A fierce spirit of camaraderie, drive and determination proved the winning combination for McAuley’s 1977 volleyball team. Twelve players, under the guidance of coach Donna Smith, were primed and ready for an award-winning season, when McAuley joined the Illinois State High School Association. The team finished the season undefeated, with a record of 32 wins and no losses, earning the school’s first State Championship title and paving the way for the McAuley volleyball program to become a powerhouse in Chicagoland high school sports. In the years that followed that inaugural win, the school has won a record 16 state championships -- the most of any school in the state of Illinois.
McAuley Hall 2021 Honorees
As March is National Women's History Month, we can think of no better time to celebrate the women we induct into our McAuley Hall of Honor for 2021. Each of these women epitomizes the lifetime advantage of a McAuley education. Their stories of passion and perseverance are inspiring and true hallmarks of McAuley women.
Jeannie Doyle Cella '69 LCPC
For 29 years, Jeannie Cella channeled her passion, energy and expertise into advancing the mission of Wellness House.
The 1977 McAuley Championship Volleyball Team
A fierce spirit of camaraderie, drive and determination proved the winning combination for McAuley’s 1977 volleyball team.
Lietenant Ashley Shenberger-Hess '99, Psy.D
Lieutenant Ashley Shenberger-Hess served as the embedded psychologist for Submarine Group 10 and staff psychologist for the nearly 6,000 personnel at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Georgia.
Melody Spann Cooper '82
Melody Spann Cooper ‘82 is chairwoman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, a best-in-class African-American-owned media boutique.
Sister Elizabeth Pardo, IHM
As grant writer for Mother McAuley, Sister Elizabeth Pardo helped to secure more than $1.5 million in funding for McAuley programs and scholarships.
Bernadette "Bernie" Barry Cuttone '68
Bernadette Cuttone boasts a celebrated teaching and administrative career in Catholic education. She became the first lay principal of St. Christina School in 1996.
The History of the Mother McAuley Hall of Honor
Established in 2013, the McAuley Hall of Honor highlights inspiring members of the McAuley family whose stories reinforce the belief that McAuley's influence provides the foundation to achieve extraordinary things.
Induction is a high honor bestowed upon members of The McAuley Family, which includes alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, and all who have supported, led, or served Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School/Saint Xavier Academy, including the Sisters of Mercy. To be considered for this prestigious honor, nominees must have distinguished themselves through achievement or service, inspired others through their courage or selflessness, served McAuley/Saint Xavier Academy faithfully and/or brought credit to McAuley/Saint Xavier Academy.
In June 2012, Lieutenant Ashley Shenberger-Hess was commissioned in the United States Navy. Currently, Ashley is serving as both the embedded psychologist for Submarine Group 10 and staff psychologist for the nearly 6,000 personnel at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Georgia. Here, she established a mental health clinic within Submarine Group 10 and improved retention rates with an unprecedented 95% return to duty rate. Ashley previously served on the Joint Task Force (JTF), Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, assigned to the JTF’s Joint Medical Group as the officer in charge for the Joint Stress Mitigation and Restoration Team. She directed and mentored a joint clinic staff of 10 psychiatric technicians and one medical service corps officer. Ashley's leadership skills and expertise have earned her commendation for her efforts in establishing programs and resources to screen and support the mental health of thousands of military personnel.
Sister Elizabeth Pardo currently serves as a grant writer for Mother McAuley, a position she has held since October 2007. During this time, she has helped to secure more than $1.5 million in funding for McAuley programs and scholarships. Sister Liz’s career as a teacher, supervisor and grade school principal spans 47 years. Most notably, as principal of Epiphany School in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, she was pivotal in raising the funds necessary to prevent the school’s closing by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2005. In 2021, Sister Elizabeth will celebrate 55 years since she professed her vows to the religious order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Her strong belief in the mission and value of Catholic education set the stage for a celebrated teaching and administrative career for Bernadette Cuttone. After serving as a junior high teacher and assistant principal, the latter at St. Michael in Orland Park, Bernadette became the first lay principal of St. Christina School in 1996. In 2005 she returned to St. Michael in the role of principal, where she served until her retirement in 2015. Under Bernadette’s leadership, enrollment increased and a preschool program was launched, and in 2013 the U.S. Department of Education recognized the school as a “National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.” Beloved by former students, parents and faculty and staff, Bernadette is a past recipient of the Archdiocese of Chicago “Heart of the School Award.”
