President's Dinner Award Recipient

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.

Jenny Heyl '79 is 2017 Woman of the Year

Curiosity. Risk. Faith-driven choices. These words describe the path Jenny Heyl took to become the woman she is today. An accomplished leader, a generous giver, and a consummate professional working in a challenging medical arena.

Jenny is a member of Ursuline Academy’s Class of 1979. As a student, she was passionate about math and science. Her family was rooted in the Catholic faith, but also considered a challenging academic foundation to be a priority. Ursuline provided both opportunities, and she quickly became curious about chemistry, even jumping at the opportunity to take on the role of lab assistant to Sr. Ellen Doyle, O.S.U. This work convinced Jenny that her future involved the medical profession, and it instilled a sense of confidence in her that would fuel her career.

Always the inquisitive learner, Jenny found a passion for the humanities in addition to the sciences when she enrolled in a philosophy course with Fr. Jack Wessling. That single course, with a most influential man, piqued her interest so deeply that she went on to seek out similar classes at St. Louis University.

At St. Louis University, Jenny started as a chemistry major, still required to take 12 hours of theology and 12 of philosophy to fulfill the general education requirements. Courses such as ethics, philosophy of human nature, and medical ethics finally tipped the scales and convinced her to take another risk. Could she combine her interest in science and philosophy and turn it into a career?

Jenny graduated from St. Louis University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, going on to earn her certificate in bioethics from Cleveland State University. She credits a strong grounding in faith, combined with the excellent education from Ursuline and St. Louis University that challenged her to reassess her life and pursue a higher degree and a lifelong career in medical ethics. Jenny went on to earn her Ph.D. in Philosophy with a concentration in medical ethics from The University of Tennessee. She took the risk and earned a role as the director of ethics for the now Mercy Health System, where she has served for the past 12 years.

Jenny’s influence spans both the medical and academic communities. On multiple occasions, she has served as a visiting professor of higher education at locations including Georgetown College, Presbyterian College, St. Louis University, and The University of Tennessee. She has published a number of research papers and academic presentations for medical professionals across the country, and is a member of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) and the Association for Professional and Practicing Ethics (APPE).

It is abundantly clear that Jenny’s faith has transformed her life and served as a guidepost for her career. As the director of ethics for the Mercy Health System, she recognizes that “healthcare can be a ministry of the Church, where we respect the inherent dignity of each person as made in the likeness of God.”

Jenny’s role in medical ethics is a delicate one. It requires her to consult with patients and families, alongside the medical team, as they address morally difficult, often end-of-life decisions. When asked about how her education influences these challenging conversations, she said she “developed a true appreciation for the technological, scientific, and medical advances with the understanding that they all must respect the inherent dignity of persons; just because we are able to do something does not imply that we should.”

Jenny’s friend and Ursuline classmate, and the 2016 Woman of the Year, Kelly Dehan, said of Jenny, “she was always bright and very kind to everyone.”

It is no surprise that Jenny has been a longtime friend of Ursuline Academy, giving of her time as a Symposium speaker with our students in 2015. She has committed resources to the Ursuline Academy Legacy Campaign, helping to ensure that future students are able to experience the academic gift she received in an Ursuline education. When speaking about her time at Ursuline, she humbly says, “I thought I appreciated my education at the time, but I didn’t realize what an amazing opportunity I had before me.”

Today, Jenny wants to remind all Ursuline Academy students to move forward confidently. Take risks. Stay curious. Rely on your faith to make choices. Recognize that the education and foundation you have will guide you toward your passions; and always stay close to family, friends, and to Ursuline.

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.

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


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.