The Distinguished Alumnae Awards are bestowed upon alumnae who have distinguished themselves by giving witness to the mission of The Academy of the Holy Cross and exhibiting the ideals of an alumna of the Academy in their daily lives.
Recipients of this award:
- Demonstrate the characteristics of a graduate of the Academy, by being women of courage, compassion, and scholarship.
- Demonstrate unusual professional or personal accomplishments that embrace the social, spiritual, and intellectual challenges of the world.
- Distinguish themselves as caring, Christian women.
Helen "Jean" Gleason White ’59
After graduating from Holy Cross, Jean Gleason White entered federal service and served with distinction for 31 years until retirement. For a short period of time, Jean left her job to pursue a degree in English at George Mason College of the University of Virginia and was among the first 60 women to graduate from UVA’s College of Arts and Science. After graduation, and return to work, Jeannie pursued post-graduate studies at night at Georgetown University and American University, earning a master’s degree in Information Resources Management, a Certificate of Accounting, and a Certificate in Configuration and Data Management. By the end of her federal service, Jean was working at the National Security Agency with top security clearance.
Additionally, Jean has published three murder mysteries, with the fourth in the works, as well as a biography of her father-in-law, Frank Russell White, architect of the Wardman Park Hotel.
Jean has held membership in many professional and volunteer organizations, most notably is her membership in the National Press Club, entering in 1978, just three years after women were permitted. She is also an active volunteer with the American News Women’s Club and weightlifting at Gold’s Gym.
With her laudable scholarly and professional background, Jean remains a behind-the-scenes, quiet person, demonstrating the most important qualification for this award. Jeannie is a caring Christian woman with her generous heart and her quiet way…always sensitive to the needs of others, and ready to be of service.
Mary Joy Ellis Hurlburt ’68
Having discovered her passion for art at The Academy of the Holy Cross, Mary Joy began her career teaching art at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in 1985. In 2005 Mary Joy was named President of St. Mary’s Ryken. She is the first female president of an Xaverian Brothers-sponsored school. During her time as president, she oversaw a comprehensive campus master plan that included major renovations to four academic buildings, creation of a campus ministry center, and construction of a turf field and stadium. The completion during the summer of 2019 of the 21st century MIL STEM/Robotics Lab and the state-of-the-art Donnie Williams Center, a 48,000 square ft. wellness center, brought the campus master plan to closure. Having led several successful capital and comprehensive campaigns, Mary Joy was able to raise significant funds for the endowment, capital projects, scholarships and financial aid.
Mary Joy has served on the board of directors of St. John’s Preparatory School, in Danvers, MA; Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD; and The Academy of the Holy Cross. She has served as president of the Archdiocese of Washington Presidents’ Association. She is a member of the Lexington Park Rotary Club and St. George’s Parish in Valley Lee, MD.
Mary Joy received her Master of Arts in Supervision and Leadership from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art and
education from Ladycliff College in New York.
She is blessed to be married to George Hurlburt for 46 years and they have a wonderful son, Jimmy, and two grandchildren, Eli and Minah.
Paula Kirlew Grant ’85
Paula is an Emmy Award-winning television and radio broadcaster and marketing/multimedia professional, who currently serves as secretary for communications for the Archdiocese of Washington and is the media spokesperson and representative of the Cardinal Archbishop. Paula previously served as director of communications for Archdiocese of Atlanta for five years.
Paula earned her Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film, magna cum laude, from the University of Maryland, College Park in just three years. While at her first job at WUSA TV/CBS she became the host of a teen talk show, eventually winning her first Emmy Award as a producer.
In 1989, Paula answered a dare from a friend and tried out for the national Miss Black America pageant—and won. She became radio co-host on Majic 102.3 (“Radio One”) and eventually won the prestigious “Best Individual in Radio” award from the American Women in Radio and Television. Paula has served as public relations counsel in numerous fields and hosted numerous special television programs for well-known entities such as the Children's Miracle Network, the WB (Warner Bros. Television, now the “CW”), UPS, and the YMCA of Greater Atlanta. Paula currently serves as a board member for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.
Paula is the proud wife of Ray Grant and a super-proud mom of daughter Rae and son Donovan.
