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2014 McAuley Hall Honorees

Pictured from left to right are honorees Trish Biondo Soltys '85, Kerry Ryan Lynch '98, president, Mary Acker Klingenberger '75, Patrick O'Toole (son of Barbara Patrick O'Toole, SXA '55), Sister Nancy Houlihan, RSM, Katie Schumacher Cawley '97, Margaret Dee Merrion '67 and Anne Edwards Cotter '73.

Honoree Video


Katie Schumacher Cawley ‘97

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.

During her McAuley career, Katie excelled at volleyball and basketball, earning All-Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) honors in both sports and leading the Mighty Macs to state and national titles in volleyball.  She was named the 1996 Player of the Year by The Southtown Star Newspaper and the 1997 Chicago Sun-Times Female Athlete of the Year, among many awards and highlights.

At Penn State, Katie helped lead the Nittany Lions to the 1999 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship and earn three Big Ten Conference titles. She has been inducted into the GCAC Hall of Fame and Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, and is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. In 2013 she was named a UIC "INSPIRE" Award winner.  This award recognizes individuals who have based their work and daily attitudes on UIC's core values of Integrity, Nurturance, Service, Pride, Intellect, Respect and Excellence.

Says one nominator:

“I have never worked with or for a more caring and selfless individual than Katie.  In the world of competitive sports, it is very hard to find someone that cares about the person first and athlete second. For Katie, there is simply no other way to coach.  She is a mentor first and coach second. She strives to teach our student-athletes volleyball, but ends up teaching them more important lessons that will take them far beyond the court and the classroom. Katie lives a life founded on values instilled in her during her time at McAuley.”

Katie’s presence at McAuley continues today, where she can be seen cheering on the Mighty Macs in volleyball and basketball. She also is a constant fixture at alumnae events for programs, and assists with McAuley’s annual summer camps.

Anne Edwards Cotter ‘73

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. 

Anne remains a strong supporter of the school and credits much of her success to her McAuley education and the lifetime advantage it has provided her.  She recently served as the chair of the Mother McAuley Board of Trustees and previously was a member of the Finance Committee. In 2006 she was awarded the school’s Distinguished Alumna Award during its annual Celebration Fundraising Gala.

As a McAuley student, Anne had a passion and talent for the performing arts.  Her senior year, she stepped into the lead role of Dolly, in “Hello Dolly!” just weeks before the performance.  Her musical inclination led her to Bradley University on a music scholarship, where she became the first woman president of the Student Council, and was the second woman to sit on the Board of Governance, preceded only by the University foundress, Lydia Moss Bradley.

As her nominator wrote: 

“As the eldest of seven children, Anne assumed a leadership role from the very beginning, teaching her siblings how to treat one another with kindness and respect, along the way showing them that you can accomplish great things if you are willing to work hard and set goals. McAuley gave Anne Edwards Cotter the platform and opportunity to achieve great success personally and spiritually. Anne has always felt that you can never fail at anything. Your only failure is the lack of not trying your best.”

Anne’s work and volunteer efforts have garnered her much recognition and many awards. In 2013, she was honored with the Women of Achievement Award by the Federation of Women Contractors and the Ethel S. Birchland Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.  She’s also the recipient of the 2006 March of Dimes Professional Award, the 2001 Bradley University Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Outstanding Alumnae Award, and in 2004 was inducted into the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Anne has been a tireless supporter of her parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Darien, serving as president of the Parish Council and overseeing several construction projects.

Sister Nancy Houlihan, RSM

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.

During her time at McAuley Sister Nancy has served as moderator of Student Council, co-moderator of the Inscape student newspaper, moderator of the yearbook and moderator of Senior Dance. In 2013, Sister Nancy was named one of seven teachers chosen to participate in McAuley’s iPad initiative; a program focused on the integration of the iPad into the classroom curriculum. 

As her nominator stated: 

“Through her diligence, attention to each student’s needs, and her faith as a Sister of Mercy, Sister Nancy exemplifies the teachings of Mother Catherine McAuley…including training young women to become assertive and successful, giving guidance and being a good listener to those in need, expressing her deep love of God and her fellow sisters and the gift of a tremendous sense of humor to help sustain others through difficult times.”

Sister Nancy continues to inspire her co-workers, students and family members to be better stewards of Catherine’s vision.  For her deep faith and commitment to the school and the students, Sister Nancy was honored in 2002 with the Catherine McAuley Leadership Award during the school’s annual Mercy Day celebration.

Sister Nancy is a member of the Saint Xavier University Board of Trustees, serves as the area convener of the Sisters of Mercy of the West/Midwest Consultation Network and is in her second five year term as the co-chair of the West Midwest Assembly Planning Committee. She previously sat on the Advisory Council of the Mercy Hospital Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center and the Sister of Mercy Region of Chicago Assembly Steering Committee, respectively, for which she was chair for many years.

Kerry Ryan Lynch ‘98

Kerry has made it her mission to encourage children and adults to “choose kind” and embrace the beauty in the differences in all children. 

In December 2011, Kerry and husband Chris welcomed Mary Cate, their first child. At birth, Mary Cate was diagnosed with Apert syndrome, a very rare condition marked by craniofacial malformation and fused fingers and toes.  Faced with many surgeries, and raising a child with special needs, Kerry embraced the opportunity to educate others about Apert syndrome and established the blog, “My Mary Cate.”

