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.

Christy Schragal '88 is 2018 Woman of the Year


In the state of Ohio, you’re either born or made a Buckeye for life, according to Christy Schragal '88.
Well she wasn’t born here and she unfortunately doesn’t live here anymore, but we happily still welcome Christy as one of our favorite “Buckeyes”.

Christy grew up in West Chester, the oldest of five children and the first of three girls to come to Ursuline. After attending public school in the Lakota school system, she faced the scary prospect of leaving her friends behind and heading out to Blue Ash. But after arriving at Ursuline in the fall of 1984, she knew she’d found her home.

Christy quickly got involved, joining the Press Club and the Instrumental Ensemble, both of which stirred up a passion in her that would last a lifetime. Though she didn’t love the writing side of the newspaper initially, Christy relished the chance to edit and lay out each design of the Lions’ Roar, and served as Editor her Junior and Senior years.

Throughout her time at Ursuline, Christy thrived in her math, science, and French classes, was a member of the National Honor Society, and was a National Merit Finalist. By the spring of 1988, Christy would graduate second in her class.

She remembers her time at Ursuline as one of the most formative of her life, saying, "Thirty years later, I would have never gone anywhere else. I'm sure I would have done well academically elsewhere, but I don't think I would have been as happy, I don't think I would have thrived, and I wouldn't have been put in leadership positions. At Ursuline it isn't quid-pro-quo that you should put women in leadership roles – it's just obvious that every leader will be a woman. And that is such a gift."

After Ursuline, Christy went on to Case Western Reserve University where she met her husband Jon. They moved on to Chicago where Christy worked as an inventory buyer and analyst for Sentinel Technologies and for Mitutoyo America, one of the world’s largest metrology companies. Working for a foreign-national company based in Japan was a whirlwind experience for Christy, forcing her outside of her comfort zone to work with people of different backgrounds, traditions and languages.

After starting a family, she and Jon settled in Richmond, Virginia and today have two children. Her daughter Maddie has re-joined the Buckeye State and is a freshman at OSU, and her son Jake is a freshman in high school.

Christy is a volunteer within her community, her congregation, and her children’s schools, and has taken up music once again, teaching herself the piano and playing the violin. And best of all, Christy has continued her passion for writing begun at Ursuline, and is now a creative non-fiction writer. She has been featured in the book Nine Lives: A Life in Ten Minutes Anthology, and continues to write and edit others’ works.

Like everyone in this room, Christy finds the time to give back to her community: volunteering of her time, and supporting the causes she cares about, like Ursuline Academy. For so many of us, philanthropy is about giving to others and providing a helping hand along the way. And Christy takes it one step further: for her, philanthropy is about paying it back, and paying it forward.

As a student, Christy was the beneficiary of a merit-based academic scholarship and worked in the Development office as a part of a work-study program. During her Junior year, her French class had the opportunity to travel abroad on an exchange program to France. Christy was thrilled at the prospect of leaving home and traveling abroad for the first time, but soon learned that the cost of the trip was too much for her family to accommodate.

Christy was heartbroken, finding herself inwardly resentful of having to hear about other students’ plans, jealous that even students from other language classes would attend, and most of all, tired of explaining to students and teachers alike why she would not be with them in June.

Then, one evening she came down to family dinner to find a hand-drawn French flag and US passport application lying on her dinner plate. Shirley Speaks had called her parents to report that an anonymous donor had offered to pay $1,000.00 towards her trip. The next morning, Shirley repeated what her parents had already said: a donor who wished to remain anonymous had made the offer to help her family. But she added something. The donor had indicated that they hoped when Christy graduated and moved on in the world, she would one day reach out and help another Ursuline student in the same way: she was being asked to pay it forward.

Today, Christy doesn’t see it just as paying it forward, she sees it as paying it back. Not to the donor, but to the Ursuline tradition, to the students, and to those in need. In 2015, Christy and her husband created an endowed scholarship through our Endowing the Legacy Campaign to help provide a tuition assistance grant to a deserving student.

As we come to the end of our Endowing the Legacy campaign, we are thrilled to share Christy’s story about paying back a debt of gratitude by paying it forward. Like so many in this room, Christy has made a commitment to our students that will live in perpetuity and continue the legacy of philanthropy within our community.

We are so grateful to count Christy as a member of our community, and as one of our outstanding alumnae.

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.


2017Jenny Heyl '79, medical ethics director, generous volunteer, loyal supporter, great friend of Ursuline
2016Kelly Dehan '79, successful businesswoman, generous volunteer, loyal supporter, great friend of Ursuline
2015Stephanie Sudbrack-Busam '76, leader in the real estate industry, active community volunteer, loyal alumna, proud parent, generous supporter of Ursuline

2014

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

2013

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

2012

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

2011

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

2010

Becky Buehler Catino '79, entrepreneur, philanthropist, homemaker

2009

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

2008

Mary Lou Dulle Boylan '45, musician, volunteer

2007

Susie Keating Lame '76, volunteer

2006

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

2005

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

2004

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

2003

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

2002

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.

2001

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.

2000

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.

1999

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

1998

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

1997

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.

1996

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.

1995

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

1994

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

1993

Madge Smith Scheidler '44, homemaker and volunteer.

1992

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

1991

Linda Vester '83, international news correspondent.

1990

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

1989

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

1988

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

1987

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

1986

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.