NCEA Honors Recipients of the 2023 President's Awards and Two Lifetime Awards

The NCEA 2023 President’s Awards will be presented to five honorees at the annual NCEA 2023 Convention in Dallas/Irving, TX. This year, two NCEA Lifetime Commitment Awards also will be presented.

Arlington, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will present the President’s Awards at the NCEA 2023 Convention to five individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to Catholic education. Given in honor of past NCEA presidents, the 2023 honorees demonstrate change and inspiration to further the mission of Catholic education. The NCEA Lifetime Commitment Awards are new in 2023 to recognize individuals who over a career have advanced the mission of Catholic education.

NCEA President/CEO Lincoln Snyder said of the awardees, “Catholic schools excel because excellent people give it their all to love them into being. We are humbled by the Christian witness this year’s honorees offer to their Catholic school communities.”

The NCEA President’s Awards are five awards bestowed in the names of individuals and organizations who display the significant virtues of contribution, support, leadership and development to impact Catholic school education in the United States.

The C. Albert Koob Merit Award is given to an individual or organization that has made a meaningful contribution to Catholic education at any level in teaching, administration, parish religious education, research, publication or educational leadership. Elizabeth Stewart Goettl, president and CEO of Cristo Rey Network in Chicago, IL, is the honoree of this award for 2023.

Ms. Goettl is a career educator with extensive academic and administrative leadership experience. From 2014-2017, she served as chief academic officer of the LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago. She was the Network's founding chief academic officer, from 2009-2014, elevating the academic rigor across the Network through the design and implementation of the organization's proprietary college-ready curriculum.

Aad de Lange, chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will receive the Msgr. John F. Meyers Award, presented to an individual who has provided substantial support for Catholic education through contributions in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations.

He most notably promoted growth for Catholic schools in the areas of development, scholarships and tuition assistance for students and for various capital improvements.

The Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award is presented to an individual or institution that offers exceptional leadership in promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs. Erika Gallardo is the 2023 recipient of this award.

Ms. Gallardo is the Hispanic engagement and outreach manager for the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she has worked for more than 20 years most recently in the Office of Catholic Schools as part of the School Specialist Team. Before working in the school's office, Gallardo was a human resources manager overseeing 101 parishes and 53 schools.

The Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award honors a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education. John Schoenig, from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and senior director of teacher formation and education policy for the University of Notre Dame, Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), is the awardee for 2023.

In this role, he leads the ACE Teaching Fellows Program - the largest provider of Catholic school teaching talent in the United States - and its Program for Educational Access (PEA), an advocacy and leadership formation enterprise that helps develop and implement policy that expands financial access to faith-based schools.

Assumption High School, Louisville, KY, Archdiocese of Louisville, is the recipient of the Dr. Karen M. Ristau Innovations Award which is given to an individual, school or program that has furthered the mission of Catholic education through an innovative program or approach.

Assumption thrives as the college preparatory school of choice for young women by providing a wide range of educational and co-curricular programs that are complemented by spiritual and physical development opportunities. This unique experience educates the whole person in a caring, Christian environment that is permeated with the charism of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.

Gwendolyn P. Byrd and Michael J. Deegan are the honorees for the NCEA Lifetime Commitment Awards. New in 2023, this award is for recognition of achievements over an entire career rather than or in addition to any single contribution to further the mission of Catholic education in the United States.

Ms. Byrd is superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Mobile. She joined the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools for the archdiocese as curriculum coordinator. Six years later, she was named superintendent. She has successfully led the schools in the archdiocese through a time of great change. In 2009, she was named executive director of Catholic education in addition to her role as superintendent.

Mr. Deegan has been the superintendent of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York since 2019 and was deputy superintendent from 2013. He has served the Church in Catholic education for almost forty years, teaching at every level from elementary through college and was a Catholic school principal for twenty years. In 2004, Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, appointed Mr. Deegan director of Inner-City Schools to work with the 122 elementary and secondary inner-city schools of the archdiocese.

You can read about the President’s Awards and the NCEA Lifetime Commitment Awards on the NCEA website.

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by convening all stakeholders and providing professional development, data, advocacy and resources to support faith and intellectual formation.