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2014 Recipients



High school classmates who watched Aldean Lee lead by example as a three-sport standout are not surprised she became one of the top officials in the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Aldean retired as the Assistant Director for Management Support in the marshal’s service and was one of nine division heads under the agency’s deputy director. She was responsible for managing logistics and long-term planning for the multi-million dollar operation.

Aldean began her stint with the marshal’s service in Los Angeles after graduating from North Dakota State University in 1983 with a degree in psychology and sociology. She worked her way up to Supervisory Deputy, to Assistant Chief Deputy, and in 2006 to Chief Deputy of the largest district in the country.

Ronda Nesemeier, Aldean’s classmate and basketball teammate, says others admired her leadership on and off the court.
“I am not surprised that her career took the direction it did,” Nesemeier says. “I knew at a very young age that she would reach great heights and accomplish much.”

Aldean’s superiors in the marshal’s service cite her extensive experience managing a large district, her proven ability to lead and manage people, and her training and policy strategies that have been adopted nation-wide. She holds top secret security clearance.

The 1979 South graduate was a four-year varsity regular on the basketball team. She was a standout softball player and javelin thrower. She went on to play both college softball and basketball.

“Aldean had the exceptional ability at a young age to analyze a game situation and find a solution that would allow her and the team to be more successful,” says Collette Folstad, her high school basketball coach. “She would take the initiative to apply her ideas. Her creativity served her well. Her poised leadership earned her the respect of her teammates.”



Dr. Michael Levitt is part of a team that includes the top brain surgeons and researchers in the United States.

The 1998 South graduate recently wrapped up a five-year stint as a resident neurosurgeon at the University of Washington and joined the prestigious Barrows Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where he is pursuing advanced fellowship training in endovascular neurosurgery.

He was previously a chief resident in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Seattle university, which accepts three residents a year from a pool of 300 applicants. He is the only North Dakota native ever accepted into the program.
Dr. Richard Rapport, clinical professor for the department, calls Michael one of the top residents he’s observed in his 40 years at the school.

“Mike has already achieved a lot in his short life, and I expect him to become a national leader in the field,” Rapport says.
Rapport says Michael is “already very technically proficient” in the operating room and is the kind of doctor who “listens, empathizes and cares” for his patients.

Michael was an academic leader in high school and one of the finest saxophone players in the state. He earned numerous awards in state and regional jazz band competitions and composed original music for concert and jazz bands.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern in 2002 and graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in 2007.

“He is a careful surgeon who always puts his patients first, and is a fierce advocate for the underserved and uninsured patients,” says Dr. Basavaraj Ghodke, associate professor in neuroradiology and neurological surgery at Washington. “He is also an excellent scientific writer and a critical thinker, and has a creative mind that seizes on opportunity to develop new and better ways to treat patients.”



Longtime South administrator and activities director Ed Lockwood worked tirelessly to improve school programs, whether it was promoting professional development, raising money for facilities, leading on a national level or presiding over numerous winning programs.

A 1965 graduate of Bowbells High School and 1970 grad of Minot State, Ed coached high school sports at Berthold and Mohall before moving into athletic administration at Mohall in 1978. He was an administrator at Underwood and Williston before coming to South in 1991.

Peers lauded Ed for his work ethic, character, and integrity. While at South, he spearheaded the sanctioning of five new sports, supported the creation of numerous clubs, managed the building and remodeling of numerous facilities, and fostered partnerships with citywide youth agencies. He helped create the South Hall of Fame.

As chairman of the F-M Area Metro Tournament Committee, he managed countless local, state and regional tournaments.
Ed earned numerous awards throughout his career. The North Dakota Coaches Association presented him with the Award of Merit in 1996 and in 2012 inducted him into the group’s Hall of Fame. The National High School Athletic Coaches Association named him national Athletic Director of the Year in 2001. In 2013 he received the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

“Ed’s coaching and mentoring skills have been widely recognized at many levels,” says Richard Warner, the principal who hired him. “As a key person in South’s administrative team, I appreciated Ed’s insights and counsel on many issues and challenges we faced during the course of a school year.”

Ed was critical thinker and problem solver who treated all with whom he worked with respect and understanding, Warner says.

“Ed Lockwood’s reign at Fargo South as the school’s activities director was most impressive,” South principal Todd Bertsch adds.



Matthew Williams is a professional bass trombonist who has made numerous recordings and performed with many of the top artists in the music industry.

Matthew has been employed full-time with the Acapulco Philharmonic and la Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes orchestras in Mexico, where he starred as a soloist and played alongside renown artists like Placido Domingo and Enrique Carreras. He also teaches trombone, tuba and brass ensembles at the state music conservatory.

Judith Zazueta Aldapa, director of education and training at the Sinaloa Institute of Culture, says Matthew’s traits include ample knowledge, a profound love of music, devotion to his instrument, sensibility and compassion.

“During the time that I have known him, I have witnessed his professionalism which is excellent as a trombone musician, but extraordinary as a teacher,” Aldapa says.

Gordon Campbell, director and founder of The Orquestra la Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes, calls Matthew a “real and sensitive artist” who doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the orchestra.

“He instinctively seems to know to add just the right amount of sound and color and is always in tune,” Campbell says. “He is also responsible for developing the only young trombonists in the area.”

A 1992 South graduate, Matthew was selected to the all-state orchestra three times and was a two-time finalist for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony young artist competition. He earned his undergraduate degree in music from St. Olaf College. He was awarded a masters degree in trombone performance from Yale University, where he studied under legendary trombone teacher John Swallow.

“I remember him practicing diligently to learn music for any performance and he was the most dedicated musician in the band program during the era,” says Edward Huttlin, Matthew’s high school band director. “Although quiet and unassuming, he was a strong leader by virtue of his example.”



From the danger zones in Bosnia and Iraq to the challenges of the business sector, Ben Wright has been all about missions accomplished.

Ben began an exceptional military career after graduating from West Point in 1996. He attended U.S. Army flight school and served nearly eight years as a helicopter pilot and aviation officer. He led several large organizations and served in two combat zones.

Ben earned several medals and badges, including the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal (on two occasions), Army Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

While in Bosnia, Ben led a helicopter platoon of 30 people and four helicopters that was responsible for keeping peace along the Bosnia-Serbia border during the allied bombing campaign known as Operation Joint Forge. Over 300 successful missions were conducted less than 25 miles from the bombing in Belgrade.

While in Iraq, he was part of a small team deployed to Kuwait in October 2002 to prepare for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He led the first Army Aviation Support unit into Iraq, a group called “The Tip of the Spear.”

Brent Monroe, one of Ben’s supervisors in the military, says he stepped into a technically demanding leadership role at a young age.

“He learned his new trade quickly and was able to garner the trust and respect of his subordinates, peers and senior officers in record time,” Monroe says.

After leaving the military, Ben earned his MBA at the University of Minnesota. He served as vice president of marketing and sales for Fargo-based Appareo Systems and is currently employed in a key business management role at 3M Company in St. Paul.

The 1992 South graduate was a “student athlete as well as a student leader in his class,” says Karen Montgomery, his counselor at South. “This leadership carried over beyond high school.”