Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni

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Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Program at Lutheran West was started in 2020 with its first class of 11 inductees honored in 2021 (delayed one year due to COVID-19). 

Lutheran West alumni have gone on to make impactful differences in their communities and the world. The Distinguished Alumni Program recognizes alumni who have had significant success and/or notable impact in their professions and their communities.

Distinguished Alumni are listed below in alphabetical order by last name. 

Cheryl Behm
Class of 1971 · Inducted 2021

Cheryl (Uffelman) Behm was born in Mishawaka, Indiana and grew up the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. After the family’s relocation when her father accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church (Lakewood), Cheryl attended grade school at Lakewood Lutheran School. She then graduated from Lutheran High School West in 1971, having been part of Coach Karen Wittrock’s very first women’s basketball team and learning from impactful teachers like Joe King, John Felten, John Prim, Karen Wittrock, and Dick Linn.

Cheryl studied Nursing at The Ohio State University and graduated summa cum laude in the spring of 1975. She began her employment at Lakewood Hospital, where she would go on to a 37-year-career. At various times throughout her career, Cheryl served as staff nurse in the Coronary Care Unit, assistant clinical nurse manager of CCU, Emergency Department staff nurse, clinical nurse manager of Lakewood’s Emergency Department, Critical Care Education Instructor, Trauma Program Manager, and was heavily involved with EMS education. She also taught at both Lorain County Community College and Cuyahoga County Community College in the infancy of their EMS education programs. Outside of Lakewood Hospital, Cheryl served as nurse recruiter/staff development for PARS Critical Care Registry, a company providing temporary nurses to hospitals. She was also employed at Amherst Hospital as a Clinical Coordinator, supervising operations in the 80-bed facility. In addition, Cheryl was Interim Trauma Program Manager at Huron Hospital in Cleveland.

Cheryl served as Parish Nurse for Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Lakewood. She was as a member of the pastoral team, serving her congregation, neighborhood, and community by promoting the concept of holistic health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In 2012, Cheryl moved to Fairview Hospital, where she was employed as EMS Coordinator and Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator for six years. In 2018, Cheryl retired after 43 years in the Cleveland Clinic Hospital system.

Cheryl married her brother’s wife’s brother’s wife’s brother in 1984. Randy and Cheryl have 2 adult sons – David LW’04 and Jon LW’07. David is an LCMS minister, currently called to Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota. He is married to Sarah (nee Eckert). Jon is married to Ashley (nee Arms; LW’07). Cheryl and Randy have 3 grandchildren – Barrett, Bryce, and Eden.

Jeffrey R. Black
Class of 1982  •  Inducted 2022

Jeffrey R. Black graduated from Lutheran High School West in 1982. While at West, he was captain of the football team and wrestling team, and named Boys’ Athlete of the Year.

After graduation, he attended Wittenberg University and in 1986 received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. He was hired by the accounting firm Deloitte in Columbus, Ohio. In 1992, he was selected to participate in the firm’s two-year Management Development Program at Deloitte’s National Office in Wilton, CT. Upon completion of that program, he transferred into the Mergers and Acquisitions Group in New York City, where ultimately he was admitted to the firm’s partnership in 1997.

In 1997, he assisted in founding the pharmaceutical company Endo International in Chadds Ford, PA and became its Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer.

He retired in 2006 to devote more time to his family and charitable endeavors. With his wife, Melinda, he established a
charitable family foundation that grants funds to organizations focused primarily on education (including LHSW), homelessness, and diversity initiatives. Combined with personal charitable contributions, the family foundation has distributed several million dollars to deserving organizations.

Jeff’s favorite memories of LHSW are the people (students, teachers, coaches, staff). He says that LHSW provided a framework for his core values, which he has carried to this day.

He is an active member at Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester, PA. Jeff greatly enjoys his family life with Melinda and their children, Jackson and Macy. He also enjoys travel, skiing, snowboarding, and other sports and fitness activities.  

