Founder’s Dinner 2018

2018 alumni award recipients

The Damen Award, the Coffey Award, and the Felice Award are given at Founders’ Dinner each year to alumni who have shown exemplary leadership in the community, accomplishments in industry, and service to others--all in the spirit of magis and reflecting well on the Jesuit, Catholic education they received at Loyola University Chicago.

Coffey, Damen, and Felice award winners were recognized onstage by President Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD (far right) and Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer Margaret Faut Callahan, CRNA, PhD, FNAP, FAAN (far left).

Damen Award

Named for Loyola University Chicago’s primary founder, Arnold J. Damen, S.J., this award is granted to an alumnus(a) from each of Loyola’s schools and colleges. It recognizes the qualities of leadership in industry, leadership in the community, and service to others.

Mr. Ashruf Ghanimah (BS ’06)

College of Arts and Sciences

Ashruf “Osh” Ghanimah is a content creator, producer, and the founder and CEO of the not-for-profit Broadway For All. Read full bio

Broadway For All’s mission is to diversify the American stage and screen by training talented teens living in poverty alongside those from middle- and upper-income backgrounds and led by Broadway, TV, and film-industry professionals. Mr. Ghanimah recently spoke about this diversity movement at TEDxBroadway. As an actor, he has appeared on TV’s The Blacklist, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Happyish, Deadbeat, Sneaky Pete, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Law & Order: SVU and in the Katie Holmes’ film All We Had. He's also performed in theaters around the country and at Russia’s Moscow Art Theatre. A Teach For America alumnus, Mr. Ghanimah has degrees in theatre, English and secondary education from Loyola and an MFA in acting from Harvard, where he recently served as a guest lecturer. He also was awarded a Harvard University Presidential Public Service Fellowship from the Office of the President.

Mr. Eric Lugo (MS ’12, MBA ’12)

Quinlan School of Business

The executive vice chancellor for institutional advancement at City Colleges of Chicago, Eric B. Lugo is a 2018 fellow at Pahara NextGen and at Reality Empower. Read full bio

Mr. Lugo was selected for the 2015 Marshall Memorial Fellowship. A 2016 Inaugural Hispanics in Philanthropy NextGen fellow, he was also a member of the 2012 inaugural class of the Edgar Fellowship, developed by former Gov. Jim Edgar.

In 2015, Mr. Lugo launched Conciencia Ventures LLC to connect entrepreneurial and creative strategy to the social-impact sector. In addition, he held roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Instituto del Progreso Latino. A member of the Economic Club of Chicago, the Nuestro Futuro: Latino Heritage Endowment Steering Committee at the Chicago Community Trust, and the Chicago Council at the United Way of Metro Chicago, Mr. Lugo serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Learning Exchange.

Mr. Dominique Merritt (BA ’10)

School of Continuing and Professional Studies

A senior manager and people business partner at Sprout Social, Dominique Merritt has global responsibility for Sprout's recruitment and talent-management initiatives. Read full bio

Sprout Social is a social media management platform for business. Prior to working there, Mr. Merritt helped many of the Chicago tech community’s start-ups build their human-resources infrastructures.

At Built In Chicago, was head of people and helped develop new business initiatives and foster employee engagement. Prior to that, he was senior people partner for Uptake Technologies where he provided strategic global support for the company. He also worked as the global talent and organizational development manager for Gogo Air.

Mr. Merritt is a senior lecturer at Loyola and teaches management and communication courses in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He also serves on the dean’s faculty advisory board, helping shape the direction of the adult-education program.

Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard (PhD ’05)

School of Education

In 2010, Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard became president of Montgomery College, a three-campus community college in Rockville, Maryland, with 56,000 students. Read full bio

A former president of Las Positas College in Livermore, California, Dr. Pollard also served on the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges.

She is a member of the Subscribers’ Advisory Board for United Educators, the Equity Advisory Board for Mission Partners, and the Center for First-generation Student Success Advisory Board for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges and as the president of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. Recently named one of Washington's 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian Magazine, Dr. Pollard won a 2017 Academic Leadership Award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and was a recipient of a Visionary Award by the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

The Honorable Mike Quigley (JD ’89)

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

The Honorable Mike Quigley became the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 5th congressional district in 2009. Read full bio

A former Cook County commissioner who began his career through community service and environmental stewardship in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Rep. Quigley has served the Chicago area for more than 30 years.

A Sierra Club member since high school, he is a stalwart defender of the environment and supports legislation that promotes clean-energy development, reduces harmful carbon and methane emissions, and protects public lands and wildlife.

In 2017, he was named vice-chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. There he works to promote legislation that preserves healthy ecosystems, which he believes are vital to protect the earth and ensure robust and sustained economic growth and sound national security. The Chicago Reader has called Rep. Quigley “arguably the greenest elected official in Chicago,” as he continues to host climate-change tours in the 5th district and across the country.

Ms. Maria Woltjen (JD ’87)

School of Law

Maria Woltjen is founder and executive director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago Law School. Read full bio

The Young Center is a national organization that advocates for the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children from all corners of the world—Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, India, China, Romania, and Somalia, among other places. The federal government appoints the Young Center to serve as child advocate—similar to a guardian ad litem—for the most vulnerable of these children. The Young Center has offices in Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Harlingen, Texas.

Ms. Woltjen’s focus is on reforming the immigration system—in which children are now treated as adults—into a justice system that recognizes children as children, with rights and protection needs all their own. She is the recipient of the American Constitution Society 2013 Ruth Goldman Award and the 2017 UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Award.

