Honors Gala

A BSU Homecoming tradition, the Honors Gala is an annual celebration of Bemidji State University's Outstanding Alumni Award recipients, President's Society donors and Legacy Society members.

The 2023 event took place on Friday, Sept. 29, in the Sanford Center's ballroom.

Four distinguished BSU alumni were recognized for their professional and personal accomplishments. Marc Bloomquist ‘96, Corby Koehler ‘97 and John Thompson ‘98 all received the Outstanding Alumni Award, while Denae (Fisher) Alamano ‘07 received the Young Alumni Award.

John L. Hoffman, the president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, delivers a speech during the Honors Gala on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at the Sanford Center. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)

Read the recap

2023 honorees

Denae Alamano square
Young Alumni Award

Denae (Fisher) Alamano '07

Denae Alamano is the executive director for the United Way of Bemidji Area and has made a significant difference in the greater Bemidji community throughout her career, volunteerism and personal life. Alamano has helped the United Way triple its budget and realize drastic growth with its reach and effectiveness since starting there in 2016. She is also the board president of the United Ways of Minnesota. Additionally, she created Women United, which honors local women making substantial community impact and enacts change through community projects. Additionally, Alamano invests in many ways across the community, including serving on the board of directors for Beltrami Area Services Collaborative, bringing Shield 616 to the region, taking on many volunteer roles at the Bemidji Evangelical Covenant Church and being a foster parent.

Marc Bloomquist square
Outstanding Alumni Award

Marc Bloomquist '96

Marc Bloomquist carved out a decades-long career with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, where he served on a number of committees, held offenders accountable for their actions while offering opportunities for change to make the community safer and advocated fiercely for staff. He was a tireless supporter for the less fortunate in his community, and he developed a program called Kingdom Builders that distributed donated funds to in-need community members without the hassle or delays of the typical red tape. He was also active in church and youth sports volunteerism. (Marc died in December 2021 and will be honored posthumously.)

Corby Koehler square
Outstanding Alumni Award

Corby Koehler '97

Lieutenant colonel Corby Koehler has been serving his country since enlisting in the Minnesota Army National Guard in 1991 while still in high school. He has over 30 years of service and currently works as the commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Holman Airfield in St. Paul. Koehler has embarked on three overseas deployments and numerous domestic deployments, earning significant military awards such as the Bronze Star Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, four Army Reserve Components Achievement Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, the Minnesota Medal for Merit and, most recently, the Legion of Merit. He also spearheaded significant training reform for aviation intelligence personnel in the U.S. Army.

John Thompson square
Outstanding Alumni Award

John Thompson '98

John Thompson has been a leader in many different avenues. He has worked at Federated Insurance for 25 years, climbing the ladder from an associate programmer to the first vice president, director of accounting. He was named to Federated’s leadership team in 2011 and has served in various leadership roles at Federated and several other local organizations. He is a two-time winner of the Distinguished Graduate Award, which is issued by the Insurance Institute of America for attaining the highest grade in the nation for his respective designations. He also contributes to Federated's fundraising for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and its community development efforts, is a past president of the Owatonna Early Edition Rotary Club, and has served on the Bemidji State College of Business, Technology and Communication advisory board.

The Honors Gala is sponsored by

First National Bank Bemidji logo
Lueken Foundation Logo
Sanford Health 2C