Alumni Achievement Awards

Murphy-Hayden-Salvador-Shiavo

The Bishop O'Connell Alumni Association annually recognizes alumni for their contributions to society through the presentation of the following alumni awards:

  • Distinguished Alumni Award -This award is granted to O'Connell graduates for significant accomplishments in business or professional life or for distinguished human service to their community, state, or nation.
  • Knights Service Award - This award is granted to O'Connell graduates for specific and meritorious service to their school and/or community.
  • Young Alumni Achievement Award - This award is granted to O'Connell graduates age 40 or younger at time of nomination, for significant accomplishments in business or professional life.
Meet Our 2017 Awardees

Robert Murphy '67 - Distinguished Alumni
Michael Hayden '74 - Knights Service Award
Christine Salvador '95 - Knights Service Award
Dante Schiavo, MD '01 - Young Alumni Award
Read more about our 2017 honorees...

Nominate an Alum

Do you know of an O'Connell alum doing great things in the community or who has made extraordinary contributions in his/her professional field? Nominate him/her for an Alumni Achievement Award. Please review the criteria above and include as much information as possible with your nomination. Questions? Contact lfriel@bishopoconnell.org or call 703-237-1446.

Previous Honorees by Year

2016 Awardees

H. Joel Schmidt, M.D. '76
Distinguished Alumni Award
Dr. Schmidt spent most of his medical career in the Army where he remained for 26 years with assignments as a general pediatrician, a community hospital deputy commander, a member of a medical center command staff, a member of the Army surgeon general's staff, and culminating as the chief of pediatric pulmonology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and director of the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Center at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. As the director of an Affiliate CF Center he was elected by his peers to the national CF Foundation Center Committee, the governing body of all CF Centers in the U.S. He is a member of the CF Foundation's Data Safety Monitoring Board to help ensure safety for CF research studies. Dr. Schmidt retired from the Army as a Colonel in 2006 to join the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at CHoR. From 2009 through 2013, he was the interim chief of the division and the director of the CF Center. He is now the CF Care Center's Pediatric Program Director. In 2014, Dr. Schmidt was elected to serve on the the MCV Physicians Board of Directors. He is one of three full-time faculty selected for membership and will serve a three year term. He is on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Chapter of the CF Foundation. He is a fellow in the American College of Chest Physicians. He was named as one of Richmond's "Top Docs" in pediatric pulmonology by Richmond Magazine from 2012-2014 and was named "top vote-getter" in pediatric pulmonology from 2012-2013. He was selected to be included in the "Best Doctors in America" 2013 and 2014 database. He is married to Daphne Schmidt and has three adult children. He is a 1980 graduate of Virginia Tech and received his medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Sister Catherine Hill, I.H.M. '66
Knights Service Award
Sister Catherine Hill is a lifelong member of St. Agnes Parish in Arlington where she attended kindergarten through eighth grade. A graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School in 1966, Sister Catherine was the Valedictorian of her class and served on the Student Council Executive Board. Sister Catherine played on the girls’ varsity basketball team, which predated Title IX, and games occurred in cafeteria style rooms as often as they did in actual gyms. Sister Catherine attended Carnegie Melon University shortly after the science school began accepting women. She left after one year to enter religious life with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After First Profession, she began teaching middle school in parishes in South Philadelphia and Willow Grove. She began her high school teaching career as a chemistry teacher at Cardinal Brennan in Fountain Springs, PA. During her many years in the Harrisburg Diocese, Sister taught and served as an administrator at Bishop McDevitt High School as well as served as president of the Sisters’ Council for the Diocese of Harrisburg. She returned to O’Connell in 2005 and loves working at her alma mater and able to be of service to students, families and faculty. She is looking forward to celebrating O’Connell’s 60th anniversary as a chance to hear all the different stories from all the different decades of O’Connell graduates.

