Saint Martin's University announces the recipients of its 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni 2023

Saint Martin’s University is pleased to announce the five recipients of its 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards, presented during the Homecoming festivities on Saturday, February 25, 2023. Honorees are Adele Ducharme ’92, MSN’98; Jeanne Firstenburg ’95; Gerald “Gerry” Gallagher ’83; Dr. Steven J. Olson, D.D.S. ’70; and Joseph “Joe” S. Williams HD’21.

Since the early 1980’s Saint Martin’s University has formally recognized its notable alumni. Recipients of this award were selected from nominations based on service to their community, professional achievement, or service to the university. Here are some highlights about each of this year’s award recipients:

Adele Ducharme ’92, MSN’98

Adele Ducharme graduated from Saint Martin’s with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1992 and a Master of Science in Nursing in 1998. After graduation, she began work as a registered nurse at Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, Washington, which marked the beginning of a successful career in healthcare. Adele has held various impactful roles in nursing across the country – most recently as CEO of Saint Luke’s North Region in Kansas City, Missouri. She has received numerous awards for her leadership and contributions in the healthcare field and serves as an example for our Saint Martin’s nursing students, with whom she has shared her wealth of knowledge as a guest speaker. Adele aims to continue giving back to her lasting communities, to culminate in greater success and well-being for all.

Jeanne Firstenburg ‘95

Jeanne Firstenburg graduated from Saint Martin’s with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Accounting in 1995. A leader in the banking industry, she serves as the first female president and chief operating officer of First Independent Bank. Under her leadership, she took the financial institution to new heights, raising its deposits in Clark County from $492 million to $714 million in just 7 years, and expanding online and remote banking services. Jeanne is a strong believer in the value of philanthropy and involvement. She is an active member both in her local community and within the industry, serving on numerous boards and participating in service efforts to better the community through empowering women, eliminating racism, and improving public health.

Gerald “Gerry” Gallagher ‘83

Graduating from Saint Martin’s University in 1983, Gerry Gallagher earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He and his wife Linda met while both attending. He began working on and off campus as a student and joined the construction management field as a graduate. Gerry held a 30-plus year career with GM Nameplate, where he rose through the ranks to ultimately serve as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. When the company was sold to the Boyd Corporation, Gerry moved into a leadership role in its global sales organization. He is active in the community giving back both philanthropically and through his deeply valued service to Saint Martin’s.

Dr. Steven J. Olson, D.D.S. ‘70

Dr. Steven Olson graduated from Saint Martin’s University in 1970 and completed a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry in 1974. After a 20-year distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force, Steven retired from the military and opened a private practice dental clinic. He has received many awards, both national and local, for his work in communities and in the dentistry field, including being selected one of America’s Top Dentists and one of Seattle’s Top Dentists on multiple occasions. In 1986, Olson achieved a pinnacle career moment by winning the Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry. Steven extends his service to the community through his Catholic faith and philanthropy. He remains involved at Saint Martin’s from his time as a student, to today as a passionate alumnus.

Joseph “Joe” Williams HD’21

Joe Williams was awarded an honorary degree from saint Martin’s University in 2021. He has had a diverse career spanning from service in the U.S. Army to owning and leading companies across numerous industries. He has served on many nonprofit boards, providing advice and support. His dedication to Saint Martin’s has caused significant growth in the University community. Williams’ leadership guided various facility improvements and fully funded capital projects across the campus such as Fr. Richard Cebula Hall, the Panowicz Foundry for Innovation and the E.L. Wiegand Laboratories. From his years on the Saint Martin’s Board of Trustees to serving as an involved parent and donor, he remains an involved member of the Saint Martin’s community.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 26 majors and ten graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.