Press Release

Saint Mary's College Announces 2009 Outstanding Young Alumna Award Recipient


Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
(574) 284-4579

May 27, 2009 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—The Outstanding Young Alumna Award, awarded annually by the Alumnae Association of Saint Mary's College, honors a woman who is outstanding in her personal, professional or volunteer accomplishments and exemplifies the standards, ideals, and mission of the College and the Alumnae Association. The 2009 recipient is Gayla Spenney ’97 of Scottsdale, Ariz. She will receive the award at the Reunion Banquet on Saturday, June 6 as part of Reunion Weekend, June 4-7.

Spenney has been a voice for the voiceless and help to the helpless since her career in social work began soon after graduating from Saint Mary’s College. While she majored in communication studies and English literature, Spenney felt a calling to social work soon after graduation. Her career path began in Phoenix working for Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, while beginning her master’s degree in social work at Arizona State University.

In addition to work and school, Spenney became a dedicated Big Sister to two children. This interaction with kids paved the way for her next career step, going to work for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona as a match support specialist. Upon completing her master’s degree from Arizona State University, Spenney found her way to Catholic Charities where she works as the shelter supervisor at My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter for women and their children in Chandler, Ariz. In 2006, Catholic Charities honored Spenney with an exceptional service award for her dedication to helping victims of domestic violence.

In addition to her career and volunteer work, Spenney has also been a vital force in keeping the College’s Arizona Alumnae Club alive and well. She currently sits on the club’s board and has been involved in the planning of functions like the Freshmen Send-Off Mass, luncheons and book club meetings, among other things. She also spearheaded the Thanksgiving Volunteer Project, pairing the Arizona Alumnae Club with My Sister’s Place for a Thanksgiving Meal.

If you are with the media and would like to arrange an interview, please contact Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations at Saint Mary's College.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 major areas of study. The College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the nation's top liberal arts colleges in U.S. News & World Report's 2009 annual survey. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.