Erin Blakely '00, Catherine Blakely '02 and Allie Blakely (The Pie Sisters)
Young Alumni Award
Successful entrepreneurs, Erin, Catherine and Allie Blakely created the Pie Sisters of Georgetown bakery in the fall of 2010. After living in different cities and pursuing separate careers, a bit of soul searching brought them back to the DC area and doing what they love most, baking. Each of the sisters lends her own distinctive talent and touch making their product and store truly unique and each sister is an integral part of the business operations. The Pie Sisters of Georgetown has been featured in Modern Luxury Magazine and the Washington Post and they have been interviewed on CNN, ABC7, NBC Washington and CNN.

2015 Awardees

Catherine M. Keating '80
Distinguished Alumni Award

Catherine Keating joined Commonfund in 2015 as President and CEO, after nearly two decades at J.P. Morgan, where she was most recently the Head of Investment Management Americas. She is a frequent author and speaker on investment topics, and has been featured in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The Financial Times, and Institutional Investor, among others, and appeared on CNBC, Fox and Bloomberg TV. She has been named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking by US Banker and one of the Most Powerful Women in Finance by American Banker. Catherine is a member of the boards of the Santander Holdings USA, Inc., the Girl Scouts of Greater New York and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund. She is also the immediate past chair of the board of Villanova University. She earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School Of Law and a B.A. from Villanova University.

Catherine provided the commencement address for Bishop O'Connell's class of 2014, where she encouraged graduates to "be known as kind, be known to serve others, and stand up for what is right.” While a student at O’Connell, Catherine was on the staff of the Visor, a member of the Keyettes and NHS and, perhaps foreshadowing her career as a banker, served as her senior class treasurer. She and her husband, Jim and their two children reside in New York.

Frank Fumich ’86
Knights Service Award
Frank Fumich is an endurance athlete who has completed over 70 marathons, numerous full and half IronMan races, and competed in various ultra-marathons, self-supported races and climbing expeditions across the globe. Frank received numerous nominations for the Knights Service award for his efforts fundraising for charities such as Wounded Warriors and he recently undertook the 12 day Race Across America to raise over $100,000 for Ryan Diviney, a young man in a vegetative state who requires around-the-clock care. Additionally, Frank raised over $80,000 for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing by racing between DC and Boston. He recently completed a Triple IM and also a Quintuple IM. During his time at O’Connell, Fumich was on the football team and served in the SCA. He now resides in Arlington, Va. with his family.

Denise Turner-Roth '92
Young Alumni Achievement Award
Denise Turner-Roth is the Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration. Roth arrived at GSA in March 2014, when she assumed the role of Deputy Administrator. In this role, she provided overall organization management that helped improve performance throughout the agency. She worked with individuals at every level of GSA to support the mission and goals of the agency through the use of strategic and performance planning, measurement and analysis and regular assessment of progress and performance data to improve GSA's results. Her 18 year career in public service has also included legislative support for elected officials and she served as the City Manager of Greensboro, N.C. where she was challenged to improve efficiency and service delivery. During her time at Bishop O’Connell, Roth served as SCA president and was a member of the dance team. She and her family live in the D.C. area.

2014 Awardees

Pictured above at the 2014 Alumni Awards Dinner (l to r): Kristin Hughes '00, Ray Zdancewicz '74 and Kevin Callaghan '79.

Kevin Callaghan '79
Distinguished Alumni Award
Kevin Callaghan '79 is a Managing Director at Berkshire Partners LLC, the Boston-based private equity firm he joined in 1987. In addition to several corporate directorships, Kevin is active in a number of community and philanthropic efforts in the Boston area, serving as treasurer and trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and as vice president and trustee of The Meadowbrook School. He served for 12 years on the board of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and has chaired the Stanford GSBTrust, which manages the business school endowment.

Kevin graduated with honors from Princeton University with an engineering degree in 1983 and attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA in 1987. He the oldest of six Callaghan children; his siblings are Brian '80, Shaun, Sheila '82, Maura '84 and Gary '86.