Elizabeth Mahan Doyle ’40 (posthumous)
Betty was an electronics engineer/intelligence analyst who was a proponent for women to enter into the engineering field. She served as a physicist in the Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, from 1944 to 1948, where she became an electronics engineer. Her assignments included tours of duty in the Direction Finder Design Section, the Infrared and Ultraviolet Passive Detection Systems Design Branch, and the Radar Design Branch. In 1956 she transferred to the Central Intelligence Agency, working as an electronics analyst in the Headquarters Electronics Intelligence Processing Center, where she interpreted signals intercepted by the famous U-2 missions. While there, Betty earned a special award from the National Security Agency for her classified reports on the Soviet Surface-to-Air Missile Radar. This work led to the successful design of electronic countermeasure systems.
In 1963 Betty moved to the Defense Intelligence Agency, where she conducted special studies to identify radar signal collection requirements and to determine how successful the airborne collections missions were in satisfying these requirements for both the Air Force and Navy. In 1971 she was appointed to be the Federal Women’s Coordinator for the DIA in addition to her responsibilities as an electronics engineer/intelligence analyst.
Betty was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Electronic Warfare Association, Trinity College Alumni Association, The Academy of the Holy Cross Alumnae Association, The Association of Former Intelligence Officers, The U.S. Naval Institute, and the American Association of University Women.
Betty was a member of the Catholic Church of the Little Flower and Kenwood Country Club. Betty died at age 95 on Thursday, April 5, 2018.
She was married to Bernard Doyle and is survived by her two sons, Bernie and Dick Doyle; their wives Ev and Jackie Jacobs Doyle ’73; nine grandchildren (including Christie Doyle Heidenberger ’05); and 14 great-grandchildren.
Sister Sharon Mihm, CSC ’63
Sister Sharon is so proud to be an alumna of the Academy’s fourth graduating class from the Kensington campus. “Words cannot adequately express how deeply grateful I am for the Academy.” It was here at Holy Cross that the seeds of her vocation were firmly planted as well as her desire to become an educator of students on the elementary school level. Sister Sharon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at Dunbarton College and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1967. She began teaching at Saint Mary’s Campus School on the grounds of the Motherhouse and Saint Mary’s College.
Sister served as a principal for elementary schools in the East for nearly 50 years. She transitioned into hospital ministry in 2014 and began serving in the Spiritual Care Department at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and recently at Holy Cross Germantown. She says, “When I originally took this leap of Faith to transition from education to serving patients and their loved-ones, I had no idea that these years would truly be life-giving for me personally. Seeing the face of God in the peace and contentment of newborns and the expressions of joy and love on the faces of their parents and also seeing God’s presence in those who are lonely and those waiting to be called home—touches my heart in countless ways on a daily basis.”
Additionally Sister Sharon also serves on the Academy’s Board of Trustees where she chairs the School Life Committee. “Serving as a Principal and being part of the Spiritual Care Department of Holy Cross Health has been a gift! Serving the Academy for the past 10 years has truly been a blessing.”
Sister Sharon is deeply grateful to the Sisters of the Holy Cross who taught her at the Academy and Dunbarton College of Holy Cross and on whose shoulders she is privileged to stand today.
Monica Creamer Bradford ’75
Monica studied chemistry at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, receiving a Bachelor of Science in 1979. After college, Monica worked for the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society for nine years. For the last 30 years, she has been on the staff of the journal Science, the premier global outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research. Monica is currently Executive Editor of the Science journals, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In this position she oversees the peer-review and selection of manuscripts for six journals: Science, Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, Science Immunology, Science Robotics and Science Advances.
Monica has worked alongside six editors-in-chief helping to lead the field of scholarly publishing in developing standards for authorship, conflicts of interest, reproducibility, data/material availability, dual-use research of concern and transparency. Science has published many high-profile research papers during Monica’s tenure, on topics including the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene, Otzi—the iceman of the Alps, the human genome, exosolar planets, quantum cascade lasers, the Bose-Einstein condensate, and small RNAs. She worked closely with the team to maximize public awareness of these exciting results. In addition she helped craft special issues that highlighted research that impacts societal issues such as inequality, the environment and disease.
Monica has been heavily involved in the development of Science’s website and new media offerings as well as the adoption of technologies to increase efficiency and support for a digital-first, format-agnostic publication process. Monica served on the publishing board of the American Heart Association, was a director of the Counsel of Science Editors, and served as the president of the Council in 2007. A personal career highlight for Monica was participating in the Conference of Women Leaders in Science, Technology, and Engineering that was organized by the U.S. Department of State and gathered women from the North Africa/Middle East region for a workshop in Kuwait. In addition she has enjoyed working with the publishing team and sponsors on establishing awards to recognize early-career scientists.
