Woman of the Year

The Woman of the Year program at Ursuline Academy began in 1986 as part of the school’s 90th anniversary celebration to recognize and honor outstanding alumnae.

Numerous Ursuline graduates have distinguished themselves in careers as varied as health care, the arts and sciences, education, business, and countless other fields. Just as important to the Ursuline tradition are those alumnae who have lived lives of service to their families, church, and community. All of these achievements are deserving of recognition and are cause for great pride on the part of everyone associated with Ursuline Academy.

Kelly Dehan '79 is 2016 Woman of the Year

Mind. Body. Soul. These are the words around which Kelly Dehan centers her life, nurturing each, maintaining a deep faith.

As a member of Ursuline’s Class of 1979, Kelly learned the importance of this balance, being challenged by her teachers who, in her words, would insist on a student’s best, and offer the encouragement needed to get the best. These challenges instilled a confidence in Kelly and her classmates, showing them that as young women, they did not have to limit themselves.

Kelly has stretched and expanded her mind throughout her very successful career. After graduating from Ursuline, Kelly attended Boston College for two years, and then finished her degree in transportation management at the University of Cincinnati. She began working at Besl Transport in 1984, where her father Robert served as the Chief Executive. Kelly worked in every department of Besl, learning the ins and outs of the business. Working closely with her father, Kelly gained an appreciation for his approach to management: shake off the small stuff; trust your gut; be human, but command respect.

Kelly and her brother Mike bought Besl Transport from their father in the 90s, and successfully ran it together until they sold it in 2013. Kelly thrived as a manager, realizing that in any business, people are your biggest assets. Kelly’s approach was to bring good people into the business and empower them with the authority to make decisions. Her brother Mike told us that when you work with Kelly, you’re part of her family.

Her success as a woman business owner led Kelly to encourage other women as they pursue their careers. Kelly was a beloved speaker at Ursuline’s 2011 Symposium Day, talking with students about her career path and answering questions about life after Ursuline. Ursuline’s 2010 Woman of the Year and Kelly’s classmate, Becky Buehler Catino ‘79, served as the moderator for Kelly’s Symposium panel.

“Kelly is a true, true Ursuline supporter and is the first to build up another Ursuline alum,” Becky said. “She is sincere, smart, kind, accomplished, and warm. And with all of her wonderful qualities, she is the first to compliment someone else.”

Kelly also uses her experience in the business world through her service as a SCORE mentor with Bad Girl Ventures, an organization that creates opportunities for female entrepreneurs through education, developing connections, and by giving access to capital.

Throughout her adult life, Kelly has come to appreciate the importance of challenging one’s body. After selling her business, Kelly began running marathons, completing three full marathons in 2013, and several more since then. Kelly has traveled the country to participate in marathons, and sees exercise and physical activity as an important part of living a full life. She gains inspiration from her mother Judith, who at 75 is still teaching at the University of Cincinnati, staying active and living her best life.

And finally, soul. Kelly feeds her soul in many ways, giving back to her community with genuine effort, skill, and dedication to her neighbors. Kelly’s brother Kevin said of his sister “I’ve never met anyone with a bigger or kinder heart than my sister. God certainly had a big smile on His face the day He created Kelly.”

Kelly is a very involved contributor to the United Way of Greater Cincinnati as a member of the Tocqueville Society. Kelly has also been a member of St. Cecilia’s St. Vincent de Paul Conference for 14 years, visiting neighbors, seeing and assessing their needs, and praying with them.

Kelly’s dedication to her alma mater is broad and meaningful. Kelly has generously supported Ursuline’s Ultimate Auction for many years, and is a favorite and regular face at alumnae events throughout the year. Kelly believes in the forward thinking happening at Ursuline, and is proud of the work being done to ensure that our students have a powerful culture of learning. She even works to ensure that a spirit of giving back lives on at Ursuline, by speaking with students about the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the institutions that make you the person you are.

This service to her community, Kelly says, feeds her soul, and strengthens her faith. As a student at Ursuline, Kelly remembers learning from Sister Joan to keep your faith at your center, and in her effort to do this, Kelly has made Ursuline and our community a better place.

Award Criteria

Each year, Ursuline Academy presents the Woman of the Year Award to a deserving graduate. This award, the highest honor bestowed on an alumna, is presented each October at the President’s dinner.

To be considered for this honor, a candidate must be an alumna of Ursuline Academy who:

  • has made significant contributions to the advancement of Ursuline Academy, to her life’s work and to the community.
  • has built on the foundation of her Ursuline Academy education to make her presence felt in the world.
  • serves as a source of pride among Ursuline alumnae and an inspiration for current and future generations of Ursuline students.
  • has brought honor to herself and her alma mater.

Previous Women of the Year

Woman of the Year Honorees

Below are but a few of the thousands of remarkable women whose Ursuline education laid a foundation for lives of service, scholarship, accomplishment and imagination.