Ray Zdancewicz '74
Knights Service Award

Ray Zdancewicz '74 has been an active member of the Bishop O’Connell community for many years. While a student at O’Connell, he was a standout baseball and football player and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. Ray shared his love of baseball with his sons, Kevin '04, Matthew '05 and Danny '11, who also played baseball at O’Connell. Ray has coached many teams and leagues in the Northern Virginia, and served as the treasurer for the Northern Virginia Junior Catholic Youth Organization (NVJCYO) for over 30 years.

Ray is vice president for corporate services at Abacus Technology, a government consulting firm. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia in systems engineering. He is a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna, where he served on the Pastoral Council for many years. In December of 2011, he received the St. Thomas More Award for Youth Ministry from the Diocese of Arlington.

Kristin Hughes '00
Young Alumni Award
Kristin Hughes ’00 is a senior manager for the Global Community Health Programs at Special Olympics. Through the Global Health Initiative, Special Olympics partners with international organizations such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to bring needed education and services to disadvantaged athletes worldwide. Kristin has also served in various government positions focusing on public health policy including at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and at the White House Office of Policy focusing on disabilities and AIDS. In her spare time, Kristin teaches Sunday school and coaches a 5th grade girls basketball team.

Kristin received her B.A. in International Relations from Bucknell University and earned an MBA in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.

2013 Awardees

Pictured above at the 2013 Alumni Achievement Awards Dinner (l to r): James Zumwalt '00, Julia Wentzel Wharton '85 and Scott Wilson '87.

Scott Wilson ‘87
Distinguished Alumni Award
Scott Wilson is the founder and principal designer of Chicago-based MINIMAL. His creative work in industrial design was recognized last year through the prestigious National Design Award by Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which honors excellence, innovation and lasting achievement in American design. Wilson is a former design leader at Nike, Thomson Consumer Electronics, IDEO, Fortune Brands, and Motorola, and has created some of the world’s most recognized consumer design icons. With creative projects that span industries from technology, consumer products, fashion, furniture and much more, he has been described as "equal parts visionary designer and serial entrepreneur."

Wilson’s work has been recognized with more than sixty international design awards and has been exhibited at Cooper-Hewitt, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been featured in publications such as ID Magazine’s Top 40, TIME Magazine’s Style+Design100, WIRED Magazine and Fast Company’s Masters of Design, where he was named one of their 50 Most Influential Designers in America.

Julia Wentzel Wharton ‘85
Knights Service Award
In 2003, when the only Catholic elementary school in Blacksburg, Va. closed its doors due to financial issues. Julia Wentzel Wharton—a mother of four young girls—rallied the community and established a new Catholic school for the New River Valley area. Renting a space in a vacant public school building, Wharton used her ties with schools in the Diocese of Arlington to solicit contributions of furniture, materials, supplies, donations and prayers. She took no salary as director for the first five years to help the school get on its feet. Today, St. John Neumann Academy has 107 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and 10 teachers. It has outgrown its rental space, and Wharton dreams of building a larger facility on their own piece of land and someday adding a high school.

James Zumwalt ‘00
Young Alumni Achievement Award
James Zumwalt, was awarded the Bronze Star at a ceremony in Washington last summer. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) presented former Navy Lt. Zumwalt with the medal, noting his “exceptionally meritorious service” in Iraq in 2010 with a Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team. Zumwalt served two tours in Iraq with EOD teams, who were often vulnerable to explosives and sniper fire. He now works for a government contractor in the Washington area

2012 Awardees

Pictured (from left to right) at the 2012 awards dinner: Principal Joe Vorbach '83, Kevin Fay '73, Paola Egge Pizzano' 81, Bob Pizzano '81 and Amanda Renaghan Taylor '94.

Kevin J. Fay ’73
Distinguished Alumni Award

Kevin Fay is an alumnus, a past parent and a tireless advocate and volunteer for Bishop O’Connell, having served as chairman of the Board of Governors from 2006 through 2011. He is the President of Alcalde & Fay, and is an internationally recognized specialist on environmental and energy issues with particular emphasis on governmental policies involving the atmosphere and climate. In his spare time, he has devoted countless hours to promoting and fundraising important community efforts, from the McLean Little League to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where he is being honored this year with the James L. Eichberg Lifetime Achievment Award.

Bob and Paola (Egge) Pizzano ’81
Knights Service Award
In addition to running a contracting business, Bob and Paola Pizzano have raised a wonderful family and dedicated themselves to making a difference in the lives of children with developmental challenges. Through the Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund (JPMF) and in conjunction with the Fairfax County Park Foundation and the Virginia Board of People with Disabilities, the Pizzanos spearheaded the opening of Our Special Harbor, a 7,000-square-foot, zero-water-depth “sprayground” in Franconia. In addition, their foundation provides funding and classes for water safety education for families of children with disabilities.

Amanda Renaghan Taylor ’94
Young Alumni Award
Amanda Taylor started out as an inner-city teacher, who quickly recognized some inequities in the public school system. While building a career in school administration, she has been working with a team of doctoral candidates at Harvard University to bring light to the productive work of community organizers in improving at-risk schools, and addressing achievement gaps based on race in schools around the country.

2011 Awardees

Pictured (from left to right) at the 2011 awards dinner: Candy Cage, Laura Tartaro-McGowen, Grace Abi Najm Shea, Nancy Koons, Joe Koons, and former O'Connell President Katy Prebble.

Joe and Nancy Koons ('64 and '65)
Distinguished Alumni Award

The name Koons and Bishop O’Connell just go hand-in-hand. There have been members of the Koons family filling these halls since the school opened in 1957. With 18 grandchildren, there is no doubt that there will be more Koons to come! Joe and Nancy Koons have been showing off their Knights’ spirit ever since their first days here as students. Of course Joe and Nancy have been great financial supporters to O’Connell but their love of DJO goes beyond the dollar amount. You cannot keep them away from O’Connell nor would you ever want to. There is a certain joy that comes across from Joe and Nancy when they are in the midst of anything O’Connell. It can’t be duplicated or imitated but once you see it, you wish you had some of it yourself!

Laura Tartaro- McGowan '75
Knights Service Award

Laura Tartaro-McGowan has been bleeding blue since she started at O'Connell in the early 1970s. A 1975 graduate of DJO, Laura didn't stray too far, sending both her children to her alma mater. Laura herself became more involved in her school once again, serving as PTO board member from 2007-2010. During this time, she also served as a parent moderator for Earth Day and the Going Green Campaign. In 2009, she was elected PTO president and while in that position she started the mini-grants program for the DJO faculty. Outside of her contributions to the O'Connell community, Laura has been an RN in the INOVA Health System for 30 years, serving both as the Director of Same Day Surgery at Alexandiria Hospital and the INOVA Home Health Care Manager, a position she currently holds.

Jason Cage '95
Knights Service Award
Jason loves DJO and DJO loves him right back. Jason has been battling Cystic Fibrosis for over 33 years. His appearances at Superdance assemblies are too numerous to count, and each time he inspires the students assembled with his motivation and perseverance. Since 2008, Jason has been living with only one lung, which has been deteriorating slowly. He somehow managed to continue with his job as a paramedic and he continued to take the time to come back to O'Connell each year. In 2011, Jason underwent a complicated surgery and he received a new lung at Duke Medical Center.

Grace Abi Najm Shea '93
Young Alumni Achievement Award
Grace Abi-Najm Shea is truly inspiring. Somehow, she helps run the six Lebanese Taverna Restaurants and four Lebanese Taverna Cafes that her family started in 1979, while balancing her own life filled with kids and philanthropy to various organizations, including Bishop O'Connell. Her parents are Lebanese refugees who came to the area in the late 1970s and eventually opened up Lebanese Taverna--now one of the best-known Lebanese restaurants in the Washington area. All of their children have been active in the business and one trip to their web site will show you what an amazing family they are. Grace manages their public relations and has been a generous supporter of the DJO community over the years, contributing to our galas, golf tournaments and the annual fund. Last spring, Grace donated her hair as part of O'Connell's Be Brave and Shave cancer awareness event. Grace is a graduate of the class of 1993.