Mount Vernon Inducts New Alumni Hall of Fame Members


Anna Moore

2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame recipients

Brady Erickson

Mount Vernon Alumni Association inducted an amazing group of Mustangs into the Hall of Fame during an assembly on Oct. 8. This was part of the Homecoming festivities during an exciting week in the Mount Vernon district. During the 2020 school year, there wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year, both 2020 and 2021 winners were inducted into the Hall of Fame together.

John Rife led the Hall of Fame Ceremony in the Performing Arts Center. John Rife who hosted the 14th annual Hall of Fame Ceremony said, “It is a terrific honor to be inducted into the hall of fame.” 

This was the first time that the PAC was used for this celebration so it was a special morning for all of the attendees. The high school students attended the ceremony and enjoyed hearing about the alumni that came before them and have achieved so much. “Seeing the success of the older generations of Mustangs was really fun to see,” Ben Merlak, a junior at Mount Vernon High School, said. “It made me inspired to go out in the world and make a change.” 

These impressive Hall of Fame winners come from five categories of honor. They are selected because of achievement, fine arts, athletics, service, and community impact. The 10 recipients from 2020 and 2021 have done amazing things in our community and in the world. Mount Vernon is lucky to have them as alumni and now as MV Hall of Fame members.



    Achievement – Phoebe Ball 1991

    Fine Arts –  Jefferson White 2008

    Athletic – Shelby Kintzel 2009

    Service – Crystal Cardon Eskelsen 1993

    Community Impact – Gwen Stewart Drahos 1970


    Achievement – Peter Kollman 1962 (d)

     Fine Arts –  Braden Pospisil Rood 1993

     Athletic – Steve Andrew 1968 (d)

     Service – Scot Christiansen 1978

     Community Impact -Sonia Essex Redmond 1982


Achievement Hall of Fame recipient Phoebe Ball from the class of 1991 

is an attorney who has spent her professional career working on issues relating to disability law. She is currently on the staff of the U.S. Education and Labor Committee. Much of her work for the Committee is focused on policies that ensure access to high-quality education for disabled students and competitive integrated employment for disabled adults. 

Her nominator, Karen Thornton, says 

“It is with great respect and awe that I nominate Phoebe… she has spent her entire life overcoming spinal bifida and the host of issues resulting from her disability. Her high school career was plagued with doctors, surgeries, infections, and struggling with braces to walk…. Phoebe has not allowed her wheelchair to limit her achievements. Through her own experiences and struggles, she has become an effective advocate for people facing a variety of disabilities. Her intelligence, wit and determination have been successful at promoting systemic changes that increase opportunities for economic self-improvement, expanded civic participation and capacity for self-advocacy…. Over great odds and by her own sheer grit she has been successful. Phoebe is an inspiration to me. Her achievements are magnified by what she had to overcome in her journey.”


Fine Arts Hall of Fame recipient Braden Pospisil Rood from the class of 1993 

has become a popular mainstay on Mount Vernon stages and in the community with her drama and musical talents.

The list of productions she has been a part of are pages long, but include roles from acting and dancing to set design, producer, and director — both in New York and in Mount Vernon. She is a current member of the Balderdash Ditty band, Leah Woosley and the Mother Chuckers, the MV Uke Squad and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Theatre Board. Braden was named Mount Vernon CDG Volunteer of the Year in 2017.

You can view a video about Braden that was created by the Mount Vernon High School journalism class in 2019 titled ‘Braden JP Rood: A Legacy of Performance and Service”’ at 


Service Hall of Fame recipient Dr. Scot Christiansen from the class of 1978 

is a family practice physician at the Edgewood Satellite Clinic for the Regional Family Health in Manchester, Iowa. In addition, he is Medical Director for the Oelwein Healthcare Center, the Grandview Healthcare Center, the Regional Medical Center Inpatient care unit, and the RMC Wound clinic.  He has served as assistant director of the Ed-Co fall play for 13 years, sharing his talent and passion for quality dramatic productions. Scot was named a Presidential Scholar in high school — the only one Mount Vernon has ever had. Academically Scot hit many milestones, including being selected as one of only 141 students nationwide for this award – one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. He was also a National Merit Finalist, representing the top one percent of seniors in the U.S. Scot was class valedictorian and earned the Iowa Bar Citizenship Award. Most recently Scot has been faced with handling Covid-19 patients. 


Service Hall of Fame recipient Crystal Cardon Eskelsen from the class of 1992 

is Mount Vernon high school’s tennis coach, as well as creator of the Monsters Running Club for K-8 students. 

Nominator Sara Covington says “Most of you have been touched by Crystal’s kindness. Whether it’s having your child go through her running club, reading her positive articles in the sports section of the Sun, or staying motivated from participating in one of her winter challenges, you have more than likely been impacted by Crystal’s service. People like Crystal make Mount Vernon the precious jewel that it is.”