For 29 years, Jeannie Cella channeled her passion, energy and expertise into advancing the mission of Wellness House. Opened in 1990, Wellness House offers no-cost programs and personalized support to patients, their families, and caregivers which prepare and empower people to fully live life with cancer and beyond. While completing her graduate studies, Jeannie joined Wellness House as an intern. After becoming a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, she joined the programming staff and continued to fulfill various roles. In 2016 she was named president and CEO. During her career, Wellness House grew from a 1,100 square foot facility to more than 15,000, while the number of programs increased from 20 to 510 per month. Jeannie retired in December 2019.
Jennifer Costello Fortner '94 is a Managing Director and a private wealth advisor in the Consumer and Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs (GS) in Chicago. Over the past 20 years, she and her three business partners and broader team have grown one of the largest private wealth management businesses in the country. Through GS, Jenny co-founded and led several professional development, networking groups and conferences for women, including the GS Chicago Women’s Network, the GS Private Wealth Advisors National Women’s Conference and GS Women Reaching Accelerated Potential program. In the community, Jenny is a board member and finance committee member of the Special Olympics International Board. She is the Immediate Past Board Chair of the Special Olympics Illinois Board and in July 2018, she co-chaired the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary in Chicago, raising $10 million. Jenny also is involved with the Big Shoulders Fund serving Catholic Schools in Chicago.
Carla Hall '73 (Los Angeles, CA) serves on the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, where she channels the voice of the paper as a civic body on issues that concern the city, the state, the country and the world. Before joining the board, she was a general assignment and investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ California section. She previously worked for the Washington Post’s Style section, where she juggled writing with acting roles in small theaters and a few TV shows. Carla graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in history and science.
Mary Cartan Hendry '63 enjoyed a celebrated career in higher education for 44 years. She began her career in 1963 as an Admissions Counselor at Saint Xavier University (then Saint Xavier College), where she continued to serve for 29 years. In 1996 she left her role at Vice President for Enrollment Management and joined Roosevelt University as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, leading a division of 150 employees in the recruitment and retention of the school’s 8,600 students. Her work earned her awards from the Illinois and National Association of College Admission Counseling.
Dr. Jennifer I. Lim '80 holds the Marion H. Schenk Esq., Chair in Ophthalmology for Research in the Aging Eye as a Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Retina Service at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her areas of expertise include surgical and medical retinal diseases. Dr. Lim has received numerous professional awards and distinctions. She was the inaugural University of Illinois at Chicago Distinguished Sweeney Lecturer and was named to Chicago Super Docs, Best Doctors in America, Top Doctors and the American Society of Retina Specialists Hall of Fame. She has authored or co-authored over 300 articles, 30 book chapters and edited several books including Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which is currently in the Third Edition.
Dawn Jenkinson McKenna '86 is one of America’s most successful, creative, and sought-after luxury real estate agents. She is the #1 agent in Chicago and the Midwest, for the past decade she has been the #1 agent in Hinsdale, IL and a member of the Coldwell Banker President’s Elite top 1% of agents. Dawn’s record sales have been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, RealTrends rankings, Forbes and Crain’s Chicago Business. She has even been on the cover of Chicago Agent Magazine and earned the distinction of being named a Crain’s Chicago Business “40 Under 40.” Dawn has been a trusted “go-to” source for players and management of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago TV and radio personalities, and industry leaders from blue chip companies such as Deloitte, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey Consulting.