John Blackburn
Class of 1978  •  Inducted 2022

John R. Blackburn is the President of Pomeroy Technologies, a U.S.-based global IT services company headquartered in Hebron, KY. He is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s sales and marketing, as well as growth strategy, for the $450M technology services and solutions firm.

From 2002 through 2022, John has held several executive leadership roles at Pomeroy, focusing on the company growth strategy. In July of 2018, Pomeroy was acquired by Getronics, a European-based IT services company with global capabilities. John was appointed Chairman of the US Operating Committee, with oversight of the US leadership team. In 2020, the Pomeroy brand was relaunched in the U.S., forming Pomeroy Technologies LLC, and John was appointed Chief Revenue Officer for the company. In 2020, he was promoted
to President.

Prior to joining Pomeroy in 2002, John was Founder, President, and CEO of Verity Solutions, which Pomeroy later acquired. John has held executive leadership positions at SARCOM, and was CEO of FrontWay Network Solutions. An integral part of the management team, John played a pivotal role in the acquisition and integration of six regional IT services companies to form a successful national IT services company.

A 39-year industry veteran, John has held sales and executive leadership positions at IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation, Basic Computer, and The Future Now. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University.

John is a 1978 graduate of Lutheran West, where he met his wife Karen (Helms), Class of 1980. Their four children, Scott ’06,
Corbin ’09, Nick ’10, and Megan ’14, are all graduates of Lutheran West. John has served on boards for the Cleveland Lutheran High School Association, was the Chairman of the Lutheran West Operating Board, and has served on the Board of the Cleveland Lutheran Educational Endowment Fund (CLEEF).

Dr. Jean Cibula
Class of 1983 · Inducted 2021

At Lutheran West, Jean lettered in cross country and track and won awards for musical performance (violin & choir) and academics (Ohio Academic Scholar, National Merit Scholar, Salutatorian 1983). She credits the academic rigor at LHSW with enabling her to obtain scholarships that paid for over half of her tuition during her undergraduate years at Case Western Reserve University. At CWRU, Jean continued to be a well-rounded student, lettering all four years (fencing), serving as a charter member of her sorority (Phi Mu Fraternity), earning an award for her positive contribution to campus life, and serving as President of the campus Panhellenic Council. She earned academic awards including Mather Alumnae Award for Excellence in Biology, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in 1987.

Jean went on to earn her M.D. from CWRU in 1991, then went on to The University of Florida, Gainesville, where from 1991-1997  completed her residency in Neurology, and completed a fellowship in Epilepsy & Behavioral Neurology. From 1997-2000, Dr. Cibula was an Assistant Professor in Neurology at the University of Kentucky. She also served as the instituition’s Acting Director of the UK Comprehensive Epilepsy Program from 1998-1999. From 2000-2008, Dr. Cibula was a private practice neurologist at Mt. Carmel Health System in Columbus, OH. Since 2008, Dr. Cibula has worked at the University of Florida College of Medicine (Gainesville, FL) in roles including Assistant and Associate Professor in Neurology, Chief of the Epilepsy Division, and Neurodiagnostics Medical Director. She became a fellow in the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (2010) and the American Epilepsy Society (2017). She has served on many committees for these international organizations as well as for the College of Medicine and the University.

Recognized as one of the Best Doctors in America since 2011 and a Castle Connolly Top Doctor since 2014, Dr. Cibula maintains an active clinical practice in neurology, specializing in medication resistant epilepsy, epilepsy surgery, and intensive care electroencephalography monitoring. She was awarded the 2007 Program Service Award by the Epilepsy Foundation of Central Ohio, and the UFHealth Physician Recognition Award in 2016. She was a UF Exemplary Teacher in 2011, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas San Antonio Department of Anesthesiology as part of her research endeavors. Her primary research focus is electroencephalography education, and she has numerous publications and presentations.

