Radford University’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) has honored Gale Waldron and Karl Altau as the winners of the 2020 annual alumni awards, which honor the achievements and legacies of impactful Highlanders.
Waldron, Class of ‘69, was the winner of the 2020 Outstanding Posthumous Alumni Award while Altau, Class ‘83, was named the 2020 Outstanding Alumni.
“Each year the college’s advisory board solicits nominations for outstanding alumni who have had remarkable impacts upon their chosen fields and the communities they serve,” said Matthew J. Smith, dean of CHBS. “This year’s honorees, Gale Waldron ’69 and Karl Altau ’83, certainly uphold that proud tradition.”
Upon graduating from Radford with a degree in English, Waldron moved to Capitol Hill to work for former Representative Joseph Minish of New Jersey. Over the next decade, her career evolved into journalism, communications and marketing as she worked for numerous organizations in a variety of important positions.
Waldron’s greatest impact came from her passion for the arts. Shortly after moving to Leesburg, Va., in 1985, she began a career in the art world that spanned more than two decades. Her major in English and the writing skills gained from Radford, coupled with her entrepreneurship, were instrumental in founding and launching a highly successful arts publication, “Loudoun Art,” in 1998. The publication was dedicated to the visual, literary and performing arts. The magazine was purchased in 2001 by Amendment 1, Inc. Waldron continued as editor and launched a new publication, “Loudoun Magazine,” in October of that year.
Among other significant accomplishments, Waldron was the executive director of Gallery 222, eventually nurturing it into a successful fine arts gallery in Leesburg. Additionally, she wrote about people and the arts for several local and regional publications such as The Washington Post’s Loudoun edition and the Blue Ridge Leader.
In recognition of Waldron’s great contribution to the arts, the Loudoun County Arts Council named its annual award and scholarship, given to a deserving high school senior, the “Gale Waldron Excellency in Art Award.”
Altau graduated from Radford University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
While at Radford, he was active as a contributor to WVRU, both on-air and production. He was a writer for The Tartan, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, a member of the men’s tennis team, first president of the Tennis Club, a member of several intramural teams and the coach for a women’s intramural softball team.
Altau received a graduate diploma in social science/Nordic politics from Stockholm University in 1986, an M.A. in Uralic-Altaic Studies from Indiana University Bloomington in 1988 and concentrated on Russian and East European Studies at the University of Helsinki and via exchange at the University of Tartu from 1988-1995.
For the past 23 years, Altau has been the managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), a lobbying group that promotes a close relationship between the United States and the three Baltic States: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. His work was instrumental in supporting the Baltic countries’ acceptance into NATO in 2004. In his role, Altau has taken on complex international issues, including supporting the accession of the Baltic countries as NATO members and the efforts to designate August 23 as Black Ribbon Day to commemorate victims of Soviet and Nazi crimes
Altau has served on the boards of the Maryland-Estonia Exchange Council, which helps promote the Maryland Sister States Program and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He spent three years with the consular section of the Embassy of Estonia in Helsinki, Finland, from 1992-1999.
He has been published numerous times internationally. Additionally, Altau lectured to Fulbright students going to the Baltics for the Department of State in 2008 and has briefed the Department of State Foreign Service Institute students on two occasions.