Dr. Daniel Mulrooney (MD ’97)

Stritch School of Medicine

As deputy director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Dr. Daniel Mulrooney cares for cancer survivors across the age spectrum. Read full bio

Dr. Mulrooney is deputy director of the After Completion of Therapy Clinic for childhood cancer survivors at St. Jude's. His research has been focused on late cardiovascular outcomes in this population. He is a task force chair for the Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines of the Children’s Oncology Group Late Effects Committee and program director of the survivorship fellowship at St. Jude.

After graduating from the Stritch School of Medicine, Dr. Mulrooney completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology/blood and marrow transplantation at the University of Minnesota. He earned a master’s degree in clinical research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and joined the faculty at the university’s Masonic Children’s Hospital before moving to St. Jude in 2012.

Sister Donna Marie Wolowicki, C.R. (BSN ’71, MSN ’75)

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

As CEO of Resurrection Medical Center, Sister Donna Marie Wolowicki, C.R., initiated a number of new health programs for women, children and families. Read full bio

These important programs include a newborn home-visiting program, community education and health-screening programs for women and children, a pediatric wellness clinic, and the expansion of the New Beginnings Prenatal and Postpartum Clinic for public aid families. She also initiated the design of family-centered patient care units to address the needs of the whole person and the family.

Sister Wolowicki is on the boards of directors of Maryville Academy, Solidarity Bridge, and the Fr. Michael J. McGivney Center of Hope and Healing. She received the 2012 Chicago Health Executives Forum Career Achievement Award, the 2013 Loyola University of Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award, and the 2016 Presence Resurrection Medical Center Inspire Award for Community Service.

Ms. Kimberly Cavnar (BA ’77, MPS ’80)

Institute of Pastoral Studies

As principal of St. Francis Xavier School, the only Jesuit Catholic PS-8 school in Phoenix, Kim Cavnar has devoted her life to teaching and leadership in education.Read full bio

Before pursuing graduate studies at Loyola’s Institute of Pastoral Studies, Ms. Cavnar earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Loyola. Upon graduation, she served as the University’s associate director of campus ministry and also taught part time from 1977 to 1980 in the Department of Communication Arts. In addition, she has taught religious studies and served in campus ministry at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange, St. Louise de Marillac High School in Northfield, and St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. She taught and served in leadership roles at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego, Brophy Jesuit College Preparatory in Phoenix, and Loyola High School of Los Angeles. Ms. Cavnar earned a second master’s degree in educational leadership from Arizona State University.

Ms. Maudette T. Carr (BSW ’96, MSW ’01)

School of Social Work

A licensed social worker who specializes in hospice and palliative care, Maudette T. Carr is a field social worker for Advocate Hospice and Palliative Care in Downers Grove. Read full bio

Ms. Carr also has worked as a medical social worker for Aspire Healthcare, Loyola University Health System, Rush Hospice Partners, and the University of Chicago Health System. She worked as a volunteer director and an associate director of the ethnic ministries office for the Archdiocese of Chicago, serving as a liaison for the African-American Catholic community.

An experienced workshop presenter on hospice and end-of-life topics for staff, churches, community groups, high school theology classes, and fellow Loyola alumni, Ms. Carr was chair of the National Association of Social Workers. She is the first recipient of the Martha Jane Tolton Award from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the MVP awards for compassion and excellence from Advocate Hospice.


Coffey Award

Named for M. Justitia Coffey, BVM, the first president of Mundelein College, this award honors an alumna for her leadership in the community, accomplishments in industry, and service to others.

Ms. Christine Boyd (MUND ’73, MPS ’87)

Gannon Center for Women and Leadership

Since 1991, Christine Boyd has served as principal of St. Thomas of Canterbury School in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, which educates students from 37 nations with a 98 percent poverty ratio. Read full bio

In 2001, St. Thomas united with St. Mary of the Lake Catholic School, and she became principal of both. The mission of St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Schools is to provide a place of welcome and strong intellectual and moral training for immigrant children, many of whom hail from refugee camps in Africa. Ms. Boyd is proud that there were 46 graduates in the Class of 2018; 15 were accepted to St. Ignatius College Prep and 22 to Loyola Academy. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and music from Mundelein College, she also earned a Master of Pastoral Studies and an administrator’s certificate in education from Loyola.


Felice Award

Named after the founding director of the John Felice Rome Center, this award is given to a JFRC alumnus(a) who has shown exemplary leadership in business, the community, and support to the Rome Center.

Ms. Gemma Cassaretto Allen-Nader (JFRC ’64-65, BS ’66)

John Felice Rome Center

A family-law attorney and partner at Allen & Glassman, Chartered, Gemma Cassaretto Allen-Nader is a litigator and court-certified mediator. Read full bio

Ms. Allen-Nader hosts Better Beginnings, Fewer Endings Think Tanks™ and is a prolific author on family law. She serves on the planning committee for “Business Valuation: Financial Tax and Issues,” wrote the IICLE chapter on child support for more than 15 years, co-wrote “The New Love Deal” on the financial aspects of relationships, and appears weekly on the Business First AM segment Marriage Money Gems.™

Named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women, Ms. Allen-Nader won the 2017 Chicago Business Journal and Enterprising Woman magazine awards for her business success and commitment to volunteerism and mentoring. A past president of nonprofits The Lilac Tree and Forensic Forum, she was named one of 50 Fabulous Women Over 50 by Chicago Woman and featured in Dynamic Women of Chicago in 2018.