The 2017 Alumni Awards, held April 8, 2017, celebrated the extraordinary work and service of six of Catholic University’s most distinguished alumni.
The Alumni Achievement Award was bestowed on three alums — Vinny Sica, B.M.E. ’83; Ellen Schultz, B.A. ’92; and Fr. Dave Dwyer, M.Div ’00 — who have excelled in their respective fields. The Young Alumni Merit Award, recognizing an alum who demonstrates both early career achievement and potential was presented to J. Peter Donald, B.A. ’10. Maureen Devine O’Reilly and Brendan O’Reilly, both B.A. ’87, jointly received the George J. Quinn ’50 Distinguished Service Award for committed service to the Alumni Association.
That evening, keynote speaker and honoree Gary Sinise accepted the Association’s highest honor award — the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal for meritorious service to the Church, the nation, or the University. Sinise was accompanied by his daughter, Ella, B.A. 2014.
In his remarks, Sinise who played the iconic Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump, described how he found inspiration and a deep connection to disabled American veterans through this experience. His ongoing work through the Gary Sinise Foundation is dedicated to the service and honor of our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families.
The evening’s festivities began with Mass celebrated by honoree Fr. Dave Dwyer. Siobhan Fallon Hogan, M.F.A. ’85 and 2012 Alumni Achievement Award recipient, served as the evening’s emcee. Carrie Grundmayer, B.A. ’96, Alumni Association president, welcomed the guests, and President John Garvey gave the evening’s closing remarks. Students from the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music provided the evening’s entertainment.
For nearly forty years, Gary Sinise has stood as an advocate of America’s service members. It began in the early 80’s with his support of Vietnam Veterans groups and the creation of Vets Night, a program offering free dinners and performances to veterans at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His commitment continued into the ’90s working on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization which he continues to actively support. Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, his dedication to our nation’s active duty defenders, veterans and first responders has become a tireless crusade of support, service, and gratitude to all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.
His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the landmark film Forrest Gump formed an enduring connection with servicemen and women throughout the military community. After several USO handshake tours in 2003, Sinise formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004 and began entertaining troops serving at home and abroad. The band now performs close to 30 shows a year for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.
In recognition of his humanitarian work on behalf of our nation’s defenders, Sinise has earned many distinguished awards including the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Medal of Honor Society, the Spirit of the USO Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Doughboy Award, the Sylvanus Thayer Award, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association. In 2008, he received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. In 2012, Sinise was presented with the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense, was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the United States Navy and in 2013 was pinned as an honorary Marine by General James Amos, commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
In 2011, to expand upon his individual efforts, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. Its mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. Of its many outreach efforts, the Gary Sinise Foundation is building custom Smart Homes for severely wounded veterans, serving hearty meals to deploying troops and hosting spirit-boosting festivals for patients, families and medical staff at military hospitals.
Giving back to those who sacrifice for our nation and encouraging others to do the same has become Gary Sinise’s personal quest and what he hopes will endure as a legacy of service to others. “Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” says Sinise. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”
(Taken from the Gary Sinise Foundation website)
Rev. David P. Dwyer, CSP, M.Div. 2000
Rev. David P. Dwyer, CSP, M.Div., 2000, is the executive director of Busted Halo Ministries and publisher of BustedHalo.com, the Paulist Fathers’ ministry and media outreach to Catholics in their 20s and 30s. Host of “The Busted Halo Show with Father Dave,” a daily talk show on SiriusXM radio, Dave is also the co-host of the weekly TV show “Conversation with Cardinal Dolan” on EWTN and host of the “Sacraments 101” video series on YouTube. Father Dave has offered commentary for Fox News Channel, CNN, the History channel, NBC Nightly News, the Today show, The New York Times, The Daily Show, and Entertainment Tonight.
Before his career in media, Father Dave served in campus ministry at both the University of Colorado and the University of Texas and helped develop ministry programs for the military archdiocese. Prior to his ordination in May 2000, he directed television for MTV and Comedy Central. In addition to his M.Div. from Catholic University, he holds a bachelor of science in communication from Syracuse University.
Vincent Sica, B.M.E. 1983
Vincent Sica, B.M.E. 1983, is vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Mission Solutions, which develops, delivers, and operates affordable engineering and sustainment solutions for commercial, military, and intelligence users across the globe. Vinny was recently a leadership donor to Murphy’s, a new lounge and restaurant in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, which opened in fall 2016. In addition to his philanthropic efforts, Vinny currently serves on the board of directors for Volunteer Fairfax, a non-profit that promotes local volunteerism, and he is also a member of the Catholic University School of Engineering development board.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Vinny earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Catholic University. Vinny and his wife Ellen have four children and reside in Fairfax Station, Va.
Ellen Schultz, B.A. 1992
Ellen Shultz, B.A. 1992, is the executive vice president of Talent and Inclusion for The New York Times. She joined the organization in June 2016. Previously, Shultz worked for Media General as vice president and head of human resources. Before that, she worked at Time Inc., where she served as vice president of human resources operations and systems. Ellen joined Time Inc. in 1999 and held various successively senior positions at the company, including human resources director for Time Magazines in London from 2005 to 2010. She returned to New York as executive director before being promoted to vice president in 2013.
Shultz began her professional career in the retail sector before moving to talent recruitment in 1997. She earned her bachelor of arts from the Department of Drama at Catholic University in 1992.
J. Peter Donald, B.A. 2010
J. Peter Donald is assistant commissioner for Communication and Public Information for the New York City Police Department. With 50,000 employees and a budget in excess of $5B, he advises the police commissioner, mayor, and senior management on issues of perception, reputation, and media. J. Peter joined the NYPD in June of 2015 as director of communication and was promoted in July 2016. Previously, he was the top spokesman for the FBI’s largest office in New York. Earlier in his career, J. Peter worked at a boutique public relations firm in Washington, D.C., and he worked for John McCain on his presidential campaign in 2008.
J. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree in politics at Catholic University and is currently pursuing his M.S. at New York University. He was recently recognized by PRWeek in its 40-Under-40 list.
Brendan T. O'Reilly, B.A. 1987, and Maureen Devine O'Reilly, B.A. 1987
Brendan T. O’Reilly, B.A. 1987, is a financial advisor with RidgePoint Financial Partners, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial in Langhorne, Pa. He has been very active in the Alumni Association at the regional level, serving as the president of the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter and representing the Office of Admissions at high school college fairs. In addition, Brendan served on the Board of Governors from 1997 to 2007, holding the vice president position from 2001 to 2003.
Maureen Devine O’Reilly, B.A. 1987, is a credit analyst with Ascena retail group. During her undergraduate years, Maureen played softball for the Cardinals. She was also a Resident Advisor in both Spalding and Monroe Halls. Maureen has kept close ties to the University, hosting and participating in many Philadelphia alumni events, notably the Philadelphia Chapter St. Patrick’s Day Party.
Among their many accomplishments and contributions, “CUA Sweethearts” Brendan and Maureen are known in the alumni community chiefly for the Philadelphia Freshman Send-Off Party, which they have hosted at their home every year since 1996. Over the past two decades, the O’Reillys have opened their doors to hundreds of incoming students and their families.
Married for 26 years, Maureen and Brendan live in Yardley, Pa., with their three children Bridget, Aidan, and Molly.