Monica has two daughters, Allison ’09 and Colleen ’12.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, ’94
Kimberly has been working at the intersection of race, gender, and politics for almost 20 years. Kimberly is the co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office.
Kimberly and her co-founder Glynda Carr have built Higher Heights from an idea on the back of a placemat into a network of over 90,000 members, donors, and activists across the country that have helped elect Black women to Congress and the U.S Senate, and to grow the number of Black women in statewide executive office and leading our nation's largest cities.
Kimberly was the principal of Peeler-Allen Consulting, LLC from 2003 to 2014, the only African American full-time fundraising consulting firm in the state of the New York. Kimberly served as a finance director of Letitia James' successful bid to become Public Advocate of the City of New York and the first African American woman elected citywide in New York's history. She then became the Co-Executive Director of New York Attorney General Letitia James' Transition Committee, under which she oversaw the recruitment and retention of key staff, supervised the execution of the Attorney General's inaugural, and worked with the Transition Committee to develop policy areas for enhancement within the Attorney General's Office. Kimberly also serves as a board member of ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women's Equity.
In 2018, Kimberly was selected as one of the Roddenberry Fellowship's 20 incredible established and emerging activists to devote an entire year to projects that will make the U.S more inclusive and equitable through their inaugural cohort.
Kimberly credits Holy Cross as the catalyst to taking the adage of "be the change you want to see in the world" from concept to practice. The strong academic foundation, critical thinking, resilience and of course the motto that girls can do ANYTHING instilled in her during her high school years lead her to walk in the unbought and unbossed footsteps of Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm to make sure that Black women lead at all levels.
Kimberly, her husband, and her two children live in Brooklyn, New York.
Sylvia Cole Mackey ’59
Sylvia’s incredible life changed dramatically at Holy Cross as a seventh grader in September 1953, which she calls her “New Beginning.” Learning to speak French was part of the mandatory curriculum, and she loved the French language so much that she majored in French at Syracuse University with a minor in Russian. After graduation from Syracuse, Sylvia took a position at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., as a bi-lingual secretary in the department for French-speaking African countries. After this, she became a linguist in French and Russian for the Defense Department.
Sylvia met her husband John Mackey at Syracuse University. John played football at Syracuse and then for 10 years in the National Football League for the Baltimore Colts as their starting tight end. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Sylvia and John were married for 52 years. After having three children, Sylvia became a professional model, which took her to Paris to walk in the seasonal fashion shows. After 30 years working as a model she saw an ad for bi-lingual flight attendants in the newspaper and again, here was another New Beginning for Sylvia that started at Holy Cross.
Following the 9-11 attacks on the United States, Sylvia was furloughed from her job for 90 days. It was during this period that her husband was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), and Sylvia finally had answers about his escalating strange behavior. In 2006, Sylvia asked the NFL for help, knowing how this disease could lead her and many other NFL families in this same situation to financial ruin. Her plea turned into the “88 Plan,” named after her husband’s jersey number during his entire collegiate and professional career. The 88 Plan provides retired players funds for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and provides funding for dementia research.
Sylvia still works for United Airlines as a Flight Attendant. She is also an advisor and inspirational spokesperson. She has received numerous awards for her advocacy. The Sylvia Mackey Woman of the Year Award presented by Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund was established in Sylvia’s name and is annually to another NFL caregiver/advocate who makes a mark in the community and in sports world for work that she has done to raise awareness and funds. Sylvia continues to remain vigilant in her efforts to advocate for those who need help and to as she says, “make sure that the right things are done for all.”
Nancy Morrison O’Connor ’69
After graduating from Holy Cross, Nancy received her undergraduate degree in from Gettysburg College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Political Science. She then earned her law degree from University of Notre Dame Law School, where she was the editor of the Notre Dame Lawyer. She was also a Rotary International Scholar from the University of Wales.
Nancy Morrison O’Connor was sworn in as a lawyer in Houston, Texas just over 40 years ago. It was the first year Texas feminized its licenses to practice law. This began a series of firsts for Nancy. She was the first woman to have a child at Leon Jaworksi’s firm, then one of the largest in the US with just over 100 lawyers. She then had two more children. Six years after joining the firm, she was in the first class of women promoted to Partner.
