Alumni Achievement Awards

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.
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 or call 703-237-1446.

Meet Our 2019 Awardees

John J. Brough II '82 - Distinguished Alumni
Lauren Maestranzi Liess '00 - Young Alumni Award
Michael Garcia '76 - Knights Service Award
Read more about our 2019 honorees...


Previous Honorees by Year

2018 Awardees

Alumni Achievement Award Winners 2018

T. Michael Harrington, MD '68
Distinguished Alumni Award

As a 1968 graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School, T. Michael Harrington, MD (Mike) celebrates his 50th high school reunion this year.  His memories of O'Connell include participation in intramural, JV and varsity athletics, Inner City mentoring, NHS, Officials Club and Student Council, as well as good friends and sound academics. 

Entering as a named “Notre Dame Scholar,” Mike went on to pursue a degree in pre-professional studies at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to participating in an annual charity boxing tournament, the Bengal Bouts (benefiting the Holy Cross Bangladesh Missions), Mike played intramural sports, the highlight of which was his Dillon Hall football team being campus champions his junior and senior years. There Mike also met his future wife, Kathleen Fleege (St. Mary’s College), and has continued an active relationship with the University through the Alumni Association on local, regional and national levels. He was elected to the National Notre Dame Alumni Association Board in 1988 and NDAA President in 1991-92, when he also served on the Notre Dame Board of Trustees.  For his continuing tradition of service, he received the Notre Dame Exemplar Award in 1997.

Mike’s medical training began at the University of Virginia School of Medicine on a Navy scholarship where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.  He chose to continue training in Family Medicine, a relatively new specialty back in 1976 building on the long tradition of general practice.  Internship and residency followed at the Naval Aerospace and Regional Medical Center in Pensacola, Florida where he was elected Chief Resident. Mike served a total of eight years active duty in the United States Navy, with tours in Pensacola and Bremerton, Wash. 

Upon discharge from the Navy in 1984, he was recruited to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Family and Community Medicine as Medical Director. He was named Chairman of the Department in 1991, a position he filled for 25 years.  Concerned about the lack of access to primary medical care in a state that still has a county without a physician, Mike engaged in organized medicine on local and state levels and was elected to leadership positions, including President of several organizations: Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Jefferson County Medical Society, and Medical Association of the State of Alabama.  During his career, Mike was very active teaching medical students and residents, doing clinical care, and advocating for primary care services for all citizens of Alabama, especially in underserved areas.  For many consecutive years, including this past year, Dr. Harrington’s peers selected him as one of the state’s best doctors. He retired in 2017 and was named a Professor Emeritus by University Trustees.   

Mike celebrates his 45th wedding anniversary with Kathy this October. They a have two grown children, Michael and Kirsten, and three young grandchildren.  He now spends his time traveling, visiting family and friends, and sailing on the Gulf of Mexico.   

Kevin R. Harrington, MD '68
Distinguished Alumni Award

Kevin Kerrigan graduated from Bishop O'Connell High School in 1968.   He received the Student-Athlete Award that year.  Thirty years later, he was honored by with induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame for his prowess in wrestling.

Kevin matriculated at the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated in 1972.  There he continued his pursuit of excellence, attaining the Dean’s List and winning his weight class in the Bengal Bouts boxing tournament three years in a row. Upon graduation from Notre Dame, Kevin was accepted for medical studies at the University of South Florida. During an elective in Tropical Medicine in Ecuador, Kevin met Leslie, the love of his life and marriage partner for the past 43 years.  Kevin and Leslie documented the remarkable events of their courtship in their jointly authored book, Searching Heart, Testing Mind.

Kevin received his postgraduate education in surgery at Emory University and San Diego Naval Regional Medical Center and then entered active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps as Ship’s Surgeon, USS Ranger (CV-61). Upon completion of his active duty obligation, Kevin began his missionary medical career as the only surgeon at a remote hospital in the Amazon Rain Forest. During six years of service, Kevin published more than half a dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals on various subjects having to do with venomous snakebites and other surgical complications of tropical diseases.

In the early 1990s, Kevin and his wife and their five children moved from Ecuador to the Great Rift Valley of Kenya where Kevin continued his experience of surgical care in developing nations.  Throughout the 1990’s and the 2000’s the Kerrigans facilitated a half dozen trips back to Ecuador and Kenya in the company of medical students and other individuals with an interest in ministering to indigent people groups.  The majority of these trips involved further education of doctors at various levels of training.  