Says a nominator: 

"Kerry first started a heartfelt blog about her experience, and with the basis of faith and friends from McAuley, she’s started to raise awareness.  Her blog now has thousands of followers from all over the world.  Her inspiring words have helped other Apert families not feel so alone in their endeavor to gain acceptance for their children. Kerry, along with other Apert families, has started a non-profit organization, apertwol.org. It is designed to reach out to people who are in some way affected by Apert Syndrome to find a support network, gain knowledge and discover inspiration. Kerry has taken on a leadership role to teach others, especially children, that all human beings are unique creatures of God.”

In 2012, the National Honor Society of Mother McAuley chose Mary Cate as the recipient of its fundraising efforts during its annual Spring Ice Cream Social. The students, faculty and staff raised more than $6,000 to assist with medical expenses related to Mary Cate’s surgeries.

Inspired by the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, in 2012 Kerry began visiting Chicago-area grade schools. With Mary Cate in tow, Kerry spoke to more than 30 school groups, imparting the book’s message of “choose kind” to educate and encourage children to see beyond physical differences and limitations of others and to accept and embrace the beauty in all people.   

Since beginning her blog and outreach, Kerry’s efforts have garnered worldwide attention from families and media alike.  Her work and the story of My Mary Cate has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Today’s Chicago Parent, and most recently, “The Today Show” in Australia featured a live interview with Kerry and Mary Cate. Kerry is involved with several additional organizations which support and educate about differences, including Changing the Face of Beauty, Gigi’s Playhouse, I AM WHO I AM and the Mulliganeers.

Margaret Dee Merrion ‘67

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.

Margaret served as the Dean the College of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University, a role she held since 2000.  She previously served as the Dean and Professor in the College of Fine Arts at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  Throughout her 24 years as a university dean, she raised more than $14 million for scholarships, professorships and the campus construction of the Richmond Center for Visual Arts.

Says a nominator: 

“She exhibits the glowing example of the life accomplishments that our beloved Sisters of Mercy envision for their students…Margaret is an intelligent, articulate woman of valor who has extended her gifts and talents to make the world a better place. She demonstrates zeal for arts education by reaching out to the community and beyond.”

Margaret’s achievements have been recognized by many groups and organizations, including Rotary International which honored her philanthropy as a Paul Harris Fellow, and the Kalamazoo YWCA which recognized her with its Woman of Achievement Award.  She has authored or co-authored five books and more than two dozen articles, chapters and monographs.  For more than twenty years, she has highly-regarded as a Higher Learning Commission peer-consultant, reviewing for universities, conservatories and academies for regional accreditation.

Professionally Margaret served as president of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, as well as a board member for seven years.  Her research on the future of the arts in higher education  has been published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's Change.   She recently updated the findings for publication by the International Council of Fine Arts Deans. 

Margaret serves her community in a variety of ways.  She has been a member of the Patient Family Advisory Council and ethics committee for Bronson Methodist Hospital and currently volunteers on project-based initiatives there.  Margaret served as a board member of the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.  Frequently, she is called upon by the Michigan Humanities Council, Arts Council of Great Kalamazoo, Fontana Chamber Arts and other non-profit organizations to advance organizational effectiveness.

Barbara Patrick O’Toole, SXA ‘55

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.

Following her graduation from Saint Xavier Academy (SXA), the precursor to Mother McAuley, Barbara attended Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.  She then earned her law degree from Loyola University Chicago.

Barbara joined the ACLU of Illinois in 1970 as part-time counsel, where she worked with its Roger Baldwin Foundation until her death.  Barbara took part in several significant cases for the ACLU, and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court four time. Barbara also was the Illinois ACLU's unofficial archivist and historian.

In recent years, Barbara worked nearly full time as a volunteer lawyer with the Illinois ACLU, specializing in First Amendment matters and supervising the agency's intake department, which gets hundreds of requests for legal assistance each year.

The ACLU recognized Barbara with its Harry Kalven Freedom of Expression Award for her work ensuring the right of free speech in public forums to all persons. She also received the Earl Warren Award, for her exceptional volunteer service to the ACLU. In 1999, Saint Mary’s College honored Barbara with the Distinguished Alumna Award,

Recognizing the impact of her SXA education, in 1989 Barbara established the Katherine Patrick O'Toole Scholarship at McAuley in honor of her parents. This fully-endowed scholarship assists with tuition for a minority student through all four years of that student’s attendance at Mother McAuley. 

Trish Biondo Soltys ‘85

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.

Her formative years at McAuley were the perfect introduction to radio for Trish, who as a student, was best known for her work as the sports editor for Inscape, the school newspaper. She also served as president of the Orchestra and was a member of the National Honors Society, Student Council, Pep Band and served as a liturgical minister. 

Her work in broadcasting has given Trish a springboard to raise awareness and donations for countless service organizations.  Most notably, Trish helped create the framework for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital annual radio-thon, for which her collaborations have helped raise nearly $20 million. Trish also is involved with Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, March of Dimes, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Toys for Tots, and the Chicago Police and Fire Departments, to name just a few.

While Trish believes in paying it forward, she also pays it back, lending her vocal talent to Mother McAuley to emcee several fashion shows and other fundraising events. Last year she narrated the McAuley Hall Honoree video.

As one nominator stated:

“Trish has always been delighted to lend her time and talent to her alma mater, including her steady and enthusiastic support of the school, its students and other alumnae.”

Trish is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. In 1998, she was honored as the Billboard Music Director of the Year.  She was a four-time Academy of Country Music nominee for Major Market Broadcaster of the Year, a rare honor.  Additionally, she has been honored by the American Legion with its Veterans’ Appreciation Award. 

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