The March 18 Salute to Catholic School Alumni aims to raise a record $1.2 million to help families afford Catholic schools. The evening will feature the affable Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and will honor eight people whose lives exemplify the values of Catholic education.
Cardinal Dolan, who also headlined the banquet in 2016, will offer the evening’s keynote address. He recently returned from a six-day mission trip to Cuba, where he met with the nation’s leaders, as well as children, the elderly and those who were ill.
His speech will be followed by the presentation of honors and awards to eight people who have been influenced by Catholic education to lift up their communities and the people around them.
Richard A. Lechleiter, president of the Catholic Education Foundation, said the event’s honorees aren’t “the highest flying CEOs.”
The evening honors “someone who has lived an exemplary life,” he said.
The Salute dinner is the largest fundraiser for the CEF and the net proceeds of $1.2 million will be used directly to fund tuition assistance for students that want to attend a Catholic grade school and can’t afford it.
“We did $1.1 million last year — that’s our net number,” said Lechleiter. “It was a record and we’re trying to do $1.2 million this year, which would be an all-time high. We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it. That would be an enormous win for the families that need us.”
Lechleiter noted that the funds raised at the Salute have nearly doubled over the last five years. But the foundation will have to reach even higher in the next decade to help families.
“When you think about inflation and families ability to meet that rising cost — it’s a huge issue for families,” he said. “If we don’t have more capital at the foundation, we’re not going to be able to support families.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced last month a commitment to provide $90 million in funding to its schools on the South and West sides of the city in collaboration with the Big Shoulders Fund, a foundation established to support the area’s Catholic schools.
Lechleiter said the local CEF is preparing a 10-year strategic plan to grow its $22 million endowment. This effort and events like the Salute, he said, will help more young people grow up to contribute to the community.
The Salute dinner will honor eight people in all.
Assumption High School’s Dr. Lisa Wieland will receive the Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator Award. A story about Wieland will be published in an upcoming edition.
The Distinguished Community Service Award will be presented to Randy Bufford, founder and chairman of Trilogy Health Services, which operates more than 115 senior living communities across four states. He has nearly 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry. He and his wife Susan have also established the Trilogy Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to serving company employees, which helps provide education and emergency assistance. They couple also established The Bufford Family Foundation, funding charitable causes across the Louisville community.
In addition to the award recipients, six distinguished alumni of Catholic schools will be honored. They are:
Elizabeth C. Arnett
Arnett attended Holy Family School, Resurrection School and Presentation Academy. She attended Bellarmine College (now university) while also teaching at Guardian Angels School and later graduated from the University of Louisville.
She taught for several years in Catholic schools and later worked at local funeral homes helping families deal with the grief. In 2006, her script for “My Fair Gentleman,” a play about how illiterate adults struggle for survival, was presented at the Juneteenth Jamboree of New Plays hosted by Actors Theatre. She published a novel, “The Unbroken Connection,” in 2009, for which she was honored by the Kentucky Arts Council.
Arnett has been a long-time volunteer at Presentation Academy and was named its Outstanding Alumna in 2016. She is also a volunteer leader in The Queen’s Daughters, Catholic Charities’ ministry with refugees and St. Agnes Church, where she and her family have been members since 1976. Arnett and her husband David have two children.
Rev. Joseph T. Graffis
Father Graffis has served for nearly 50 years as a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
He attended Holy Spirit School, Our Lady of Lourdes School and Aquinas Prep School. For high school, he attended St. Thomas Seminary and went on to St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore.
He was ordained on May 29, 1971.
He served as an associate pastor at St. Rita Church followed by dual roles in Bellarmine University’s Campus Ministry and the Archdiocesan Clergy Personnel Commission.
He served as pastor of the Church of the Epiphany, St. Augustine Church and St. Edward Church.
He has been called out of retirement to serve in interim administrative roles at St. Gregory, St. Raphael and St. Francis of Assisi parishes.
He has also served as president of the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, co-chaplain at Presentation Academy and has been a long-time panelist on The Moral Side of the News. In addition, he has spent much of his career advocating for children, serving in a leadership role for WHAS Crusade for Children since 1997.
James J. Kirchdorfer, Jr.
Kirchdorfer is the chairman and CEO of Louisville-based ISCO Industries.
He attended St. Leonard School and graduated from St. Xavier High School. He earned his undergraduate degree in business from Miami University in 1991.
He began his career at ISCO in the early 1990s, working summers at the company during college. The company began as a family-owned hardware store in the Highlands. It has become a leader in the piping products industry with more than 35 locations and 600 employees world-wide. The company has earned the Louisville Business First “Fast 50” distinction 12 times in recognition of its growth.
As an avid golfer, Kirchdorfer is an advocate for the game’s positive impact on young people, serving on the boards of The First Tee of Louisville, Valhalla Golf Club, Golf Course Builders of America Foundation, and the Kentucky Golf Foundation. He also serves as a member of The Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda, Young Presidents Organization and the St. Xavier High School X-Effect Campaign Cabinet. In 2019, he was named one of the “Most Admired CEOs” by Louisville Business First.
He and his wife, Dana, have two children and are members of Holy Trinity Church.
F. Loueva Moss
Moss attended St. Monica School in Lebanon, Ky. She went on to graduate from Rosenwald High School in 1956. Three years later, she completed her registered nurse training at Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing. She would later earn her undergraduate degree in nursing from Spalding University.
For more than three decades, she served thousands of students in Jefferson County Public Schools as a school nurse in the Exceptional Student Education Department.
Her decades-long service to her church and the west Louisville community have taken many forms, from her home parish at Christ the King Church, to board roles on the Council for Developmental Disabilities, the Shawnee Christian Health Care Center and the Shawnee Neighborhood Association. She has been honored by the Archdiocese of Louisville Office of Multicultural Ministry with the Acacia Award and in 2009 received a WLKY Bell Award.
She and her late husband, Arthur, raised four children. She has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
L. Russell Read
Read attended Holy Trinity School and graduated from Trinity High School in 1971. He graduated from Xavier University and earned a master’s at Bellarmine University.
Read had a 40-year career in TV broadcast, production and marketing. He co-founded one of the country’s first digital television and film production companies in Charlotte, N.C. After several career moves, he and his family returned to Louisville in 2000 and he retired in 2013 from the broadcast industry.
He now serves as executive director of Beacon House, an organization for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. He also serves as an acolyte at his parish, Holy Trinity Church, where he also served on the parish council.
He was a two-time Emmy Award recipient during his television career and, in 2019, received the distinguished Peace Medal from Trinity High School.
He and his wife, Terri, raised two sons.
Laura M. Schwab
Laura Schwab graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and the University of Notre Dame and earned a law degree from the University of Kentucky.
She currently serves as the president of Aston Martin The Americas and is the first female to lead the 107-year-old company.
She and her husband, Nick, reside in southern California with their three-year-old daughter. They are members of St. Edward the Confessor Church.