Executive Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications
President Jenifer K. Ward announces new members to the Luther College Board of Regents
September 28, 2020
Luther College President Jenifer K. Ward is announcing Willie Davismckennie '84, Vanessa (Grima Baldacchino) Frazier '90 and Dr. Mark V. Larson '78 will join the Luther College Board of Regents.
"This is a diverse slate of new regents, whose collective experience as physicians, diplomats and maker-based business owners shows the variety of paths Luther College graduates take toward success," said President Ward. "They bring a deep love for their alma mater to the Board of Regents, combined with skills and talents that will be welcome additions to our already strong board."
The regents serve as trustees and stewards, ensuring that Luther fulfills its mission and that the needs of students, faculty, staff and other college constituents are being met. Davismckennie, Frazier and Larson will participate in their first official Board of Regents meeting in October.
Willie Davismckennie '84
Willie Davismckennie is a successful small business owner who started his company from the ground up. He is the owner and founder of 22 Wood Works, a custom woodworking business that specializes in commercial and custom cabinetry, based in Mundelein, Illinois.
When Davismckennie isn't constructing cabinets or working with clients, he is working to serve others. For decades, he has been among Luther's most dedicated and energized volunteers, helping at alumni events, connecting graduates across generations and sharing his inspiring story with prospective students.
He and his wife, Denise Davismckennie '82, currently serve as co-presidents of the Luther College Alumni Council (2018-2020), having been members since 1994. Long before Luther created formal programs for Alumni Ambassadors and alumni mentoring, Davismckennie informally took on these important roles by recruiting and supporting students. Now, he is starting his second year as part of Luther's new Vocational Inspired Alumni Mentoring Program, which pairs alumni with current Luther students.
Davismckennie is also an active volunteer at his local church, police department and in his community at large. He has served two terms as the Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus and is currently a trustee.
A 1984 graduate, Davismckennie double majored in art and public communication. He was inducted into Luther's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 in recognition of his leadership and performance in men's basketball.
He and his wife have two sons, Xavier and Zenen '16.
Vanessa (Grima Baldacchino) Frazier '90
Vanessa (Grima Baldacchino) Frazier is the permanent representative of Malta to the United Nations, the first woman to assume this title. Her career began as a student diplomat in 1992 while studying at the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies. Since then, Frazier has risen through the ranks with appointments in Washington, Rome, London and Brussels. She has served as ambassador for immigration and a six-year term as director for defense matters and acting permanent secretary of the ministry for foreign affairs. Most recently, from 2013-2019, Frazier was Malta's ambassador to Italy, with concurrent accreditation to San Marino and to the Rome-based United Nations agencies.
Among Frazier's many awards and accolades, she is most praised for her role in Malta's humanitarian response to the Libyan revolution in 2011 when she worked to create the Humanitarian Hub in Malta. It proved to be one of the most impactful Maltese efforts in resolving the Libyan crisis.
Frazier graduated from Luther in 1990 with majors in French and business management and went on to earn her master's degree in diplomatic studies from the University of Malta. During Luther's 2019 Commencement, Frazier delivered an inspiring address to the graduating class and received an honorary degree from the college.
Frazier and her husband, Marco William Frazier, have two children, Julian and Nicole. They currently live in New York City.
Dr. Mark V. Larson '78
Dr. Mark V. Larson is a veteran in medicine. He is a consultant in gastroenterology in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he has worked for more than 30 years. He also serves as the Mayo Clinic Enterprise Medical Director of Provider Relations and the Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which consists of 48 domestic and international healthcare systems.
In addition, Larson works to educate the students responsible for the future of medicine. He holds the academic rank of associate professor of medicine and is a five-time recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award by Mayo Medical School and Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
Larson is a long-time member of the executive committee of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology within Mayo's Department of Internal Medicine; he has also served as chair of the finance committee and finance executive committees within that division.
Larson also serves on a multitude of boards and committees for organizations outside of Mayo Clinic including the American Medical Association, the American Gastroenterological Association, Hope Lodge, the Olmsted County chapter of the American Cancer Society, Luther's Rochester Hub Advisory Committee, and he has served two terms as president of his church, Zumbro Lutheran Church, in Rochester, Minnesota.
A 1978 graduate from Luther, Larson majored in biology and earned his M.D. at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. He was Luther's commencement speaker in 2006.
He and his wife, Dr. Amy Williams, live in Elgin, Minnesota. They have two daughters, Eliza Ruth and Hanna.
Luther College is home to more than 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.
Executive Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications