Distinguished Alumna Award

Established in 2009, the St. Teresa’s Academy Distinguished Alumna Award formally recognizes an alumna who has positively and substantially influenced her profession(s), her community(s) or issues affecting society at large. For more information, contact Paula Holmquist, alumnae director, at 816.501.0022 or pholmquist@stteresasacademy.org.

Click here for the Distinguished Alumna Award Nomination Form.

Aileen Altman Richmond, Class of 1962
2019 Recipient

As a young woman with a growing family in the small town of Albany, Missouri, Aileen Altman Richmond and her husband, John, learned of their youngest son's devastating prognosis after treatment of his brain tumor. Their third son, Jay, was left paralyzed, unable to see or speak. His doctors estimated a life expectancy of only a few weeks.

Without any formal health care education, Aileen and her family took their baby home, not only to manage his feeding tubes, oxygen, and numerous medications, but also a myriad of other medical needs. She surrounded him with love, comforted him, and provided him with the best care possible. 

Despite Jay’s extremely poor prognosis, which continues to this day, Aileen immersed herself in his care and organized an interdisciplinary team of care providers to ensure that Jay received the most comprehensive, integrated care possible. She served as a pioneer in championing this model of care as multidisciplinary health care teams were not universally accepted as central to positive patient outcomes until the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Thirty-five years after Aileen’s terminally ill baby was sent home, Jay is alive but remains totally dependent, requiring one-on-one care. His survival is and always will remain a day-to-day struggle. Through prayer, strength, faith, and confidence in the plan that God had for her, Aileen has humbly and compassionately embraced a life that she could not have even imagined as a teen girl while at STA or as a young high school educator.

Through Aileen’s advocacy and love for Jay, she has become a champion for all disabled people in Albany and beyond. She has served on the Gentry County Rolling Hills Board of Directors, where she has helped develop processes and policies to ensure that individuals with intellectual disabilities who live in group homes are treated with dignity and respect, and that the quality of care that they receive ensures their safety and quality of life.

Aileen’s presence in her community, her unconditional love for her son, her role modeling of professional communication and coordination with members of the health care community, and her advocacy for the disabled have transformed this small community and the lives of many of the volunteers who help care for Jay. 

Previous Winners:

Dana Tippin Cutler
Class of 1982
Susie Haake
Class of 1967
Peggy Gramlich Baker
Class of 1957
Teresa Orpin Hamilton
Class of 1978
Marylyn Geraghty DeFeo
Class of 1954
Kelly Crawford Friendly
Class of 1988
Martha Leahy Staker
Class of 1962
Rosemary O’Leary
Class of 1973
Patrice (Jo Ann) Coolick, CSJ
Class of 1958
Martha Meagher Downey
Class of 1961