2015Stephanie Sudbrack-Busam '76, leader in the real estate industry, active community volunteer, loyal alumna, proud parent, generous supporter of Ursuline


Dianne Kreuzman Hill ‘73, champion of youth, volunteer, served Ursuline as a Board Member and Committee Chair


Tamara Kearney Lanier '95, business leader, marketing professional, served Ursuline as a Board Member and Committee Chair


Sue McDonald Clarke '63, volunteer, generous supporter, loyal alumna


Dorothy "Puck" Donovan Schoettmer Stockle '46, business woman, homemaker, ambassador for Ursuline


Becky Buehler Catino '79, entrepreneur, philanthropist, homemaker


Sr. Phyllis Kemper '67, BSN, MSN, parish nurse in Over the Rhine and Fairmount. Beth Chapman Chance '98, teacher who was responsible for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" for the Aker family in Cincinnati


Mary Lou Dulle Boylan '45, musician, volunteer


Susie Keating Lame '76, volunteer


Janine Melink-Hueber '73, business woman, volunteer and founder of "Turning Points"


Mary Jane Schimanski A'Hearn '45, business woman, homemaker, volunteer.


Susan Long Dineen '64, homemaker, volunteer and founder of Child Care Professionals, Inc.


Jean Weiner Johannigman '47, entrepreneur and educator; Anne Scheidler McGraw '68, school program director, Hematology/Oncology unit, Children's Hospital; Theresa Rebeck '76, playwright; Celeste Simon '73, research scientist


Suzanne Adrian DeYoung ’76, chef, food ministry volunteer; Chris Inkrot Schroder ’69 volunteer and caretaker for handicapped child; Linda Haller ’75 lawyer and public servant.


Lisa Maechling Debbeler ’73, attorney, homemaker and volunteer; Ann Ouelette Wehr ’75, vice president of health care division and chief medical office of Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico; Marianne Utz Sahms ’78, Class A member of the PGA of America, golf pro and coach and volunteer; and Jean M. Geoppinger ’83, attorney specializing in Holocaust restitution.


Elaine Brinker Marchetti ’54 social worker and volunteer for developmentally disabled; Sister Nancy Vollman, OSU ’55 educator and counselor; Sylvia Sieve Hendon ’61, judge; Diane Castelli ’71 President of Ursuline Academy.


Mary Ann Vogele ’49, accountant and caregiver, Angie Hoetker Buechner ’71, homemaker, mother and volunteer, and Gigi Greiwe Robison ’78, expert in oncology nursing.


Kay Stagaman Napier '73, general manager, North American Pharmaceuticals, P&G; and Jane Naberhaus Gardner '53, homemaker, artist and volunteer.


Margaret Drain '63, executive producer of The American Experience, PBS series on American History; Amy Wenstrup '86, McNerney & Associates, cancer survivor, caregiver and inspiration to those fighting the disease.


Laura Massa '72, Associate Athletics Director and Senior Women's Athletic Administrator at the University of South Carolina; and Diane Seiwert '73, president and CEO of Geriatric Nursing Care, Inc.


Jane Gusweiler Cooper '73, president and chief executive officer of Paramount Parks; and Susan Rains Garry '53, homemaker and volunteer.


Carol Muething Meirose '66, teacher and cued speech specialist.


Madge Smith Scheidler '44, homemaker and volunteer.


Margaret Long '31, public library coordinator of children's services; and Julie Isphording '80, marathon runner and marketing director.


Linda Vester '83, international news correspondent.


Mary Joe Osberger '65, researcher, advanced bionics; and Sister Mary Carren Herring, R.S.M. '69, educator and revitalize of inner-city schools.


R. Elaine Dreidame '60, University of Dayton athletic director; and Sister Joan Leonard, OSU '47, founder of Arts and Humanities Resource Center.


Sally Bunker Fellerhoff '49, City Council member/Vice-Mayor; Sister Ruth Podesta, OSU '50, Haitian Task Force coordinator; and Ruth Hittner Steinert '62, Greater Cincinnati Women-Church co-founder


Peggy Farrell Stier '50, Ed.D., learning consultant and owner of Learning Plus.


Judith Ball '60, first woman editor of the Catholic Telegraph; Elizabeth Beckman '75, liturgical choreographer/dancer; Nancy Brockman '44, recognized Montessori authority, Anne Dammarrell '56, State Department AID program director; Rosemary Beatty Furlong '46, church and community volunteer, Sister Rosemarie Kleinhaus '56, mathematics professor at Xavier University in New Orleans; Mary Ann Kokenge '76, Appalachian service project director; Mary-Therese Dellekamp Mennino '68, Chatauqua Arts Institute program director; and Sheila McPhelin Mutchler '60, special education chief at Smithsonian Institute.