Saint Ignatius High School

Alumni Award Winners Honored

The best way to illustrate a Saint Ignatius education is to look towards our alumni. Each year, we honor a group of alumni with various awards to recognize their success since graduation and honor their continued commitment to the mission of our school.

2019 Founders' Award - Jim Lentz '77

IMG_2464.jpgWhile raising a family and building a career, Jim’s involvement with Saint Ignatius was typical – attend an occasional football game, show up for Reunion Weekend, and make a yearly donation.  That all changed with a phone call in 2006 from classmate Mike Ginley ’77, who invited Jim to attend an Alumni Executive Council (AEC) meeting on the promise of free beer and dinner.  “Practically every decade was represented and the passion in that room just floored me,” recalls Jim. “Listening to their stories solidified my decision to get involved!”
Jim has served on countless committees - including Distinguished Alumni, Senior Golf, and Annual Fund. He’s volunteered at Alumni Weekends and Safety Forces Night and served as class leader for the 125th Jubilee Celebration to help fund the REACHing Magis Program, leading his class of 1977 to first place in ticket sales. He also served as 2010 Alumni Executive Council President.
What Jim is most proud of, though, is his development of the Class Agent Program. It’s an email-based newsletter helping classmates reconnect with each other and their Alma Mater on a more personal level by sharing stories about family, career, milestones, and prayers needed.  Twenty-two alumni classes have launched their class newsletters to date, and Jim has recruited more than 60 alumni to volunteer as class agents.  
“Making connections is important, but I also wanted to create an army of alumni to help advance the school’s mission by educating and challenging classmates to participate in the Annual Fund or other opportunities.  It’s been fun reaching out to alumni from all walks of life who want to help me on this endeavor.  The Ignatius alumni network is truly powerful and far reaching.”

Hon. John V. Corrigan '38 Distinguished Alumnus Award - Fred Nance '71

Fred NanceIn 1967 Fred entered Saint Ignatius as a freshman – and the journey got harder. The social pressures and isolation were enormous. “I was a stranger in a strange land, one of about 20 African Americans among 1,100 students. I left behind everything I knew. There weren’t a lot of social touchpoints, so sports became the great equalizer.” He walked on the football team as a sophomore, and by senior year was a varsity starter and played in two championship games.

Though he had been admitted to Saint Ignatius on academic probation, Fred worked hard and was ultimately offered a full-ride scholarship to Harvard University. He always felt supported by the Jesuits, especially counselor and teacher Fr. Jim O’Reilly, S.J.  “I am very grateful for those who took a chance on me. Saint Ignatius began the process of my journey into the mainstream and beyond.”

With a long track record of civic and professional leadership in the Cleveland area, Fred has been recognized with numerous awards. He is currently Global Managing Partner at Squire Patton Boggs and on the Board of Directors for the Cleveland Clinic.

“It’s really gratifying to know I’ve had the opportunity to make my hometown a better place -- more prosperous, more inclusive, more dynamic,” says Fred. “But it’s a job that’s never done.”

Hon. John V. Corrigan '38 Distinguished Alumnus Award - Dr. Brian Skotko '97

KADZIELSKI_Mark_12684-1-1.jpgBrian entered Duke University and had an “aha moment” discovering that there were doctors who focused solely on patients with Down syndrome. “My dream job was to one day run a clinic for people with Down syndrome and do research. Many years of training later, I now have that dream job.”

Educated at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School, Brian is currently a medical geneticist and the Emma Campbell Endowed Chair on Down Syndrome at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He leads a team of 20 multidisciplinary professionals providing evidence-based clinical care, education, and research to help individuals with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

Brian has focused much of his research on siblings of those with Down syndrome and co-authored national award-winning books, Common Threads: Celebrating Life with Down Syndrome and Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters. He also provides training for physicians, residents, and nonprofits who need modern, realistic research data to help expectant parents.

“Words matter,” says Brian. “When couples get a diagnosis of Down syndrome, they remember with 88 percent accuracy the first sentence the doctor said. Let’s do it in a humane and compassionate way, to get parents to a moment of acceptance and celebration faster.” Brian has seen healing and even spiritual moments in his work with families and represents their voices in public discussions. He been featured in The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Washington PostThe L.A. Times, NPR’s “On Point,” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Young Alumnus Award - Tom Gill '01

John GillTom Gill ’01 grew up in Bay Village, Ohio, but traveled far from home to find himself and his vocation. Tom’s life began in a family deeply rooted in their Catholic identity and Jesuit education, with his father, Al Gill ’65, and brother, John ’97, both Saint Ignatius alumni.  

Tom thrived at Saint Ignatius, where he was challenged and nurtured by faculty like Mr. Bill Kelley ’62, moderator for the Student Senate, an organization Tom was passionate about for all four years of high school. It was Kelley’s stories of being a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile that inspired Tom’s decision to study Spanish and eventually to choose his two great loves as college majors at Saint Louis University: Spanish and Theology, along with international studies.

Feeling drawn home to Cleveland, Tom recalls, “I wanted to be in a place that mattered to me. I love Cleveland, so it wasn’t a sacrifice, and my family is here.” After a role as Executive Fellow with the Cleveland Leadership Center, in 2010 he joined the staff of Urban Community School, serving primarily low-income children from Cleveland's west side and founded by the Ursuline Sisters. Hired initially as Development Director, Tom took on various roles before becoming President of UCS in 2017.

At age 35, Tom’s career is advancing, and he is happy to make an impact in Cleveland, but he still recalls the words of a Jesuit mentor: “He told me we live in a world built on upward mobility, but we follow someone who was all about downward mobility. That always stuck with me.  I want to stay grounded in the Gospel mission and serve others well,” says Tom. “It’s all about vocation. This has worked well for me, but I’m no better than other classmates. This is where my gifts and talents lie. It is who I am. The Ignatian approach is essential to how we make decisions -- and how we live our personal and professional lives.”

Seal of Loyola Award for Outstanding Service to the President of Saint Ignatius High School - Mark Kadzielski '65

KADZIELSKI_MarkIn Los Angeles, Mark is currently a partner with BakerHostetler, one of the nation’s largest law firms. He provides regulatory and operational guidance to hospitals, medical staffs, managed care enterprises and healthcare providers throughout the country. He’s had a wonderful career in a specialty that has greatly expanded over the years – and is unique among law practices. “Healthcare law is an opportunity to make a difference in society,” reflects Mark. “My work directly supports the legal environment for healthcare organizations so they can improve the quality of patient care.” He is a trusted adviser and expert on peer review and credentialing of healthcare providers, and has spoken and written widely on these and other health law topics. 

Mark has been a longtime supporter of Jesuit education, serving as President of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Honor Society of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and financially assisting Saint Ignatius, John Carroll as well as the Jesuit schools his sons attended: Loyola High School and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.  

In 2006, Mark was the visionary behind the Saint Ignatius President’s Visiting Committee, formed under president Rev. Tim Kesicki, S.J.  “I told Tim that Saint Ignatius had such a large and valuable resource in alumni beyond Cuyahoga County who have accomplished so much. They could serve as an advisory board to give back in non-monetary ways, by consulting and advising on special issues,” recalls Mark. He led the President’s Visiting Committee as its Chair for its first 11 years. The group now includes about 26 out-of-area alumni who act as board council to president Rev. Ray Guiao, S.J. ’82. 

These alumni were be honored during the 1886 Society Leadership Reception which was held on May 18, 2019.