The Seton award is NCEA’s highest honor, given in recognition of significant philanthropic, leadership or service contributions to Catholic education. The award is named in honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native-born American saint. The President’s award is given by NCEA to recognize special leaders in the field of education.
The Seton awardees represent the Dioceses of Orange and Pittsburgh, and the Archdioceses of Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle. The President’s award recipients reside in the Archdiocese of New York.
Art and Gaye Birtcher, Diocese of Orange
Photos: Art Birtcher and Gaye Birtcher
Art and Gayle Birtcher have been major benefactors to the Diocese of Orange in California. In 1997, Mr. Birtcher co-chaired the campaign to build Santa Margarita Catholic High School and the couple later funded renovation of the St. Margaret Mary Alacoque chapel at the school. They co-chaired the construction committee and were benefactors for the new Mission San Juan Capistrano Parish elementary school.
Together they headed the capital campaign to construct the Sacred Heart Retreat Center, which is visited by 12,000 children each year. They were the founders and sole benefactors of two “Rely on Christ” conferences for more than 5,000 youth of the diocese.
Many of their philanthropic efforts have been directed to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, California’s most historic mission. Mr. Birtcher led the campaign to build the new mission basilica in 1982 and in 1985 the couple donated the mission bells for the basilica’s bell tower. In 2003 they funded renovation of the historic rectory of the mission. In 2005 they began the design, installation and funding of the 40-foot tall, gold Baroque 18th century grand retablo in the basilica.
Mrs. Birtcher is a founder of the Camino Health Center, an outreach ministry of Mission Regional Hospital. The Birtchers also support Birth Choice, five anti-abortion, full service health clinics and two homes for pregnant women in crisis.
Mr. Birtcher is chairman of Birtcher/Anderson Realty, a 70-year old national real estate, advisory and management company. He is a past member of the board of directors of the University of San Diego and the Papal Foundation, and current member of the board for the Orange Catholic Foundation, Servite High School and Mount St. Mary College. Mrs. Birtcher served on the Mount St. Mary College board of regents.
The Birtchers live in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Dean and Mary Calland, Diocese of Pittsburgh
Photo: Dean and Mary Calland
Dean and Mary Calland have an admirable track record of helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds graduate from high school and enter college.
Mr. Calland is president of the board of the Crossroads Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk inner-city youth graduate from high schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Through the foundation the Callands have made significant personal donations to provide four-year scholarships for students of Catholic elementary schools to attend seven of the area’s high schools.
The couple were catalysts for the Crossroads campaign to raise $6.5 million. They are delighted about the work that is being done by Crossroads. Mr. Calland noted, "For a modest investment of about $26,000 per child over four years, Crossroads achieves extraordinary educational and psychosocial outcomes. We take teenagers with huge risk factors in their lives and get them focused on academics, require them to volunteer in their communities, teach them to be leaders and set them on the pathway to college and career.”
The Callands reside in Pittsburgh. Mr. Calland is a founding shareholder in the Environmental Health and Safety Services Group of Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir.
The Callands have five children who are attending or have attended Catholic colleges and universities.
Jack and Eileen Connors, Archdiocese of Boston
Photo: Jack and Eileen Connors
Jack and Eileen Connors are grateful for the impact that Catholic education had on their lives and they wanted to help others have their lives influenced in the same way. That’s why they accepted Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s invitation to head the Archdiocese of Boston’s Campaign for Catholic Schools.
The Connors gathered leaders from different communities„Ÿbusiness, academia and philanthropy„Ÿto raise money to keep Catholic education affordable to all, especially for the poor and the newly arrived. The campaign is raising more than $90 million for projects leading to higher teaching and learning standards, increased enrollment and improved student achievement. They include renovating school buildings; updating curriculum; purchasing new texts, supplies, and technology; and adding new programs such as art, music, band, drama and programs for the gifted and talented.
Many of the schools that now are thriving would have closed had the Connors not provided their leadership skills or resources to the Campaign for Catholic Schools. Because of its success, the campaign serves as an example for other Catholic dioceses facing similar challenges.
The Connors reside in Brookline, Massachusetts. Mr. Connors is founding partner and chairman of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, one of the leading advertising agencies in the United States. Mrs. Connors is co-chair of the advisory board of the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. Both are graduates of Boston College. They recently gave $10 million to Boston College to help establish the Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover.