Dr. Cibula has been married to David Nessl since 1997. She enjoys gardening and riding horses, competing in dressage and combined training.

Dr. Henry Fabian
Class of 1980 · Inducted 2021

Henry F. Fabian Jr., M.D., MBA, FAAOS graduated from Lutheran High School West in 1980. He was valedictorian and received 7 varsity letters from 1976-1980 in cross country, basketball, and track. He then earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, where he was a decathlete, ran the 400-meter, threw javelin, and captained the men’s soccer team. In 1990, Henry earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Medical College of Ohio, graduating with highest honors as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Society. His fellowships included a Pediatric and Adult Deformity Spine Surgery Fellowship at Colorado Spine Center (1995-1996), an International Orthopedic Surgery Trauma Fellowship in Hannover, Germany (1996), and an International Spine Fellowship in Heidelberg, Germany (1996). Dr. Fabian completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital/University Hospitals in Cleveland from 1990-1995, where he was named Surgery Intern of the Year in 1991.

Dr. Fabian has become an internationally renowned spine surgeon and leader in research and advancements in minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery techniques and implant design. He is an international lecturer, faculty member, and published author in spine surgery. In 2008, he became the first surgeon in the world to perform a lumbar spinal fusion utilizing a minimally invasive horizontally expandable interbody fusion device. Dr. Fabian has been awarded 8 patents and has 2 pending patents for his inventions in minimally invasive spine surgery implants. He serves as a consultant to multiple companies in spine surgery and osteobiologics. Dr. Fabian is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Vertebration, Inc., a company that developed and commercialized the world’s first horizontally expandable minimally invasive spinal fusion implant, based upon Dr. Fabian’s design and patents. He is the Director of Wyoming Spine Institute and Rural Spine Care, P.C., as well as serving as Surgeon and Managing Partner for both the Wyoming Spine Institute and Spine Center of Steamboat Springs, CO. Dr. Fabian has been recognized as a U.S. national leader in patient outcomes and performance metrics and has earned the Patient’s Choice Award each year from 2015-2020.

Dr. Fabian has served as the Team Physician for the United States States Ski Team (2005-present) and as the Chairman of the Board of the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, CO (2013-2016). Dr. Fabian has also served as a mission trip team leader with Impact Africa. In 2018, he led humanitarian efforts for both medical and evangelical care for destitute populations in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Lisa Fenn
Class of 1992 · Inducted 2021

Lisa Fenn was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Messiah Lutheran for grade school and then Lutheran High School West, graduating in 1992. Lisa went on to attend Cornell University, where she earned her degree in Communications. She was hired as a feature producer at ESPN, a position she held for thirteen years. Her work at ESPN earned six Emmy Awards and three Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism. She has been featured on ESPN, Good Morning America, and World News Tonight.

In 2016, Lisa released her memoir, entitled Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family. This deeply moving memoir examines the unexpected bonds that would transform three lives. Carry On is a touching tale of an unlikely family forged through barriers of race, class, and disability. It is a powerful memoir about grit, love, hope, and faith—and the courage to carry on, even in the most extraordinary circumstances. Carry On has won numerous awards, including a Friends of American Literature Award, a Christopher Award, and was an NAACP Image Award finalist for Best Literature by a Debut Author. Learn more about Carry On, including where to purchase the book, at www.carryonbook.com.

Today Lisa is a sought-after public presenter, speaking on leadership, poverty, and disability. She incorporates into her messages her Christian faith and its relevance in both her media career and her daily life. Lisa resides in Beverly, MA with her husband and two young children.

Matt Fish
Class of 1991  •  Inducted 2022

Matt Fish is a restaurant entrepreneur and a musician. His connection to music guides his vision and permeates every aspect of the restaurants he founded: Melt Bar and Grilled. Fish wants every visit to be like attending a rock concert – exciting and memorable; and every menu item to be like a song – unique, meaningful, and special in its own way.

