By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
When Rosemary Bisig Smith became executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation in 2004, the annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni was already 14 years old. But she’d been involved with the annual event since 1991 — a year after the first awards banquet was held.
In those early days she worked for the Archdiocese of Louisville in the Office of Stewardship, and became Director of Stewardship and Development in 1996.
“Back then Archbishop (Thomas C.) Kelly wanted the money raised from the Salute to be placed into an ‘endowment for excellence,’ ” she recalled. “We were just, in terms of raising money for education, a remarkably young organization.”
When the first “Salutes” came along, the idea was for the banquet “just to break even,” she recalled. “We were hoping that we were planting seeds with the business community and eventually those seeds would blossom into support for Catholic education.”
Along the way, there were a lot of obstacles, she recalled. There was a time in 1996 when some believed “that the event had run its course,” she recalled. “When I think of the stumbling blocks we’ve faced, it’s a wonder the event has survived.”
But not only has it survived, it has thrived. From breaking even, the annual event — this year the 24th annual Salute will be held March 18 at the Galt House Hotel — has flourished. Last year’s banquet raised a record $560,000 to support tuition assistance for families who want to send their children to Catholic schools but can’t afford it. In fact, through last year the Salute has had $6.3 million in sales with net proceeds of $3.3 million, Smith said. Impressive by any measure.
“It’s through pure determination and love of Catholic education that I continued,” Smith said. “And I had great, great help along the way. When things started, it was to be a public relations event fathered by Jack Guthrie to tell the corporate community about the value of Catholic education. Now as a fundraising event for tuition assistance, it’s really taken off.”
Led by the likes of Philip McHugh and Rich Lechleiter — who, by the way, is one of this year’s honorees — “the Salute has really taken off,” Smith said. “This year’s goal is $600,000.”
The Catholic Education Foundation became a free-standing organization, separate from the archdiocese though still tied to it through sponsorship and history, in 2004. And Smith believes the event’s brightest days lie ahead.
“We have terrific people committed to what we’re doing,” she said. “And they’re committed to ‘The Game’ luncheon, too.”
That event, held before the annual Trinity-St. Xavier high school football contest, has in five years gone from raising $25,000 to $210,000 this year. In fact, Smith noted that since its inception, ‘The Game’ luncheon has produced $646,000 in net proceeds.
The Salute itself has made something of a full circle.
“That first year, our keynote speaker was Father Theodore Hesberg of the University of Notre Dame,” Smith recalled.
This year’s keynote address will be delivered by another President of Notre Dame — Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. Biographical information on Father Jenkins and this year’s award winners follows:
Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins became the 17th president of the University of Notre Dame on July 1, 2005. He had served the previous four years as vice president and associate provost.
He was a professor of philosophy at the university and was religious superior of the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2000. As religious superior, he was a fellow and trustee of the university, but he relinquished those posts to assume his new duties in the provost’s office.
Father Jenkins has been a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1990 and was the recipient of a Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 1991-92, Father Jenkins teaches in the areas of ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy and the philosophy of religion. He is the author of Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas, published by Cambridge University Press in 1997, and has had scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and The Journal of Religious Ethics.
He delivered the annual Aquinas Lecture at the University of Dallas in January 2000.
Father Jenkins holds two degrees in philosophy from Oxford University, where he earned his B.Phil. in 1987 and his D.Phil. in 1989. While at Oxford he taught as an adjunct professor in Notre Dame’s London program in 1988-89. He earned his master of divinity degree and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1988. Prior to joining the Congregation of Holy Cross, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Notre Dame in 1976 and ‘78, respectively.
Father Jenkins was ordained a priest in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus in 1983. He served as director of the Old College program for Notre Dame undergraduate candidates for the Congregation of Holy Cross from 1991 to 1993.
T. Kevin Flanery is the president of the community’s iconic Churchill Downs Racetrack. As a graduate of DeSales High School, Flanery cites his Catholic education as one of the building blocks for his successful career. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bellarmine University then went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky.
Flanery has held a variety of positions during his career. From 2000-2002, he served as secretary of the State of Kentucky’s Finance and Administration Cabinet. He has also held positions as executive director of the Regional Leadership Coalition and president of Hagan Properties. In 2005, Flanery joined Churchill Downs Racetrack.
Under his leadership, the track has seen record growth with the Kentucky Derby and success with ventures in night racing and other events to draw crowds to the historic racetrack year round.
He is a commissioner of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and serves on the board of directors for the Governor’s Scholars program, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Greater Louisville Inc. and the Thoroughbred Racing Association. He also served as chair of the DeSales High School Board of Directors. In 2010, Flanery was inducted into the Bellarmine University Gallery of Distinction and more recently into DeSales High School’s Hall of Honors.
Flanery and his wife, Lori Hudson Flanery, have four children, Kendall Kassinger, Jared, Hayden and Micah and two grandchildren.
Mary Jo Wolford Gleason is a staff attorney for the Kentucky Court of Appeals and has served as legal counsel to the Governor’s Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services and later as the director of the Samuel L. Greenebaum Public Service program. While at the governor’s office, she served on the Battered Immigrant and Refugee Women Task Force advocating victim’s rights.
After graduating from Sacred Heart Academy, Wolford Gleason earned her bachelor’s degree at St. Louis University, a master’s in counseling psychology from Spalding University and a juris doctorate from the University of Louisville. Her community service includes memberships in the Women Lawyer’s Association, Louisville Bar Association and Kentucky Bar Association. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Just Solutions and was a former board member of Family & Children’s Place.
The importance of Catholic education runs in Wolford Gleason’s family. Her five children, Caroline Gleason Dutkanych, Therese Gleason Carr, Meg Gleason, Jack Gleason, Jr., and Tommy Gleason have attended Catholic schools. She is a member of St. Agnes Church.
