Sacred Heart University honored 13 of its distinguished alumni at its annual Alumni Awards Ceremony luncheon during Homecoming Weekend recently. The awards recognize alumni who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their daily lives and use their knowledge, professional skills, creative talents and humanistic strengths to make a difference in their careers and communities.
This year, the University bestowed the following Alumni Leadership Awards:
Alumni Achievement Award—Michael J. Del Re Jr. ’68, founder and president of Financial Network Limited, Milford. As president of the firm, Del Re serves a wide range of clients—both individual and corporate—who rely on him for his industry knowledge and experience. He is responsible for researching, developing and marketing new ideas to enhance clients’ financial well-being. Connecticut magazine honored Del Re with its Five Star Wealth Manager Award in 2014 and 2016.
Alumni Association Pioneer Award—Michael A. Fasano, Sr. ’71, founding member of the law firm of Duffy and Fasano, Waterbury. A well-known attorney within the greater Waterbury area, Fasano has assisted generations of individuals and families from Waterbury and Litchfield since 1976. He is a family and civil law advocate with substantial experience in and out of the courtroom. Fasano has tried cases successfully before the Connecticut Superior, Appellate and Supreme courts. He also has received recognition from the chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court for his dedication to protecting the rights of indigent litigants and for his countless hours of pro bono service to the poor. Fasano has been selected for the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 organization, which comprises premier trial lawyers from Connecticut. In addition, leading publications have recognized his work.
Alumni Association Emerging Leader Award—Jonathan McCarthy ’96, vice president of digital experience and media for Altice USA. McCarthy manages the digital customer experience across all Altice platforms and oversees digital media marketing and brand strategy. Prior to this role, he was responsible for all digital production for Cablevision’s web portals, as well as the day-to-day operation of MSG Varsity, Cablevision’s broadband-only high school sports network. While with MSG Varsity, McCarthy was named to the CableFax Digital Hot List, which recognizes executives shepherding progress in technology strategy and cutting-edge multiplatform development. McCarthy has been honored with numerous awards, including a 2014 New York Emmy for programming and multiple Editor and Publisher awards for excellence in digital publishing. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Knight Batten Award for innovations in journalism.
Alumni Association Emerging Leader Award—Jessica A. Pawlik-York ’00, director of education programs at Post University, Waterbury. Pawlik-York oversees multiple degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels, and she proposed and created the master of science degree in higher education administration at Post. Prior to Post, Pawlik-York served as director for exploratory academic advising and peer tutoring at Fairfield University. She graduated from SHU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology; while here, she was a four-year member of the women’s soccer team and active in the SHU community. Her time as a work-study student in admissions and athletics led her to think about a career in higher education. Pawlik-York is involved in a number of national and regional educational research organizations and associations.
Alumni Association Young Alumni Award 2016—Kelly O’Leary ’07, MAT, principal of St. Martin de Porres Academy, New Haven. The academy is a faith-based, Nativity Miguel middle school for underserved children in grades 5-8. The school raises funds to cover its $1.5 million operating budget and provide full scholarships to students from low-income families in the New Haven area. In 2013, O’Leary’s high school alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy, honored her with its Hearts of the Community Award for her work with underserved youth. As a model for her students, she continued her own education, earning a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Seton Hall University this year. Her research focused on the use of socio-economic demographic information and education to reliably predict district-level proficiency on standardized test scores. O’Leary’s students and their families live under the shadow that poverty casts on their lives, and her doctoral research highlighted the need for holistic, trauma-informed education.
Alumni Association Athletic Alumni Award—Thomas J. Sullivan II ’08, police officer, Cranston, R.I. Since Sullivan’s swearing-in on April 20, 2016, he already has received two commendations from the police chief. As an athlete, he was introduced to Olympic weightlifting by Connecticut’s own World Masters weightlifting champion, Gary Valentine. Though Sullivan has not participated in the sport for long, he has competed at some of the highest levels and received multiple national qualification invitations. In 2014, he accepted an invitation to compete in Washington, D.C., at the American Open Championships, finishing 9th. Sullivan lives in Rhode Island, but he stays involved with SHU wrestling.
Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award—Susan Goncalves ’90, ’13 DNP, assistant professor at SHU’s College of Nursing, med/surgical and gerontological registered nurse, board-certified by the American Academy Nurse Credentialing Center and licensed by the state of Connecticut. In August, 2014, Goncalves joined the School of Nursing, sharing her expertise and knowledge with future nurses. Research interests include the concept of caring and the examination of practice changes in nursing. She has numerous publications, including research involving the measurement of nurse caring behaviors. Goncalves serves on the leadership committee for the Connecticut Nurses Association. Her many awards include the Nursing Research Award from St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the Guardian Angel Award from St. Mary/St. Michael School in Derby.
Alumni Association Lifetime Service Award—Angie Staltaro ’75, employed for 35 years with the city of Bridgeport. As the city’s relocation coordinator for 25 years, she aided many homeless families and developed supportive housing programs such as Housing for Success and Teen Parenting Mothers, as well as transitional and permanent rental home ownership programs. She helped create eight neighborhood revitalization zone plans and six Kaboom playgrounds in Bridgeport, and she has worked with hundreds of volunteers to undertake beautification projects in the greater Bridgeport area. Staltaro graduated from SHU with a degree in sociology and a certificate in social work. She also holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Bridgeport.
College of Nursing—Cheryl Green ’10, MSN, nurse leader at Yale-New Haven Hospital, adjunct professor at University of Bridgeport and assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at Southern Connecticut State University. As a nurse, Green has worked in the areas of medical-surgical nursing, legal nurse consulting, psychiatry, community health, medically complex rehabilitation and nurse education. As a social worker, she has worked with children, families and couples in private practice; served as a mental health consultant to a private school; provided spiritually based therapy in group practice; and provided play therapy and child-centered family work with children infected with HIV/AIDS. She also has worked as a crisis clinician, providing on-call psychiatric consultation within a hospital setting.
Jack Welch College of Business—Traci Morris ’85, CEO of Brookfield Global Relocation Services, Detroit, Mich. Morris leads Brookfield GRS and its 2,000 global professionals on five continents as they deliver services to more than 400 corporate and government clients worldwide. She was named Global Mobility Professional of the Year by The Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM). Profiles in Diversity Journal recognized Morris in the “2014 Women Worth Watching” issue for her leadership, knowledge, experience and advice. Morris is a member of the Board of Directors and serves as treasurer for The Denan Project, a grassroots humanitarian project founded in 2003.
College of Arts & Sciences—Michael Vigeant ’98, CEO of GreatBlue Research, Cromwell. Vigeant interprets collected data into objective, actionable information, enabling clients to make informed decisions. He personally has conducted more than 500 focus groups within and across a diverse mix of industries, including health care, utilities, government and consumer package goods. During Vigeant’s time with The Center for Research & Public Policy, he was part of the team that managed the SHU Polling Institute, which operated on Sacred Heart’s campus for nearly a decade. The Hartford Business Journal acknowledged Vigeant’s commitment to community and entrepreneurial spirit when it named him to its “40 Under Forty” roster of 2012.
College of Health Professions—George Ciresi III ’01, ’03, MSPT, co-founder and co-owner of Professional Care Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, East Patchogue and Riverhead, N.Y. His patients have included professional athletes from the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, WWE, NASCAR, the PGA tour and ATP tennis, as well as college athletes from around the country. Ciresi earned his bachelor’s degree in human movement sports science from SHU in 2001, graduating cum laude, and achieved his master’s degree in physical therapy from the University as well, graduating with honors.
Isabelle Farrington College of Education—Lataya Berry-Middleton ’05, MAT, tenured educator with Stamford public schools and program coordinator for the Project Lead the Way biomedical science program. She has taught science for the past eight years at the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (AITE), which focuses on STEM initiatives and careers. Recipient of the “Spotlight on Teachers” award in 2013, Berry-Middleton is a certified master teacher under Project Lead the Way and travels nationally during summers to provide curriculum-based instruction and training to other educators on partnering university campuses.
To view additional photos from the Alumni Awards, click here.