Community Impact Hall of Fame recipient Sonia Essex Redmond from the class of 1982 

has worked at Mount Vernon Bank & Trust Company for 33 years, where she is currently an Assistant Vice President. Sonia has organized or assisted with many bank-sponsored community events, and has been a prolific community service volunteer over her lifetime. Sonia received Mount Vernon’s 2016 Main Street Iowa’s Leadership, the State of Iowa Volunteer of the Year Award, and she has been recognized as the local CDG volunteer of the month twice.


Community Impact Hall of Fame recipient Gwen Stewart Drahos from the class of 1970 

A Lisbon resident and 40-year business-owner of Gwen’s Restaurant, Gwen is well known in the Mount Vernon-Lisbon community.

As successful owner of the restaurant, Gwen says “ I have had many Mount Vernon alums work for me. They start at 14 years of age and learn how to work hard. They learn responsibility and how to work with coworkers and customers. I have also been honored to have many Mount Vernon class reunions at the restaurant. The morning breakfast was a social center for many – including Mount Vernon teachers and principals. I had the Stompers band reunions (high school popular band) play at the restaurant several times throughout the years after high school. I have done many funeral dinners for families that I have had for customers. I’ve had three generations of a lot of families eat at the restaurant. And I’ve had the children of former employees work for us.”


Athletic Hall of Fame recipient Shelby Kintzel from the class of 2009 

Shelby was part of Coach Willem’s volleyball team that earned Class 3A State Runner-Up in both 2007 and 2008. Shelby was named Team Captain both of those years, and was voted Team MVP by teammates in her soph, junior and senior years.

In high school, Shelby was a multi-sport athlete and scholar, a letter-winner in volleyball, basketball and track. As a senior she was named 3A Volleyball Player of the Year, was named to the both Des Moines Register Elite Team (all classes) and 3A First Team, and earned a spot on the  Prep Volleyball Top 250 (National) listing. In 2016 she was inducted into the Iowa Girl’s High School Athletic Union Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Shelby went on to play volleyball for the University of Northern Iowa and completed her time as sixth in all-time in sets played at UNI and Tenth all-time leader in block solos and total blocks. Shelby was a team member at four NCAA tournament appearances, three of which went into the second round. She was team captain in 2013.

Also a scholar, Shelby graduated with a 4.0 GPA, Summa Cum Laude, and was awarded UNI’s Purple and Old Gold Award in both Volleyball and Elementary Education.

Shelby went on to play professional volleyball in Spain for one year. She spent 5 years teaching and coaching volleyball at high school level and earned a Masters degree in Education. She moved to Denver where she was a kindergarten teacher and pre-kindergarten teacher, and currently works for Procare Software, an educational software company.


Fine Arts Hall of Fame recipient Jefferson ‘Jeff’ White from the class of 2008 

Every now and then we have a Hall of Fame member that has reached such public fame, that you can only reach them through an agent or the ‘right person’. And Jeff is one of these. Now a popular actor who lives in New York, City, you can see Jeff in one many television series including The Americans, Manhattan, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, How to Get Away with Murder, Blue Bloods, House of Cards, Blindspot and The Alienist: Angel of Darkness. and Yellowstone where he is not only a regular but is listed in the opening credits and has become a fan favorite. The series began its 4th season on the Paramount network. While Jeff will not be able to attend, his mother Amy White will represent him. It may also be possible to stream live with Jeff from his filming location.

You can view a video about Jeff that was created by the Mount Vernon High School journalism class in 2019 titled ‘From High School to Hollywood’ at


Achievement Hall of Fame recipient Peter Kollman from the class of 1962 

had an astounding career in the science field. From the standpoint of the fashionable “scientific statistics,” his contribution was prodigious: over his 31-year career he was an author on more than 400 journal articles (more than one per month, on average), and more than 50 reviews and chapters, and he was the 11th most-cited chemist between 1981 and 1997. A Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF, his contributions to the application of quantum and molecular mechanics calculations to address important chemical and biological problems will live on in the students he trained and the AMBER suite of (computer) programs that he produced. Peter will be represented by his family.


Athletic Hall of Fame recipient Steve Andrew from the class of 1968 

is a legend in many circles. Steve was not only known for his athletic achievements, but for his outstanding character.  Steve was a’ four-sport athlete who received 15 varsity letters for his achievements (in high school). His softball career was exceptional, both as a player and later as a coach. He was the recipient of numerous accolades.  He was considered the heart and soul of the Mount Vernon Mustangs. He was a respected and loved team leader who would sweat his guts out at every event. He was every coach’s dream player. Steve’s greatest success as a ball player surpassed high school. He became a highly recruited and amazing softball player. Andrew played in six national tournaments, six world tournaments and three Olympic Festivals. A two-time Major league batting champ, he was one of the best third basemen in the country, winning All-World selection twice and All-American honors once. Steve will be represented by his family.