Minnesota State University Moorhead will present alumni awards to seven of its graduates at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 in the Comstock Memorial Union ballroom during its annual Homecoming celebration. The Night of the Dragons combines two great MSUM traditions–the Athletics Hall of Fame and the Distinguished Alumni Celebration–for one special night celebrating the achievements of our Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni award recipients.

Receiving Distinguished Alumni Awards: Captain David S. Carlson, U.S. Navy, retired, and senior vice president of Unified Communications and Collaboration Sales at MicroTech; Deb Dawson, founder and board president of African Soul, American Heart; Beth Haseltine, manager of clinical development – bereavement at Hospice of the Red River Valley; Alice Richter, a retired partner at KPMG LLP; and George Vinson, a sergeant with the Fargo Police Department.

Receiving the Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Kathleen “Kit” Mitchell, a field researcher at the Southern Sierra Research Station.

Receiving the Outstanding Service Award: Shelda Warren, a retired MSUM professor.

A closer look at the award winners:

Captain David S. Carlson, a Parkers Prairie, Minn., native, is a 1966 music graduate who also graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and National Defense University in Washington, D.C.  During his 34-year Navy career, he flew in Vietnam; was deployed on a variety of aircraft carriers; was a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell to help develop the Desert Storm war plan; and was director of operations for the Navy Foreign Military Sales program. Carlson retired in 1994 and was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal, the fifth highest in precedence.

Carlson was a lobbyist for American League for Exports and Security Assistance before joining SIGCOM in 1996. He led the company’s sales efforts and arranged the communications division acquisition by MicroTech in 2008. He is senior vice president of Unified Communications and Collaboration Sales.

He and his wife, Marlene, live in Alexandria, Va., and at their Lake Ida home in Alexandria, Minn.

View the David Carlson video.


Fargo native Deb Dawson received her master of fine arts degree in creative writing in 1999. She produced the award-winning documentary, African Soul, American Heart, which chronicles the lives of orphans in Duk Payeul in southern Sudan. It also cemented Dawson’s future as the founder and board president of African Soul, American Heart (ASAH). The ASAH Boarding School for Orphan Girls opened in February 2012, housing and educating 15 girls, ages eight to 17.  The program shelters, feeds, nurtures and educates 50 orphan girls, teaching them practical life skills, protecting them from marriage at puberty and training them as leaders.

Her photographic stories, Faces of South Sudan, have exhibited at regional art galleries and will be on display November through December at St. Croix Galleries in Stillwater, Minn.

Prior to ASAH, she was vice president then president and CEO of the family business, Dawson Hail Insurance Co. She and her husband, Norm, make their home in Fargo.

View the Deb Dawson video.


A native of Crookston, Minn., Beth (Thompson) Haseltine is the manager of clinical development-bereavement at Hospice of the Red River Valley. The bereavement team provides support to families after the death of a loved one. She was a member of the first class at MSUM in 1979 to graduate with a bachelor of social work degree. She also has a master’s degree in education in counseling from NDSU.

For 22 years prior, Haseltine was victim services coordinator and then executive director of the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. She was instrumental in establishing the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center.  She received MSUM’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1991, and the Commissioner’s Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration, on Children, Youth and Families for her significant contribution to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

She and her husband, Rob, live in Fargo.

View the Beth Haseltine video.


Alice Richter grew up near Austin, Minn., and is a 1975 accounting graduate. She is a retired partner of KPMG, a global and financial accounting services firm. During her 26-year career she was selected for a three-year assignment in Germany; oversaw the company’s recruiting program; served on the KPMG Foundation board of trustees; and has mentored aspiring business professionals through various organizations, including MSUM graduates working in the Twin Cities.

She received MSUM’s first School of Business Outstanding Alumni Award in 1992, and delivered the university’s December 2000 commencement address.  Richter serves on four corporate boards, and holds membership to several associations, including the National Association of Corporate Directors—recently receiving Board Leadership Fellow status.

She lives in Prior Lake, Minn.

View the Alice Richter video.


George Vinson, a Ruthton, Minn., native, joined the Fargo Police Department in 2004, and in 2007 was selected to be a canine handler with his partner Earl, a Belgian Malinois. During his tenure, Vinson has been a crime scene investigator, police-training officer and narcotics detective. He was promoted to sergeant last year.  He is a 2003 criminal justice and sociology graduate.

Vinson and Earl have earned three dozen medals and four “Case of the Quarter” in the U.S. Police K-9 Association (USPCA), a nonprofit organization devoted to training police dogs. They received the top honor from USPCA in 2010, “National Case of the Year,” for their impressive performance in real casework. They also placed 10th nationally at the USPCA National Drug Detection competition in 2010.

He and his wife, Danielle, live in Moorhead.

View the George Vinson video.



A graduate of Wayzata High School, Kathleen “Kit” Mitchell played Dragon basketball for two years and earned a biology degree in 2006. She taught science in Tanzania through the U.S. Peace Corps, and after her two-year service, she accepted a yearlong science teaching position with an NGO serving underprivileged Masai students. This past summer, Mitchell was a field researcher at the Southern Sierra Research Station in Weldon, Calif., where she studied the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, an endangered songbird.

She has been a girl’s basketball coach, chemistry teacher, environment and energy policy coordinator and freelance writer/editor. In 2011, Mitchell and her husband, Jacob Gallagher, hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, traveling through California, Oregon and Washington and averaging 20 miles daily during the five-month trip.

They make their home in Mountain View, Calif.

View the Kit Mitchell video.


Shelda Warren grew up in Ada, Minn., and graduated from Borup High School. She earned degrees in mathematics and physical education at Moorhead State Teachers College (MSTC) in 1948 and taught at Ada and Waubon High Schools. In 1955, she was one of three members of the first class of MSTC students to earn a master of science degree in education.  She later earned an educational specialist degree from Vanderbilt University.

Warren joined MSTC’s Campus School in 1955 and was hired full time in the university’s mathematics department in 1968. After a 38-year teaching career, she retired in 1993.

Warren volunteers with Moorhead Adult Education, area nursing homes and Churches United for the Homeless. She lives in Moorhead.

View the Shelda Warren video.