Sister Ellen Marie Ryan, RSM served as a member of the Mother McAuley music faculty for over 30 years. She taught a variety of music classes including general music, chorus, and directed the a cappella choir and orchestra. In the role of department chairperson, she expanded the faculty and program, including travel opportunities for choral and instrumental students to travel to competitions, festivals, civic and church functions and Mercy schools across the country for performances. Moreover, in service to the sick and the elderly, her students presented programs in nursing homes, hospitals and senior residences, bringing joy to many. Since retiring from teaching, Sister Ellen established the Alumnae Choir. In 2012, several music alumnae established a scholarship in Sister Ellen’s honor, which annually awards $500 to an incoming freshman student who has demonstrated music experience in her grade school and/or church and will continue her music education at McAuley.
The Honorable Jean Prendergast Rooney was appointed Cook County Circuit Court Judge in 2010, the first woman from her local class to become a member of the judiciary. Previously, Jean was in private practice at the Chicago firm of Schulyer, Roche and Crisham, where she led the firm’s litigation practice, including trial and appellate work in both federal and state courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court. She earned the distinction of “40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch” in 2007 by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and was named an “Illinois Super Lawyer” for four consecutive years. Jean passed away in December 2015. Her friends and family continue to speak warmly of her unwavering friendship, intellect, successful career and love for her family.
Dr. Mariann Piano is the Nancy & Hilliard Travis Professor of Nursing and Senior Associate Dean for Research at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She has a distinguished career in substance abuse research, focusing on understanding the adverse effects of unhealthy alcohol drinking patterns on the cardiovascular system. Her work has been supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Center for Research Resources. Mariann spent nearly 30 years teaching graduate and undergraduate courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where she holds the title of Professor Emerita, and was instrumental in developing the college’s first adult nurse practitioner programs.
Mary Jean Ryan is the founding director of Community Center for Education Results (CCER), a non-profit based in Seattle. CCER staffs the regional Road Map Project: a collective impact initiative aimed at dramatically improving education for low-income students and students of color. The program has signed up over 30,000 low income students for college scholarships through its relationships with schools and other partners. Mary Jean’s work has earned her the Passionate Citizenship Honoree Award from the Wales Foundation, the Parent Magazine Award, and the Washington PTA’s Statewide Friend of Children Award. Seattle Magazine named her one of their Most Influential People in 2009.
Joy Bivins is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Chicago History Museum, where she channels her expertise on African American history, the Great Migration, Chicago’s world’s fairs, gospel music history, and urban history into a number of diverse exhibition projects. Joy’s love for history began kindling during her time at McAuley. Joy presents regularly at local elementary and high schools, at annual meetings of museum associations, and has taught classes on museum interpretation at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Joan Bransfield has enjoyed a long and distinguished career with the Chicago Archdiocesan schools. Most notably, as principal of the School of St. Mary in Lake Forest, Joan helped oversee a $6.1 million campaign for the construction of a new building. Under her leadership, St. Mary’s grew to become one of the 10 largest elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joan’s commitment to education earned her recognition as a National Distinguished Principal by the U.S. Secretary of Education, and Most Distinguished Catholic Principal in the Midwest by the National Catholic Education Association.
Sister Cathleen Cahill served as Curriculum Director and then Principal of Mother McAuley from 1978 to 1987. Throughout her time at McAuley, Sister Cathleen embraced her commitment to education and her leadership role with faith. Her work today remains integral to many of the Sisters of Mercy education initiatives. Most recently, she filled the role of Chair of the Education Sponsorship Council of the Sisters of Mercy West-Midwest. For Sister Cathleen Cahill, mercy is not just a word, it is a gift to be shared and passed on to others.
