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The Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB
Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award

The Guinan Award is the highest alumni honor presented by the University of St. Thomas. Named for Fr. Vincent Joseph Guinan, CSB, the founding president of the University, the award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has remained engaged with UST after graduation and has made outstanding contributions to their alma mater and to society through professional and personal excellence and community involvement.


Shelley Grahmann '02

The University of St. Thomas has bestowed its highest alumni honor, the Rev. Vincent J. Guinan Distinguished Alumna of the Year award, on Sasol Chemicals Senior VP for Strategy, Sustainability & Human Capital Shelley Grahmann ’02. Annually, the prestigious Guinan Award recognizes one alumnus or alumna for their engagement with UST and the way they embody the University’s core values of goodness, discipline, knowledge, and community. Grahmann, a professional and personal superstar, was a wonderful choice.

“We are so happy the Alumni Board of Directors selected Shelley as this year’s recipient!” Director of Alumni Relations Amy Youngblood said. “She’s a devoted alumna who has consistently served and supported her alma mater since her graduation. From the inception of the crowd-favorite alumni association fundraiser—Two Saints and a Taco Tasting—to her time of service on the UST Board of Directors, she is very generous with her time, talent and treasure. She’s a resource, friend, donor, and engager on top of her many talents in her professional life. We are proud of Shelley and so happy she is being recognized!”

Grahmann’s strong connection to her alma mater comes naturally.

“I came from a modest background with few professional models,” she explained. “UST was the first to connect me to a global audience, study abroad opportunities, and international students on campus. All of this is being re-invigorated today. It’s inclusive and accessible. I believe in what UST has to offer to the community, students and employers, and I want to see that reach be sustained and expanded.”

Leading Professionally and Personally

In addition to her demanding, high-level professional role at the global Sasol Chemicals, the dynamic, trusted leader, who earned her B.A. in Political Science at St. Thomas (summa cum laude) and her Juris Doctorate at the UH Law Center (cum laude), donates from her personal time serving as a Board Officer on UST’s Board of Directors.

“It has always been important for me to support the University and its mission,” Grahmann said. “Early in my career, I became a donor to UST. Then, as my career settled down and I was able to create more time and capacity, I met with Meredith Stasny McCrary ’03 from UST’s Advancement Office to learn about ways to engage more of my time and talent here.”

Joining the Board

Grahmann joined the Board in 2017 and has accelerated and increased her involvement since then. Motivated by a clear understanding of what differentiates UST, the lifelong Houstonian has taken an active and vital role in planning for the University’s Greater Things strategic vision for the future. 

From her seat on the Board, Grahmann was instrumental in the transformation to improve the University’s financial position, enhance its core curriculum, and lay the foundation for the University’s new Greater Things strategic vision and future capital campaign. Grahmann was the first alumni major gift to the campaign for new student housing. These transformation efforts, together with contributions across the UST community, were recognized nationally, with the Wall Street Journal ranking UST as the No. 4 university in Texas in 2023.

Grahmann added, “To other Celts I would say there is no better time to engage or re-engage with UST than today. And please recognize that no contribution of time, talent or treasure is too small. You’re part of a unique community with a strong mission-driven identity. Yet UST is a place that reflects the real world with a world of cultures and people working together. Moreover, St. Thomas does it better than many other places of learning.”

A Heart for Community

Grahmann is proof that when you have a heart for community, that heart keeps expanding. After UST, her top two service causes are Discover U (an organization that supports experiential learning), and Houston Food Bank.

Previous Award Recipients

2023 - Maria Quintero '81

2022- Cynthia Colbert Riley, MLA '95
2021- Professor Charles Krohn '58

2020 - Daniel Garcia '01, MBA '09

2019 - Anthony Pizzitola '73, MBA '82 

2018 - Drew Wilson '02

2017 - Kelli Kickerillo '03

2016 - Cecilia Abbott '87 '93 '94

2015 - Sgt. Charles B. Kitowski III '98 (posthumously)

2014 - Gabriel Canales '99

2013 - Ana Lisa Gonzalez '97

2012 - Frances Escriva '78 '00

2011 - Burney Hebinck '55

2010 - Vince D'Amico '52

2009 - Carole Hanna McCann '76

2008 - Sally Landram '54

2007 - Laurence Payne '7

2006 - Dr. Rebecca LeBlanc '70

2006 - Dr. Robert LeBlanc '69

2005 - Thomas Horan '66

2004 - Fr. Joseph Courtney '51

2003 - V. Gregory Hartford '68

2003 - Cheri York Hartford '69

2002 - Dr. Herbert Edmundson '69

2001 - Mary Dooley '58

2001 - Thomas Dooley '59

2000 - Wilma Goetz '51

1999 - Bishop James Tamayo '71 '75

1998 - Barbara Hurwitz '88

1997 - Thomas Bender '52

1997 - Teana Sechelski '52

1996 - Dorothy Wilbeck '60

1995 - Patricia Doyle '62

1994 - Sister Charlene Wedelich '55

1992 - Thomas Brophy '57

1991 - Bishop John Edward McCarthy '56

1990 - Dr. Gilberto Aguirre '68

1989 - Joseph W Colvin '59

1989 - Harriet Brueggemann Colvin '60

1988 - Bishop Ricardo Ramirez '59

1987 - Hon. Criss Cole '52

1987 - Major Thomas Guerinot '69

1987 - Betty Fischer '52

1987 - Charles Fischer '52 '87

1986 - Sister Theresa Macy '56

1974 - Henry Cushing Grover '52

1973 - Laurence Wayne '68

1972 - Christopher Fulton McKee '57

1971 - Mary Alice Parsons '71

1970 - Hon. Criss Cole '52

1968 - Rose Mary Rita Badami '54

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