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Sanctae Crucis Award Recipients 2013

Kara C. Dallman '87

At Holy Cross, Kara was a scholar (English major in the pre-med program) and an athlete (varsity volleyball).  And she had two other career-shaping experiences as an undergraduate: Kara received a Navy ROTC scholarship, and she was an RA, first in Beaven, then in Mulledy as head RA.  Her experience as a student leader in residence halls, she has said, prepared her to mentor, support, and positively influence hundreds of military spouses and families.  That, in turn, inspired her current work helping to unite military families through a unique nonprofit called United Through Reading.

After graduation, where she was the recipient of the Father Joseph T. O'Callahan, S.J. Award and honored as the Distinguished Military Graduate, Kara served as an officer and a reservist, distinguishing herself as a leader with every assignment-from undersea surveillance in Bermuda and Hawaii to teaching in San Diego to a posting at the NATO base in Naples, as well as Reserve assignments to Bahrain and Singapore until her retirement as a commander in 2008.

Kara and her husband Pete, juggling assignments, responsibilities, and their growing family knew firsthand the pressures that dual-career military families face when one parent is deployed.  Kara's work with spouses and families on base increased, and she became more involved with United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization giving deployed service members the opportunity to stay connected to their children through the simple but profound act of reading a storybook aloud on DVD.  After volunteering while in Yokosuka, Japan and co-chairing the organization's Washington, DC advisory committee, she became a part-time liaison to the USO in 2006.

With Kara's involvement, the number of USO host recording sites grew from 40 to 70, and participation resulted in more than 250,000 recordings.  Promoted the next year to director of the military program, her team increased the total number of families benefiting by 70 percent; ushered in the largest single donation; forged a cataloging partnership with novelist James Patterson; and created a model for conducting virtual book drives and employee giving campaigns with major donors.  Today, United Through Reading benefits more than 325,000 individuals annually.

Now, as the Senior Director for Operations, Kara leads a team working directly with the Department of Defense service branches, military medical facilities serving Wounded Warriors, and program partners like the USO.  She also directs a team of volunteers who provide training and support. 

For championing the best quality of life for United States military personnel and their families, for her distinguished service and leadership in building an innovative nonprofit organization, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Kara C. Dallman the Sanctae Crucis Award.