Internationally Renowned Teacher Lillie Pang Receives Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award
With a self-designed major at Seton Hill focused on education, psychology and religion, Lillie Pang felt prepared for leadership and stepping into diverse settings as a teacher in classrooms across the United States and abroad. She later earned a master’s degree from Seattle University. “Education provided a pathway out of poverty for me. Because of that, I have dedicated 43 years of my life to teaching,” she notes.
Growing up in inner city Washington, D.C., she attended St. Martin de Porres, a Black Catholic church. She chose Black Catholics as her senior thesis topic and credits Sister Susan Jenny, her advisor, with approving the topic and providing excellent feedback. Lillie started teaching at the Oneida Nation reservation in Wisconsin and moved on to parochial schools in five states and the International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Japan. She joined Minneapolis Public Schools in 1999 and served as principal in five elementary schools, retiring from Hiawatha Community School in 2020. Her Christian values led her to become an apostolic volunteer with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in Wisconsin, teach with the Irish Sisters of Mercy in California, lead the religion department at Madonna High School in Chicago, and volunteer as a trainer for the SEED Project (Seeking Education Equity and Diversity).
"Education provided a pathway out of poverty for me. Because of that, I have dedicated 43 years of my life to teaching."
During the 1980s AIDS epidemic, Lillie’s pledge “to act critically, creatively and ethically” inspired her to convince Madonna High School administrators to educate students about AIDS through religion classes. Her work has earned the President’s Award for Outstanding Merit from St. Mary’s University and the Division Leadership Award from the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, which named her a finalist for the National Distinguished Principals Award.
Seton Hill University’s Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award, established in 1987, is one of the highest honors given to a graduate. Setonians have been named distinguished alumni for their leadership in education, business, science and technology, the arts, volunteerism and philanthropy.