Class of 1997 Spring 2018 Letter

Spring 2018

Dear Member of the Class of 1997,

Even though it may seem at times as though the Midwest is still in the middle of winter, we know spring is just around the corner. If this season has you daydreaming about taking a trip, you might get your fix by reading Luther students’ J-term blogs at This January, 286 students participated in one of Luther’s 17 programs around the globe, studying everything from choral singing in Namibia and South Africa, to religion and corporate culture in Japan, to entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.

These experiences have profound impacts on students. As Izzy Michaud ’19, who studied environmental issues at Holden Village in the Pacific Northwest, writes, “My time at Holden has . . . renewed my faith in people and in God. It has allowed me to find parts of myself that I believed to be lost, and it has given me good courage for the journey ahead.” Experiences like Izzy’s are hallmarks in a Luther College student’s journey.

If a trip abroad or to Holden Village isn’t in your near future, remember, Decorah is also a great place to visit, especially in the spring/summer. Consider making plans to attend these upcoming events:  the Oneota Film Festival, April 19-22 ( and Nordic Fest, July 26-28 ( Also, did you know there are two breweries in Decorah? Toppling Goliath ( and Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. ( have made Decorah a beer tourism destination! If you haven’t been to Decorah recently, be sure to check out for area hotels, B&Bs, coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping. 

Also, as many of you know, Thursday, March 8, was Luther's third annual Giving Day! Thousands tuned in to an all-day livestream from Marty's and joined the fun through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more). Overall, a whopping $478,193 was raised for the Luther Fund - WOW! If you'd like to relive the fun (and see the 12-hour livestream), visit THANK YOU to all who donated and made this day such a success!

Finally, Luther’s Board of Regents voted in February to approve a new strategic plan: “Inspired. Empowered. Engaged.” The new five-year plan is designed to make Luther more dynamic and innovative in its support of the 21st-century liberal arts student. Expect to hear more about the exciting changes ahead as we begin implementing the plan.

Thank you to all who supported Luther in 2017. Please consider supporting Luther students with a donation to the Luther Fund this year. Use the attached form and the reusable envelope or visit to give!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy spring season!

Annette (Younes) Baltes
1997 Class Agent
[email protected]

Sara Isbell Cunningham
1997 Class Agent
[email protected]

Jodi (Nelsen) Dettman
1997 Class Agent
[email protected]

Geoff Pesanka
1997 Class Agent
[email protected]



Brian Berg of Mission Viejo, Calif., is director of sales technology for Pacific Life.

Jesse Boeding is director product marketing at Blackboard in Washington, D.C.

Jean (Nietz) Ciola is a chiropractor at Agada Chiropractic and Integrative Health Center in Minnetonka, Minn. 

Kirsten Alworth is the community support agent for PerBlue in Madison, Wis.

Jared Johnson is director of worship, music, communications, technology, and children’s ministries at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Kristi (Carlsen) McConnell is an ESL specialist at Dauphin County Technical High School in Harrisburg, Pa.

Chris Mitchell teaches eighth grade science at Oregon (Wis.) Middle School.

Jill (Monis) Schwanz is senior quality manager, CPD, at Clearwater Paper in Shelby, N.C.


JULIE BUSH and Brian Buerman, Nov. 22, 2014

CURTISS HELLA and Jennifer Dragich, Aug. 4, 2017