Fish started his “real world” culinary education in 1992 when he got a job at a restaurant in his hometown of Parma, OH. He fell in love with the work and it derailed his plan of becoming an elementary school teacher. Matt says, “Once I stumbled into the restaurant world, a light bulb went off and I said, OK … I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. So now it’s going to be a bar and a restaurant.”

He augmented his self-taught, on-the-job training with a degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management from Cuyahoga Community College, which he earned in 1997. Fish, who started his culinary career in several popular independent Cleveland restaurants, always had a dream of opening his own restaurant. For his restaurant, he wanted a completely unique concept. His earliest cooking memories from childhood were making grilled cheese with his mom, and it was always his go-to food of choice. Quick, simple, and delicious. A memory of childhood. Gourmet comfort food.

When musicians create their art, they don’t put it in front of a group for validation – they put it out into the world because they know it’s art. The same can be said of Matt’s art – the gourmet grilled cheese. It’s real, it’s authentic, it’s nostalgic. Each sandwich has a story to tell, just like a song.

The first Melt Bar and Grilled opened in Lakewood, OH in 2006, and was busy from day one, with lines around the block, lengthy waits for a table, and insanely positive buzz. Soon, there was a second location. Then a third. Now, with a double-digit location count throughout Ohio, Melt Bar and Grilled remains true to Matt’s vision and passion for awesome grilled cheese and gourmet comfort foods.

Matt makes regular visits to Lutheran West’s Culinary Arts classes to discuss his journey in the culinary industry with current students.

Bruce Glawe
Class of 1971  •  Inducted 2022

Bruce Glawe was born and raised in the Cleveland area and lived in North Olmsted while attending Lutheran West, where he graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1971. He attended Messiah Lutheran School where his great uncle, Paul Glawe, served as Principal. His sister, Laura (Glawe) Barnes ’70, and brother, Pastor Jeff Glawe ’77, both attended Lutheran West. Bruce’s extended family’s roots run deep at Lutheran West, with close to 20 aunts and cousins having attended since the 1950s. He played sports at LHSW, but his true love was baseball and he played in various Cleveland area leagues since LHSW did not have a team at that time. He remembers playing the role of Brassett in the stage play Charlie’s Aunt, with Walter Senney playing Charley. He credits the spiritual and academic focus he learned at LHSW with his success in his later life, where he has served in leadership roles in education, banking, not for profits, and Lutheran churches.

Bruce graduated magna cum laude from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with majors in mathematics and education. While at IIT, he played all four years on both the basketball and baseball teams. After graduating, he spent his first five years as a math teacher and head baseball coach (he also coached basketball and football) at Riverside Brookfield High School. He left the academic world to pursue a career in banking, joining the Harris Bank in Chicago in 1980. He then earned his MBA from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management graduating with highest honors. He became President of a Chicago bank in 1986, a title he would keep at five other banks over the next 36 years, spending time at BMO/Harris Bank, Firstar/US Bank, and several Chicago area community banks. He concluded his banking career at Oxford Bank & Trust, where he served as President & CEO for 26 years. The bank was sold to GreenState Credit Union at year-end 2021 and Bruce served for four months as their Chicago Market President before he retired in May of 2022.

