The Pat Lamb and Ele Hanson Charitable Fund was established with a gift from the estates of Pat Lamb (1934-2018) and Ele Hansen (1921-2013) in 2018. Earnings from this permanent endowment fund will provide annual grants to nine local nonprofit organizations: FiftyNorth, WINGS, St. Dominic’s School, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Community Action Center of Northfield, Northfield Public Library, Independent School District 659, and Northfield Area YMCA. Since 2016, the fund has distributed $1,565,158.
“Northfield Shares is honored to receive Pat Lamb’s and Ele Hansen’s generous gift on behalf of the Northfield community,” said Mike Krance, executive director of Northfield Shares. “Their work throughout their careers and during retirement touched countless lives in education and the field of women’s athletics, and their generosity will continue to touch countless lives on an even larger scale. We are humbled by the trust they placed in us for carrying out their philanthropic legacy.”
“I had the privilege of working with Pat and Ele for years—crafting their philanthropic legacy,” added Greg Carlson of Carlson Capital Management. “What motivated them was offering a “hand up” to those whom they knew had potential, but just needed a little extra help. This is how they treated the students they taught, and is what inspired their approach to charitable giving.”
Building a Legacy of Impact at Carleton
Pat Lamb and Ele Hansen were lifelong advocates of equal rights and opportunities for girls and women. They were pioneering champions for women’s physical education and influential leaders in developing increased sport opportunities for women, not only at Carleton, but also at the state, regional and national levels.
Hired by Carleton President Larry Gould in 1952, Hanson chaired the college’s Women’s Physical Education Department, taught PE classes, and coached women’s softball and cross country for 34 years, until her retirement in 1986. She was responsible for appointing Carleton’s first women’s athletic director (Lamb) in 1970.
According to Carleton officials, Cowling Recreation Center (aka “The Women’s Gym”), was built in 1965 through Hansen’s strong internal lobbying efforts. It was said to have been the center of an emerging feminist movement on campus, and it provided much-needed indoor space for an ever-expanding program of coed and women’s PE classes and intramurals
From running a nationally recognized intramural program to developing a coaching/teaching workshop that attracted men and women from throughout the region, Hansen was considered a guiding force in women’s athletics at Carleton and across the country.
In addition, former Carleton athletic director Leon Lunder said Hansen was “a strong voice in the Title IX debate and provided an avenue at Carleton to blaze the trail for women’s varsity opportunity.” Her advocacy generated local, regional and national support for the creation and ultimate acceptance of Title IX in 1972.
Lamb embarked on her 32-year at Carleton College in 1962, starting as a physical education instructor. Eight years later, she became Carleton’s first athletic director for women, a position she held until 1985. During her tenure as women’s athletic director, she supervised the development of 12 varsity athletic programs, coaching many of them herself.
Lamb’s enthusiasm, presence, and love of sport and teaching were infectious and made lasting impressions on her student-athletes regardless of when they attended the college. Heidi Jaynes, Carleton’s women’s volleyball coach from 1999-2018, current associate athletic director, and senior woman administrator, is a prime example of that lasting impact.
“Pat was a huge mentor to me as a coach and administrator, even though I came to Carleton after her retirement,” said Jaynes after Lamb’s passing in January 2018. “I loved hearing her tell the stories of how she and Ele started women’s varsity and club sports here at Carleton, and Pat made sure we passed on that history to our current athletes.”
Jaynes added that Lamb also loved hearing how current women student-athletes were doing at Carleton, both on and off the court. “Even though she retired over 20 years ago, she still influenced our current female student-athletes and coaches by stopping by practices, cheering us on in the bleachers at games, and taking our female senior athlete award-winners out to lunch every year so that she could get to know them and hear about their experience at Carleton.”
After retiring in 1994, Lamb continued to support women’s athletics in countless ways including the Pat Lamb Award, which is given annually to an outstanding Carleton senior female athlete and scholar. In addition, with several friends she established the Pat Lamb Endowed Tennis Fund to support the promotion, enjoyment, teaching and facilitation of tennis for the benefit of students and the Carleton Community. Now with the $1 million gift to the fund, she will continue supporting those efforts at Carleton in perpetuity.
“It was always Pat’s dream to continue to build on the opportunities and current successes of all our tennis programs and classes here at Carleton,” said Jaynes. “With her unbelievably generous donation, we hope we can expand on her dream in the future and continue to remember and honor Pat for her commitment to teaching and her passion to empower our students to grow.”
Through Lamb’s and Hansen’s roles as educators and coaches, Carleton was ahead of its time in providing a wide range of physical education instruction, classes and resources for women. Over decades, Lamb and Hansen served as role models and mentors for hundreds of Carleton women, empowering them to pursue their goals by providing abundant opportunities in athletics and outdoor experiences.
Making an Impact Out of the Spotlight
According to Lynne Pederson, executive director of FiftyNorth, Lamb and Hansen were giving and caring people who got things done. Their $150,000 gift to FiftyNorth’s restricted endowment will support the organization for many years to come.
“Pat and Ele were very generous to people and organizations that they cared about greatly,” said Pederson. “However, what they accomplished in the community, as well as the projects and people they supported, were all done in a very quiet manner. They never sought out recognition but rather shied from it.”
Pederson considered Lamb her friend and said she was fun, smart and always interested in other people. She adds that Lamb was very astute about knowing what was needed and worked to get it accomplished—but she could do this in a very smart way.
“Pat networked and brought people together,” said Pederson. “If she and Ele recognized their importance to the community, they never talked about it. They focused only the importance and significance of what they believed in.”