honors with a degree in human biology. After her first year in college it became clear to her the Lord was calling her to a religious life. She vowed to live a life of “poverty, chastity, obedience and service to the poor, the sick and the ignorant until death.”

She earned her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and completed a psychiatry residency at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis.

Lauren Nickisch
Lauren Nickisch

Lauren Nickisch

Nickisch, a 1997 BHS graduate, has led a classic “life immersed in art” as an arts educator and advocate and as a multitalented performing artist. At BHS, she was involved in band, newspaper writing, extemporaneous reading, National Honor Society and was an honor graduate with distinction.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Minnesota and a master’s in performing arts from Goddard College. She was a music educator in choral and classroom music in the Brainerd School District.

She was honored as Brainerd Teacher of the Year/Minnesota Honor Roll Teacher. She wrote and performed “Hephzibeth, Woman of Iron,” which chronicled the life of her great-grandmother, and wrote “The Worthless Wall” about cultural similarities and difference after a tour of China. She was a co-writer of “Reunion Revenge” and “Variety of Victims,” murder mystery dinner theater plays performed across Minnesota for 18 years.

Jennifer Nyberg
Jennifer Nyberg

Jennifer Nyberg

Nyberg, a 1981 BHS graduate, learned Spanish in high school, was a National Honor Society member and named an Outstanding Art student.

She has been employed at the United Nations since 1999 and is the head of the Spanish office of the United Nations World Food Program. Her U.N. work has included external relations, partnership and resource mobilization, fundraising, governance, advocacy, senior advisory roles to executive staff, operations, needs assessment, program development, technical cooperation, media relations, economic and commodity market analysis and trade policy.

Nyberg earned a degree from Hamline University in economics, Spanish, Latin American Studies and a master’s in agriculture and applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

Connie Savor Price
Connie Savor Price

Dr. Connie Savor Price

Price, a 1987 BHS graduate, was a three-year letter winner, scholar athlete on the state and national champion danceline team, involved in a cappella choir, played tennis and was an honor roll student and served as vice president of the class cabinet.

Price graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Beloit College with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a minor in journalism; medical degree in internal medicine from Northwestern University and a fellowship at National Institute of Health in infectious disease and a fellowship at Northwestern University in clinical microbiology.

Price is board certified in internal medicine, infectious disease and clinical microbiology. She joined the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2002 as a professor of medicine and joined the staff at Denver Health Medical Center. Price served as chief of infectious diseases, as a medical director of infection control and prevention and presently is the chief medical officer.

Her research focuses on the treatment and prevention of infections acquired in the healthcare setting. She has investigated infectious diseases outbreaks in many countries. She has delivered more than 175 lectures on the prevention of healthcare associated infectious diseases and related topics at conferences around the world.

If you go

  • What: The 2020 Legendary Women of Brainerd Public Schools induction hall of fame.

  • When: A reception is scheduled 5-7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in the atrium of the Media Center at the Brainerd High School north campus. The induction ceremony is expected to begin at 5:30 p.m.

  • How to get there with construction: Enter the South Fifth Street entrance door labeled “Athletic Entrance” on the south end of BHS. Parking is limited.



JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.