Bruce has always believed in being a servant leader. He was the Chairman of the Naperville, Illinois YMCA, where he led a capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art swim and recreation center. He also served on the Board of Indian Prairie School District 204 and was instrumental in getting a $135 million referendum passed to build Metea Valley High School. Bruce has been a member of Young Presidents’ Organization and YPO Gold since 1992, which has allowed him and his wife of 47 years, Gale, to travel the world. Bruce and Gale were founding members of Alleluia! Lutheran Church in Naperville in 1996, serving on various committees. Together, they have chaired capital campaigns at several Lutheran churches. The Glawes split their time between Naperville and their new home on Lake Wylie in Charlotte, NC, where they will become active at Christ the King Lutheran. In his spare time, Bruce has amassed a large sports card collection and remains an avid Cleveland sports fan. His close friends call him “Buckeye Bruce” since he and Gale have been longtime season ticket holders and have attended 14 OSU bowl games. They have been blessed with three children (Garrett, Britney, and Kirstin) and 6 grandchildren (ages 2-10) with a 7th arriving in November. Bruce gives thanks to all of his teachers and coaches at LHSW for creating a solid foundation for his life. Above all, he gives thanks to his Lord and Savior for all of the blessings in his life! He thanks LHSW for the honor of being named a Distinguished Alumnus and hopes that his life story can serve as inspiration for current and future students of LHSW. Go Longhorns!

Nathan Hessler
Class of 1988 · Inducted 2021

Nathan Hessler, J.D. graduated from Lutheran West in 1988. While at West, he played football, basketball, baseball, and was a member of the wrestling team. During the 1988 football season, he was 1st Team All-Inland Conference on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams (the first time a player was voted all-conference in three positions in the same year).

Nathan went on to Valparaiso University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1992 and a Juris Doctor in 1995. During his undergraduate years, he played football and was active in Theta Chi Fraternity and the Greek Social Responsibility Committee. As a law student, he participated in the Criminal Law Clinic.

In 1995, Nathan began his law career with Wegman Hessler in Independence, Ohio, where he became a partner in 2006. Early in his career, Nathan participated in the representation of several Lutheran grade schools as part of the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case which was resulted in the landmark 2002 decision by the United States Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of an Ohio law providing vouchers to Cleveland students to attend parochial schools of their choice and further holding that the Cleveland voucher program did not violate the Establishment Clause to the United States Constitution. Today, Nathan leads the Business Services practice at Wegman Hessler and is involved in a wide variety of business and strategic initiatives and the coordination of those initiatives as part of the overall mission of the firm’s for-profit and non-profit clients. As such, Nathan effectively advises and protects clients facing legal and competitive challenges and facilitates the resolution of problems before they develop into potentially crippling disputes. Nathan serves as a member of the Americas Leadership Team for MTD Products Inc and serves as a key liaison between MTD’s in-house legal and business teams providing him with a unique perspective on matters related to business operations, strategy, and future growth. Nathan is one of five Wegman Hessler attorneys to be recognized nationally in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Commercial Litigation.

Nathan is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. He has served on various local boards and committees, including those of Fairview General Hospital, Lutheran Medical Center, Lutheran Chaplaincy Service, Lutheran Children's Aid and Family Services (President), Lutheran Elderhood Foundation, and Lakewood Country Club (President, Treasurer), Messiah Lutheran Church (Chair of Administration & Finance Committee), and St. Ignatius Swim Team Boosters (Treasurer).

Nathan’s connections to Lutheran West are extensive—many of his family members are also alumni and have (and currently serve) the school in some capacity. Nathan served as the Chairman of the Cleveland Lutheran High School Association Board of Directors from 2012 - 2021. He and wife Melanie have 4 children: Jon, Sam, Grace '19, and Elizabeth '25.

Dr. Jessica Khouri
Class of 1992 · Inducted 2021

Jessica (Schiffrik) Khouri graduated in 1992 as her class valedictorian. At Lutheran West, she participated in numerous drama productions and both vocal and instrumental music programs.  

Jessica then attended Denison University on a full scholarship. There, she was active in Chapel and in Campus Crusade for Christ. With Campus Crusade, Jessica made three trips to Albania to share the Gospel. During her college years, she was a summer research scholar at MetroHealth and a summer extern at Lakewood Hospital and Columbia Urgent Care Center.

In 1996, Jessica graduated from Denison University summa cum laude and entered The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She met a fellow medical student, Issa Khouri, and they were married in 1997. In 1998, Jessica and Issa went on their first medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic. They were blessed with the birth of their first child, Abigail, in 1999.