Mary Moseley is the President and CEO of Louisville’s largest owner-operator of hotels, The Al J. Schneider Company, and is the winner of the CEF’s 2014 Community Service Award. The company’s properties include The Galt House Hotel, Waterfront Plaza and Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport, Waterfront Plaza, One Riverfront Plaza, the Medical Arts Building and others.
As President and CEO since 2001, Moseley has been instrumental in the revitalization of the company’s various divisions, as well as helping create a corporate structure for continued growth. She has led the charge on a $70 million dollar renovation of the Galt House Hotel, and brought the first “flagged hotel” into the company’s portfolio by way of a $28 million dollar renovation and branding of Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport. She was among the business leaders who helped make final the deal to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park at the Kentucky Exposition Center and is currently working on the renovation of a downtown office building into an Embassy Suites hotel.
Moseley serves on the following boards: the Downtown Development Corporation; Home of the Innocents — Ethics Committee; Jefferson Community and Technical College System Board of Directors; the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors and Main Street Association. She was recently selected as the recipient of Business First’s Excellence in Leadership Award.
Moseley graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor of arts and science degree. She and her husband, Sam, enjoy spending time with their two children and two grandchildren.
Mary C. Pendleton dedicated her 30-year career to service to our country. She retired in 2005 from the Department of State where she served as a diplomat. As an ambassador, she opened the first U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Moldova. As a Foreign Service Officer, she served embassies in Sudan, the Philippines, the Central African Republic, Zambia, Romania, Belgium, Egypt and consulates in Canada and Morocco. Prior to her service with the Department of State, Pendleton taught English as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Tunisia.
Pendleton says her Catholic education prepared her for hard work and working with others in different cultures. She is a graduate of Presentation Academy and Spalding and Indiana universities. She also studied at the National Defense University where she earned a master’s equivalent in public administration.
Currently Pendleton volunteers with the American Council for International Education; she is also involved with DACOR — an organization of foreign affairs professionals — and the National Peace Corps Association. She has been honored with the Caritas Award from Spalding University in 2009, the Secretary’s Career Achievement Award in 2005, presented by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and with Presentation Academy’s Tower Award for Women Leaders in 2000.
Rear Admiral Stewart O’Bryan began his 34-year career in the U.S. Navy in 1978 aboard the U.S.S Saratoga. Service to country was instilled in Stewart at a young age, since his father served in the Navy for 22 years. As a result, the family relocated often. His high school years brought him to Louisville, where he attended Trinity High School.
Following graduation from Trinity, Admiral O’Bryan earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Louisville and later a master of arts from the Naval War College in Rhode Island. He served as commanding officer of several ship and says he found the most rewarding assignment was serving as the Pre-Commissioning Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Cole. In the first two years of service under Admiral O’Bryan’s command, the U.S.S. Cole received several top naval awards, as did Admiral O’Bryan, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Seven Legion of Merits and a Bronze Star among others.
He retired from the Navy on June 1, 2012. He is currently a consultant with Seaward Services, Inc. in New Albany, Ind.
Admiral O’Bryan married his high school sweetheart, Stacia Blackard. They have three grown children, Ashley Lyon in Louisville; Blake in Hebron, Ky. and Brittney in Chester, Va. The couple have seven grandchildren with two more on the way, and are members of St. Bernadette Church.
Richard A. Lechleiter is the fourth of nine children and grew up in a family that knew the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork. They also knew the value of Catholic education. A product of St. Stephen Martyr School and St. Xavier High School, he earned his accounting degree from Xavier University in 1979, graduating first in his class from the College of Business.
After starting his career at Coopers & Lybrand in Louisville, Lechleiter joined Humana in 1981 and by 1990 had risen to Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer.
Through a series of mergers, he became the Chief Accounting Officer of a $15 billion enterprise now known as HCA.
In 1995, Lechleiter joined what is today Kindred Healthcare and, in 2002, was named its executive vice president and chief financial officer, a role he held until his retirement in January 2014. During his tenure at Kindred, the company grew from $400 million in annual revenues to more than $6 billion in 2012, making it the largest post-acute healthcare provider in the United States.
Lechleiter has served as a director of Stock Yards Bank & Trust Co. since 2007. He has also served in board leadership roles at St. Xavier High School, Sacred Heart Schools, Lifehouse, Holy Spirit Church, the Archdiocesan Building a Future of Hope Capital Campaign and the Catholic Education Foundation of Louisville. Lechleiter and his wife, Janice, have four children — Matthew, John, Claire and Andrew. They are members of Holy Spirit.
William D. Newcomb is the Vice President of Newcomb Oil Company in Bardstown, Ky. He began his career more than 30 years ago after earning a degree from Western Michigan University in petroleum distribution. He later earned a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree from Murray State University. Following his father’s lead, he has helped Newcomb Oil Co. grow into a company that owns and operates more than 70 convenience stores throughout central and western Kentucky and southern Indiana.
He is currently a member of the St. Joseph’s Men’s Club, Knights of Columbus, Kentucky Grocers Association and the Kentucky Petroleum Marketers Association. He has served as a board member of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency and the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and currently he serves on the Wilson & Muir Bank and Trust board of directors. As a graduate of Bethlehem High School, Newcomb has remained involved and dedicated to his alma mater. He is chairman of the Bethlehem High School Legacy Foundation and is a past member of Bethlehem High School’s board of directors. In 2009, he and his wife, Karen, were co-recipients of the Bethlehem High School Alumni of the Year honor.
Newcomb and his wife have five children, Daniel, Cara, Rose, Thomas and Mark. They are members of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky.
Martha Lies won this year’s Father Joseph McGee Teaching Award and was featured in a story on the front page of the Feb. 13 edition of The Record.