Following two years of serving at the Kijabe Medical Centre, Kevin re-entered active duty in the Navy Medical Corps and served for 12 of the next 14 years at the Charleston Naval Hospital. In 1997, Kevin obtained the rank of Captain in the U. S. Navy and in the same year was awarded the American Medical Association’s Doctor Nathan Davis Award for “the promotion of the art and science of medicine and the betterment of the public health” for his outstanding service in Ecuador and Kenya.

Upon retirement from the U. S. Navy Medical Corps, the Kerrigans resumed their missionary medical service.  Over the ensuing 10 years, they served on multiple occasions in Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Iraq.  In addition to providing surgical coverage, Kevin and Leslie were often involved in the further education of national co-workers.

Joe Schwartz, MD '98
Young Alumni Award

Joe Schwartz graduated from O’Connell in 1998, played football for Doc Crotty and Darryl Snyder, and was one of the founding members of the crew team under Al Burch. A handful of his favorite teachers include Mrs. Cerniglia, Mr. Cools, Col. Clark, Dr. Galvert, Mr. Connolly, Sister Maureen Christopher, and Fr. Luis to name a few. Of course Mr. Iacobucci made PE entertaining. He is proud to be a local Eagle Scout with St. Agnes’ Troop 111.

He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, VCU’s School of Public Health, New York Medical College, and served seven years as a Navy Flight Surgeon, including a memorable assignment as the flight surgeon for the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. He and his wife Susan, a Rehoboth native, are raising three sons in Front Royal where Susan is a marketing executive and Joe is in training in Family Medicine, as well as carrying out his duties as a Reserve Flight Surgeon. Faith and family are their priorities.

Melissa Ortiz-Munoz '94
Knights Service Award

Melissa Ortiz-Munoz is a senior vice president and business control manager for Bank of America’s consumer and small business anti-money laundering efforts.  She earned the 2018 President’s Volunteer Service Award which acknowledges Bank of America employees who volunteered, recorded and confirmed more than 200 volunteer hours in their community.

Melissa serves as the co-chair for the Greater Washington DC Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement (HOLA) at Bank of America, is a member of Women in Technology & Operations (WIT&O) and is a member of the Washington Area Alumni Business Alliance (WAABA) for the College of William and Mary. She lives in Springfield, Va. and also gives tirelessly to the Holy Spirit Catholic Church’s PTO, formerly as their vice president for membership, and currently as the PTO president.  Additionally, she is actively involved as service hour coordinator for American Heritage Girls Troop 0683.

Melissa earned her MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her BBA in marketing from the College of William and Mary. She is an inventor for “Secure Connection between a Data Repository and an Intelligence Application,” granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2016.

2017 Awardees


Robert Murphy '67
Distinguished Alumni Award

Robert Murphy was named Vice President of Administration of ABC News in September, 2007. He played key roles in the re-launch of Nightline and in organizing the 2008 political coverage. Recently, Mr. Murphy has helped lead the effort to transform ABC News into an efficient fully digital multiplatform organization strategically positioned to adjust and grow through the evolution and changes in the way news and information is consumed. He reports directly to the President of ABC News.

Bob was named senior vice president, multimedia in March, 2000. He was responsible for transforming ABC News from a traditional broadcast news organization to a high-quality, digital newsgathering organization, producing news program content on a variety of platforms, including broadcast, cable, internet, broadband and wireless. Additionally he oversaw, ABC News Radio and ABC NewsOne, the affiliate news service of ABC News.

A 41-year veteran of ABC News, Bob was senior vice president for Hard News for ABC News since January, 1993. He had editorial, operational and budget responsibilities for Hard News operations of the division. In this capacity Mr. Murphy was responsible for all news coverage, ABC News bureaus, “World News Tonight,” “World News Now,” “World News This Morning,” weekend news, NewsOne, radio news, special events and political coverage. He joined ABC News in April, 1976, on the Washington bureau's assignment desk, becoming its manager in March, 1978. He was named deputy Washington bureau chief in January, 1980, and served in that capacity through April, 1981, when he moved to New York as director of television news coverage. He served as vice president of television news coverage from 1984 until his appointment to senior vice president.

Prior to joining ABC News, Mr. Murphy was a staff assistant to Congressman Peter Rodino for the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon from October, 1973, to October, 1974. He was assistant superintendent of the House of Representatives' Radio and TV gallery from October, 1974, to April, 1976.

Mr. Murphy is a 1971 graduate of Fairfield University on whose Board of Trustees he currently sits. He holds a Master's degree in business administration from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Michael Hayden '74
Knights Service Award

Mike Hayden is being honored with a Knights Service Awards for his long standing service to the O’Connell community and his parish St. Philip/St. Anthony.