Jessica received her Doctor of Medicine degree summa cum laude in 2000 and the couple moved to California. Jessica worked in medical research, completed a year of pediatric residency, and gave birth to their second child, Zachary, in 2003. The focus of her research was in assistance of the doctor who developed a drug called BabyBIG to treat infant botulism. Jessica became a pediatric clinical specialist, managing and authorizing the release of BabyBIG to hospitals. In 2012, she became Senior Medical Officer, Research and Operations for BabyBIG for the California Department of Health. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, she was asked to serve on the California State Department’s COVID response team’s therapeutic task force.

Jessica and Issa had their third child, Amelia, in 2005. She felt the tug to her heart to get back to the mission field, and participated in five medical mission trips between 2014 and 2019, travelling to Keyna, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Albania. Jessica is also a trained Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children who have been brought into the court system.

Reflecting on her years at Lutheran West, Jessica said, “My years at West were formative. I grew in knowledge and faith. I learned that God is in control. Any achievements I have made are received in the glory they bring to God.”

Deborah L. McFadden
Class of 1975  •  Inducted 2022

An internationally known leader in the disability arena, Deborah L. McFadden has served as the United States Commissioner for Disabilities in the Department of Health and Human Services and held senior executive positions in corporate and non-profit settings. Her focus on policy and legislation, coalition building, strategic partnerships, and advocating for full access and equal pay has positively impacted generations of people with disabilities and their families. Her work in international aid and international adoption has changed the lives of thousands of children worldwide.  

As a person with a disability herself, McFadden has devoted her career to improving the lives of people with physical and cognitive challenges. Her focus has been clearing the path for full accessibility, providing access to the rights and privileges that should be afforded to all, and increasing acceptance and understanding of disabilities. Her passion is reflected in her personal life, as she adopted and advocated for three children, two with disabilities. Two of her children are USA Paralympians, one of whom has become the most honored and recognized wheelchair athlete in the world.

McFadden served as President and Founder of Competitive Edge Management Associates (CEMA), an organization
dedicated to increasing the “competitive edge” of people with disabilities in public recognition, access to higher education, equitable pay, sponsorships, and inclusion. She successfully lobbied the United States Olympic/Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for equal pay for Paralympic athletes and broke the “glass ceiling” in securing corporate sponsorships for athletes with disabilities.

McFadden secured $44 million in aid for entering college freshman with disabilities and served as a recognized spokesperson on SSI/SSDI/VR programs, helping individuals and families understand and access critical benefits. As Disabilities Consultant for Rising Phoenix, an Emmy Award-winning Netflix film, she helped tell the story of the Paralympic Movement. She provided counsel and served as media liaison/spokesperson for her daughter in a landmark lawsuit against Howard County Public Schools as her daughter fought to be treated as an equal member of her high school track team. This led to passage of the Fitness and Equity Act in Maryland, which then became a federal mandate.

She was on the front line during the formative stages of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and saw the bill signed into law from her position as Commissioner of Disabilities. At that time, she was the highest-ranking female Presidential Appointee with a disability in government service. As Commissioner, Ms. McFadden oversaw a large national network of organizations and was responsible for a budget of over $100 million. In this role, she created The National Agenda, a document outlining strategies, education, legal, medical and social services necessary to achieve full integration into society for people with disabilities. The Agenda resulted in unprecedented outreach in home ownership, biomedical ethics, personal assistance services, early intervention, empowerment, leadership development, and pediatric HIV/AIDS support.  

Her international work has included consultation in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Romania, and at The Vatican, advising on health care policy and humanitarian services and consulting directly with King Faud, US Cardinals, and the Pope.

Other career positions include Founder and President, International Children’s Alliance; Director of Career Services for Disabled Students, University of Maryland; and National Project Director at Mainstream. She has served on advisory boards including the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, the World Committee on Disabilities, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, and others. She is a founding member of Athletics for All, and a sought-after interviewee and public speaker.