One move back home to DC, one federal appointment, one in-house counsel position and one more law firm partnership later, Nancy is now General Counsel at The Catholic University of America and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Once again, as at the Academy, she is united with her colleagues in shared values and mission flowing from their Catholic foundations.
Nancy serves on the Board of the National Veterans Legal Services Program and the DC Circuit Credentials Committee for the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. She has served as Chair of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Commission on Human Rights and its Case Review Board.
Every day she uses the skills and qualities instilled at the Academy. She takes special pride in her continued ability to diagram sentences—mentally. She continues to make and enjoy memories with her Holy Cross classmates. And she loves best spending time with her family, especially her mom and her three (almost) grandchildren -- Hughie, Millie and TBD.
Lisa Ridgway Slater ’82
Lisa has long been an advocate for Catholic education in the DC metropolitan area, a quality she learned from her parents Dick and Jeanie Ridgway. She has served as a coach and volunteered in numerous capacities for a variety of organizations, all in the spirit of helping kids find success as part of the Catholic community.
After Holy Cross, Lisa graduated from Boston College in 1986 and passed the CPA exam in 1987. She worked as a corporate auditor for a Big 8 accounting firm in Boston and New Orleans. Lisa married Bill Slater in 1988 and they settled in Kensington where they have raised their daughters Ellie ’08, Katie ’10 and sons Jack and Ridge.
Lisa has been dedicated to the prosperity and growth of Holy Cross since the early 1990s when she began fundraising and volunteering for the Alumnae Board. She served on the Board of Trustees from 2002-2008 and was a member of the Development Committee. She has served on the past two capital campaign committees and was a motivating force for the construction of the artificial turf field named Ridgway Field in honor of her parents. Lisa was also among the first Holy Cross Athletic Hall of Fame inductees from the 1976-1982 basketball program’s record-setting winning streak.
Beyond Holy Cross, Lisa has generously supported other worthy organizations. She is a volunteer tutor at The Washington School for Girls and is an avid supporter of the school. She has been an active member of the Gonzaga College High School community, serving on the Board of Trustees, the Development Committee, and co-chairing the Current Parent Committee for the Capital Campaign. One of Lisa’s proudest endeavors has been her commitment to the Shepherd Foundation, an organization co-founded by her father raising over $10 million to provide Catholic school scholarships for families who can’t otherwise afford tuition.
When not wearing her organization hat, Lisa cheers on her children and nieces and nephews on the sports fields and in the theater. She is an avid fan of Gonzaga ice hockey where Bill is the head coach. Lisa lives by the Christian ideals of a Holy Cross alumna and it is her goal to instill these same ideals in her family and her community.
Katharine Teitel '69
Karen Schmelzer Jacobsen '81
Dominica Groom '00
Maureen Flatley '66
Betsy Sanford '74
Suzanne Folsom, Esq. '79
Melita Garza '77
Maggie O'Neill '95
Stephanie Sprow ’00
Margot Cook '61 (posthumous)
Margot DiCairano Durkin '66
Judy O'Rorke-Trigiani '86
Mary Grogan Stohlman ’46 (posthumous)
Catherine Hanrahan ’77
Andrea Williams Simms ’00
Frances Brinker Scango ’61
Donna Reese Byrd ’77
A. Robin Mahaney Frye ’80
Jennifer Pedersen Daniels ’85
Jayne Harper Plank ’50
Sister Paula Goettelmann, C.S.C. ’60
Carol Ann Hook Mikules ’63 (posthumous)
Beth Hughes Celestini ’86
Laura Cartagena ’01
Karen Elsner Davey ’81
Barbara Peyton Trainor ’83
Elizabeth Belle Drewry ’25 (posthumous)
Karen Bowen Fisher ’63
Sally Davis Rhodes ’65
JoAnna Barnes ’78
Sister Joan Carusillo, C.S.C. ’49
Ann Gregg Skeet ’82
Rhonique Shields Harris ’91
Sister Ann Shaw, C.S.C. ’56
Joan Cushing ’64
Nancy Mayer-Whittington ’71
Mary Ann Nesline Viverette ’73
Mary Chris Adamec Gay ’85
Jennifer Graves ’98