Throughout his storied volunteer career, Mike has served in at all levels and in nearly all aspects of parish life. In addition to coaching soccer from the kindergarten to second grade level, Mike served on the St. Philip Parish Council and as the St. Philip PTO President. He was the St. Philip/St. Anthony School Reorganization Committee co-chair and co-authored the organizational documents including the mission statement and bylaws during the formation of Corpus Christi School.

He served as the first Chairman of the School Board for Corpus Christi School and also served on the Bishop O’Connell School Board. He worked closely with the administration to craft the first O’Connell Strategic Plan and Vision statements.

In his professional life, Mike is currently the Senior Director, IS&T Food & Retail Systems for Sodexo USA and has worked in various capacities at Dynamic Analytics and Test, Pristine InfoTech, and IS&T Food & Retail Systems for Giant Food.

While at O’Connell, Mike lettered in football, wrestling and track. He is married to fellow O’Connell alum, Julie Naylor Hayden, and together they have four children, Melissa, Jeremy, Benjamin and Vincent.

Christine Salvador '95
Knights Service Award

Christine (Chrissy) Salvador was born in Washington, DC and raised in Northern Virginia. Growing up in Herndon, she attended St. Joseph School and was a graduate of the Bishop O'Connell Class of 1995.

During her time at O'Connell, Chrissy participated in several extra-curricular activities. She was most proud of being a four-year member of the Royalette Dance Team, a two-year officer and holding the position of captain her senior year.

She became the Assistant Coach of the Royalettes in 1999 and then the Head Coach in December 2000. In 2009, Chrissy was selected for the Exceptional Coaches Award at the Universal Dance Association camp the dance team attended that summer. O'Connell named her the 2014-2015 Coach of the Year, and appointed her the Director of Spirit Teams overseeing the dance team and cheerleading programs later that year.

In addition to coaching, Chrissy is one of O'Connell's Alumni Advocates. She is a proud 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Chrissy interned and continued her career with the Hyatt Hotel Corporation for six years as a manager in the food and beverage department at multiple properties. After Hyatt, she worked for O'Connell's Advancement Office as the Director of Constituent Relations for two years. She continued serving on the Gala & Auction committee, and chaired the event in 2010 for its 10th Anniversary.

Since 2008, Chrissy has worked for the Greater Washington Board of Trade. She was their Director of Meetings & Events for eight years overseeing the organization's 150+ events and is currently their Director of Marketing & Sponsorship. Chrissy currently lives in Arlington, Va. Her parents, brother and sister, Leah Salvador ’97 and their families are all still local. She is a proud aunt of four and an honored godmother to seven.

Dante Schiavo, MD '01
Young Alumni Award

Dr. Dante Schiavo is a 2001 graduate of O’Connell High School, where he was a National Honor Society student and semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship. He was a third-line winger for the inaugural varsity ice hockey team in 1998 and collected the first two penalty minutes in school history in a win over Paul VI. He would go on to earn three varsity letters and, with his twin brother Matt, was a member of the 2000 squad that beat DeMatha for the first time in school history.

He attended the College of William & Mary and graduated in 2005 with a bachelor of science in biology with an emphasis on zoology. While at William and Mary, he was a Dean’s List student and helped start Student Activism in the Fight Against AIDS, a student-run organization to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and raise philanthropic funds to support local AIDS clinics.

Dante attended The Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University on a Dean’s Merit Scholarship from 2005-2009. He was elected to the Honor Council, medical-school Admissions Committee, and was the student coordinator of Crossover Clinic, a free clinic providing medical care to indigent patients in Richmond, VA. At graduation, he was awarded the Dr. James N. Cooper Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine by VCU School of Medicine and the Inova Fairfax Hospital Department of Medicine.

Dante went on to complete graduate medical education at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, finishing residency in 2012 and fellowship in 2015. Since then, he has been on faculty in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical-Care Medicine at Mayo Clinic, the US News and World Reports #1-ranked department in the country. There, he has both research and clinical duties and cares for patients with lung cancer, asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases, as well as critically-ill patients in the intensive-care unit.

As faculty at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Schiavo received 2017 “Teacher of the Year” and “Clinician of the Year” in pulmonary and critical-care medicine, as voted by Mayo Clinic residents and fellows.

Dr. Schiavo is an avid hiker, golfer, and sports fan and has endured many highs and lows over the past 20 years of rooting for the Redskins, Orioles, and Nationals.

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.