Jean Morman Unsworth is a renowned artist, lecturer, author and founder of the Mother McAuley art department. She also is a professor emerita of fine arts at Loyola University. Her extensive portfolio of media includes sculptures, stained glass, fabric, photography, paints, drawing and metal. Most recently she endowed the Jean Morman Unsworth Art Expressways Gallery at Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA).
Marita Carey Sullivan ’65 is the former Chief Executive Officer and remains Chairman of the Board of JMG Financial Group Ltd., an independent wealth management firm. In 2008 and 2009 Marita was named as one of The 50 Distinguished Women in Wealth Management by Wealth Management Magazine. She is a member of The Chicago Network and Illinois CPA Society. Marita serves on the Board of Almost Home Kids, a charity that provides transitional care to children with complicated health needs.
Kathy Wendt Sudeikis ’64 has been a leader in the travel industry for more than 45 years. She has served as president and CEO of The American Society of Travel Agents, earning her induction into its Hall of Fame and the honor of being named Travel Agent of the Year. Since 2004, Travel + Leisure magazine has named her a Top Travel Agent. Kathy appears in Travel Agent Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Travel. In 2015, Kathy was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Travel Weekly Magazine.
Dr. Bernadette Ryan ’76 is an accomplished scientist, business owner and author. In 2000, she cofounded, Experimur, a company dedicated to conducting research for the development and safety evaluation of pharmaceutical and biotechnology based medicines. During the company’s 2007 expansion, Bernadette oversaw the design and construction of the 54,000 square foot state-of-the-art research facility and labs. Bernadette also is a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology.
Renée Popovits ’82, a nationally-recognized thought leader, strategist and policy advocate in the behavioral health field, is founder and principal attorney of the law firm, Popovits Law Group. She lectures extensively on ethics, parity, confidentiality and managed care issues. She serves on the boards and committees of several organizations, including the Catholic Charities Legal Advisory Committee and the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council. Francis Cardinal George awarded her with the Compassion in Action award.
Kathy Roche Napleton ’68 is a former educator who embodies the values and vision of Catherine McAuley. Kathy is an advocate for Catholic grade school education and support services. As a family volunteer and philanthropist, she has devoted countless hours supporting local organizations and parishes, including Circle of Friends, The Illinois Club for Catholic Women, and several Catholic high schools in the Chicago area.
A strong work ethic and passion to help others was first cultivated within Nancy Jean Coleman Mulcahy during her time as a McAuley student. In 1999, along with her sister Carol Moriarty and friend, Lisa O’Brien Garmes, Nancy started the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk. What began as a local event with 25-30 participants has grown into fundraiser attended by 14,000 people. Proceeds from the walk benefit the Little Company of Mary Hospital Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center.
Teri Beran Kulat has been a practicing attorney for over 20 years, using Collaborative Law to help families and businesses. Integrating her faith into her professional life, she founded Trinity Family Law -- a firm with a mission to empower people during legal negotiations so that they are enabled to build healthy new lives, prosper financially and co-parent children effectively. Teri serves as a mentor to McAuley alumnae who are looking to practice law in a more holistic manner, and participates in the McAuley Law Society.
Kathy Gordon Davis has been a faculty member in the Art Department at McAuley for more than 26 years. Beloved by her colleagues, peers and students, Kathy’s love of her profession exemplifies the superior teaching that makes McAuley stand out. Her dedication to and love for the McAuley community is further affirmed through her role as art instructor in a program she’s created for the retired Sisters of Mercy.
Sister Rosemary Connelly has influenced the Chicago community for more than 40 years as the executive director of Misericordia. Her leadership has been integral to Misericordia growing into a loving, challenging and dignified environment for more than 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities. To the residents, families, friends and staff of Misericordia, this special place truly has become “home.” Mother McAuley students have strengthened their own cultural empathy under the inspiring leadership of Sister Rosemary and through various volunteer opportunities.