John Luger, Archdiocese of Seattle
Photo: John Luger
John Luger has been a champion of Catholic education over the years. His leadership and financial support made possible a new $84 million campus for Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington. He was the driving force and catalyst behind the project and led a campaign that raised $40 million to relocate the school, which opened its new 50-acre campus in September 2008. Mr. Luger has been the backbone of strong Catholic board leadership at Eastside Catholic.
Mr. Luger was also instrumental in supporting the Fulcrum Foundation in the Arcdiocese of Seattle. The foundation ensures that Catholic schools remain strong and affordable by providing tuition assistance to deserving families, by helping schools in need and by fostering initiatives to promote academic excellence. This year he chaired the foundation’s annual gala fundraiser.
Mr. Luger is incoming chairman of the Gonzaga University board of trustees and also serves on the University of Oregon’s Charles Lundquist College of Business advisory council.
Since the sale of Data Base, Inc. a company he founded, Mr. Luger has been involved in many other philanthropic causes, mostly in the area of private education
Allen Lund and Kathleen Lund, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Photo: Allen and Kathleen Lund
Allen and Kathleen Lund believe in Catholic education at all levels. They support grade schools, high schools, colleges, universities and parish religious education programs in the West.
Mr. Lund is chair of the board of regents of the University of Portland. The couple recently funded construction of a bell tower next to the university’s chapel.
Mr. Lund is a member of the board of the Catholic Education Foundation in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which gives millions of dollars to inner-city Catholic schools. He currently serves as board chair of St. Francis High School in La Canada, Calif. Mrs. Lund has been a leading advocate in pro-life causes.
The couple established the Lund Family Scholarship that benefits St. Francis High School and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy students attending the University of Portland. Together they have volunteered countless hours and provided financial support to the Catholic elementary and high schools attended by their six children. The next generation of 22 grandchildren is now enrolled in Catholic schools.
Mr. Lund is president and CEO of the Allen Lund Company, a transportation and logistics provider he has owned and operated since 1976. The Lunds live in La Canada, Calif.
Jerry Semler, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Photo: Jerry Semler
Jerry Semler is an accomplished businessman who cares deeply about his community of Indianapolis, Indiana. His philanthropic efforts have touched the inner-city, his customer’s health and Catholic education in general. He sees all of these as inextricably linked and believes education is vital to helping people of all economic levels achieve a better life.
Mr. Semler has served as chairman of the Catholic Community Foundation for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, where he has been a tireless advocate and fundraiser for inner-city Catholic elementary schools. He has chaired or co-chaired all of the capital campaigns for the last 20 years and has served on the boards of more than 20 church-related charitable and civic organizations.
At Marian University in Indianapolis, Mr. Semler and his wife, Rosie, serve as co-chairs for “Make History,” a comprehensive fundraising campaign to advance the university’s mission of excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts tradition. The Jerry and Rosemary Semler Endowed Chair for Ethics in Business and the Professions was established in their honor at the university.
He began his career with American United Life (now parent of OneAmeican Financial Partners) in 1959 and worked his way up from management trainee to president and CEO. He is now chairman emeritus of the American United Mutual Insurance Holding Company.
Frank Sadlier Dinger and William Sadlier Dinger, Archdiocese of New York
Photos: Frank Dinger and William Dinger
The President’s Award will be presented to Frank and William Dinger for their impact on both religious and school publishing and specifically for their lifelong support of religious education. Through their support of dioceses and bishops and their interest in bi-lingual publishing, they have had a significant impact on the way religion is taught today. Their academic texts, particularly their math program, also have enriched the education of students across the nation.
They have shown unwavering generosity as corporate sponsors of NCEA.
The brothers are chairman of the board and president, respectively, of William H.
Sadlier, Inc., the New York-based educational publishing firm. They are great-grandsons of William H. Sadlier, whose uncle founded the Sadlier Company in 1832. Both men are graduates of the University of Notre Dame.
Frank Dinger began his career in 1964 as a purchasing agent in Sadlier’s manufacturing department. Subsequently, he became director of the art and production department, comptroller, treasurer and chief operating office. He has been a member of the board of directors since 1975. Frank and his wife, Bea, live in Larchmont, New York.
William Dinger joined the firm in 1963 and has been a sales representative, sales manager, director of marketing and national sales manager. He joined the board of directors in 1975. He resides in New York City with his wife Maureen.
Earlier this year the two brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Association of Educational Publishers.
Note to editors:
Each Seton honoree has designated a "Seton scholar" to receive a scholarship. For press releases on the scholars, go to /news/pressrelease/ and look for the release on Seton Scholars.