November 4, 2011
FARGO, ND - Fargo resident Adele Swenson was honored with the University of Mary Harold Schafer Leadership Award at a special event at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, on Nov. 3, 2011. The prestigious award was given by America's Leadership University in recognition of Swenson's distinguished achievements as a servant leader on a regional, national, and community level.
"Adele has not just been a lifelong learner, but a lifelong doer, who has put what she has learned - in and out of the classroom - into action whenever the need and opportunity have been presented," said Father James Shea, university president. "In both her professional and personal life, she has given generously of her talents. For her lifetime of selfless commitment to others and distinguished achievements as a servant leader, we are proud and delighted to present Adele Swenson with the Harold Schafer Leadership Award."
The invitation-only event brought together close to 300 U-Mary Fargo alumni and friends and members of the university community.
Adele Swenson was born in the Kindred, ND, area in 1922 to Henry and Inga Swenson. She and her sister, Katherine grew up on the family farm.
Adele graduated from Kindred High School in 1940 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Jamestown College. She then moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked for the government, eventually joining the U.S. Navy personnel department, where she helped to design training programs, including two spearheaded by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
After the war, Swenson returned to North Dakota and taught high school. She then moved to St. Paul, where she took courses in business and cost accounting at the University of Minnesota. After putting these skills to use at a St. Paul printing firm, she joined the management team of the Girl Scouts of America and later became executive director of the River Trails Girl Scout Council. Her work in this position drew the attention of the Radiological Society of North America, which appointed her executive director in 1971. During her 14 years in this position, she played an important role in its growth and evolution.
In 1984, Swenson helped found the RSNA Research and Education Foundation, which funds grants and awards to advance radiologic research, education and practice. That year, she received the RSNA's highest honor, the Gold Medal Award, for her service to the science of radiology, and in 2010, the RSNA Research and Education Foundation named an annual grant in her honor. Adele is also the recipient of the American Association of Women Radiologists' Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award for her outstanding contribution to women in the field of radiology.
Service and leadership have also been a hallmark of Swenson's life outside of her profession. Richly blessed with family and friends, she has given generously of her talents as a volunteer throughout her life. She counts working with inner-city children through an inter-faith program with Catholic sisters in Syracuse, NY, and dealing with "the heartbreak of poverty," among her most significant life experiences. An active proponent of intercultural and inter-generational education, she helped bring together young and old in an innovative program at a senior center located in a middle school in Central Minnesota, and hopes to carry forward the concept at the Fargo active adult retirement community, where she now lives and works on life enrichment issues.
Swenson also designs and writes part of her church's monthly newsletter. She has lent her wisdom and insights to the University of Mary as a member of its board of regents since 1992.