Note: Though this is an atypical post, it’s a way to share the message with a broader circle of individuals who know Mary Jo Richardson as a teacher, colleague or friend. It seemed the most efficient way to share a bit of good news.
Mary Jo Ryan Richardson, who graduated from and taught at St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the recipient of the 2013 St Joseph’s Academy Distinguished Alumna Award presented by the SJA Alumnae Association.
Richardson is well remembered by SJA classmates and students alike. Mary Jo’s SJA classmate and lifetime friend, Mary Lou Klas, remembers Mary Jo as “the diplomat.” At SJA they worked together on the yearbook. The two leaders were at the forefront when the Academy made the monumental shift from blue uniforms to the stylish head-to-toe green of happy memory.
The two friends went on to share leadership in college when they were elected president and vice president of the student governing body at the College of St. Catherine.. While Mary Lou spawned ideas, Mary Jo, the diplomat, worked those ideas through the system, an exercise that served Mary Jo well in her professional life.
In nominating her Social Studies teacher Mary Treacy recalls “Social Studies was a lively class in my day at SJA – In part because of the era, even more because of our inspiring young teacher, Mrs. Richardson. The nation and the world were in flux – We learned about China, about famine, world religions, racial disparities and what it would be like to vote some day.
Another of Richardson’s students, Mary Clare Lodahl wrote of her teacher, “Mary Jo Richardson presented Catholic Social Teaching as something to practice in our daily lives. She taught that feeding and clothing the poor, helping the sick, abused and derelict, was a personal responsibility, not just a recommendation from the New Testament.”
Richardson’s career path included a variety of administrative and educational roles. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Catherine, then later in her career an EdD from the University of St. Thomas. She served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Commission on National and Community Service for several years. She was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the Minnesota State Board of Education.
Today Richardson lives most of the time in Shoreview and winters in Fort Myers, Florida. Recently she wrote of her SJA experiences in a thoughtful article for the Ramsey County History magazine. Appropriately, the title of the article is “A School to Remember: St. Joseph’s Academy: The Legacy Lives On.”
The Distinguished Alumna Award will be presented at the SJA Alumnae Association Spring Luncheon and Style Show, Tuesday, 10:00-2:00 on Tuesday, April 30, at Midland Hills Country Cub in Roseville. Frank Murphy’s will provide fashions for the annual Style Show.