Barbara McCann Bansley a graduate of Mother McAuley’s predecessor, Saint Xavier Academy, dedicated her life to teaching and fostering the creativity of others through art. A highly-regarded artist, her work was featured in displays at the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College and the Beverly Art Center. Barbara passed away in March of 2009, but today her work adorns the halls at Mother McAuley, and her commitment to Catholic education lives on through her daughters and granddaughters who attended McAuley.
As a licensed physical therapist and a professor at Governors State University, Robbie Kuchler O’Shea brings her compassion and care to assist children ages 0-3 who have developmental difficulties, particularly underprivileged and at-risk infants and their families. Additionally, Robbie has worked with Chicago Area Families for Adoption and sits on the board at the Center for Independence, a non-profit committed to improving the lives of children with disabilities.
Anne Bigane Wilson was one of the first women enrolled in the Construction Engineering and Management program at Purdue University. The fourth generation family member to oversee Bigane Paving Company, Anne is a highly-respected colleague within her profession. Her dedication to McAuley continues today. Anne and her sisters established a scholarship in her mother’s name. She also serves as chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
Since 2008, former NCAA All-American and national champion at Penn State, Katie Schumacher-Cawley has served as head coach of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) women’s volleyball program, where she has led the team to 71 victories.
For the past 28 years, Trish Biondo’s voice has streamed across the Chicago airwaves for US99 FM Radio, where she’s been well-known as an on-air personality for the morning and mid-day programs.
A staunch supporter of women’s education, Barbara Patrick O'Toole was a specialist in freedom of speech issues as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois for more than 40 years. Barbara passed away in September 2013.
Known as “Peggy Dee” to her classmates, Margaret exhibited leadership skills throughout her four years at McAuley. She served as chair of her homeroom for two years and was a member of student council. As a senior, Margaret was in Sister Simeon’s first advanced music appreciation class. This set the stage for Margaret to pursue music education at Chicago State University and then the University of Missouri where she earned a Ph.D. She later enrolled in a Management Development Program at Harvard University.
Kerry has made it her mission to encourage children and adults to “choose kind” and embrace the beauty in the differences in all children.
For more than 30 years Sister Nancy Houlihan has served McAuley as an English teacher, beloved by the thousands of young women who have come to know her as teacher, mentor and friend.
Anne is owner and president of Cotter Consulting, Inc., a Woman-Owned, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and expert Program Management and Construction Management Firm she founded in 1990.
Visionary builders of a solar-powered biodiesel processor designed to be fueled by oil from the “McAuley Jatropha Farm” to create an economy for Pichon, Haiti (a village in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country), to enable the children of Pichon to attend school beyond the 5th grade by providing light to the village and school. Eco Macs include: Eileen O'Donnell ‘12, Mary O'Donnell ‘10, Ana Vasquez ‘11, Kim Schmidt ‘11, Christine Schmidt ‘13, Jenna Krukowski ‘12, Christina Lopez ‘12, Danielle Crispo ‘12, Katherine Kezon ‘13, Sarah Zwickl ‘12 and Dr. Roz Iasillo.
Cook County Board Commissioner, tax-payer advocate, representative for the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
American Diplomat who has served the United States of America for more than 25 years including as the Charge d'Affaires to Turkmenistan and United States Counsel General to Vladivostok, Russia.
Director of Equity Research for KeyCorp, an investing group that oversees more than 500 companies; chartered financial analyst and tireless board member working on behalf of underprivileged youth and Catholic education.
Overcame Polio to become a multilingual Fulbright Scholar and a family practice physician.
Renowned author of 15 natural history books and travel guides, wildlife photographer, talented illustrator, natural history lecturer and former PanAmerican Airlines flight attendant.
Master English teacher, architect of the Mother McAuley liberal arts curriculum, McAuley Principal, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago and former Chief of Staff for Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
World War II cryptographer (code breaker), gifted linguist, 37 year volunteer at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, member of the Archdiocese of Chicago Lumen Cordium Society, champion of Catholic education, lifelong learner and mother of 12 children including five McAuley alumnae.