Jan Morrison
Class of 1973 · Inducted 2021

Jan (Kozak) Morrison was born to parents George and Doris Kozak and called Christ Lutheran Church her home congregation during childhood. She attended grade school through 1969 at Luther Memorial before attending Lutheran High School West from 1969-1973. Jan credits Lutheran West for inspiring her to become a teacher, saying that influential faculty and the supportive community at Lutheran West guided her in her calling to become an educator. In 1977 she received degrees in
Elementary and Secondary Education from Concordia Teachers’ College in River Forest, IL. She accepted her first position in education teaching Home Economics at Chicago-area Luther South High School.

Jan returned to her native Cleveland, married fellow LHSW graduate Hart Morrison (Class of 1973), and began teaching 7th and 8th grade at St. Thomas Lutheran School in Rocky River. She also taught Home Economics for Lakewood’s adult education program and for Rocky River’s summer school program. In 1995, Jan accepted a position at Bethany Lutheran School in Parma.

She says her biggest teaching influence is her late sister Lynn, who was a teacher at Redeemer Christian School in Cuyahoga Falls until her passing in 1992. Jan says, “I have learned that as a teacher, I never know what influences are affecting those children in my classroom and the most important word I need to share with them is the value of empathy.” Jan values the time spent with each student, saying, “It is such a blessing when as seniors, they are ready and able to move on to what God has planned for them.” Jan also credits her brother, Ken Kozak LW’72 with being a primary influence in her teaching ministry and her decision to attend Lutheran West. Ken is married to Nancy (Parobek) Kozak, a fellow 1972 graduate.

Jan served on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board of Lutheran West for 12 years. She recalls voting ‘YES’ to keep Lutheran East open when it was in danger of closing. Jan says, “It has been a blessing to teach 8th graders for 25 years at Bethany and encourage them to continue their education at West.”

The Morrison family grew to include sons Joel LW’03 and Sam LW’06 and has grown even more with a new generation. Joel and wife Ann have three sons: Luke, Drew, and Blake; Sam and wife Kristen have two children: Noah and Sadie.

Ruth Pangrace
Class of 1969  •  Inducted 2022

Ruthie Bomba attended Bethany Lutheran Church and School and Lutheran High School West. She met John Pangrace at age 14, who she married after college in 1973. After high school, Ruth briefly attended Cooper School of Art, then enrolled at Cleveland State, knowing that being a teacher was her calling.

Her career began as an art teacher in Cuyahoga Heights. Ruth then taught art and was a classroom Pre-K-8th-grade teacher at Lakewood Lutheran, Bethany, St. Thomas, West Park, and St. Paul Westlake. Ruth was also a graduate assistant at Cleveland State in the science department, which led to her Master’s in Gifted & Talented Education and a 10-year stint teaching post-graduate classes in CSU’s Gifted & Talented Department. She is dedicated to meeting the spiritual, social and emotional needs—as well as the academic needs—of exceptional students.

At St. Paul Westlake, Ruth began REACH, a program for students identified as gifted and talented. In addition to having access to a higher-level curriculum, the students participated in the Ohio Center for Law Related Education Youth for Justice project and competition in Columbus. During that time, Ruth collaborated with Bethany teacher Ed Ristau to create Arts Seminar. This program brought together Lakewood Lutheran and St. Paul students to create chapel dramas, combining writing, theater, art, and music instruction. The chapel dramas were then presented at area Lutheran elementary schools.

In 2002, Ruth began working as an Intervention Specialist for Lakewood Schools. She taught self-contained classes of
identified students at Emerson, Lincoln, and Harding Middle School. Also at Lakewood, Ruth coached Academic Challenge teams, Classroom of Champions, OCLRE Project Citizen, Youth for Justice, Power of the Pen, and Middle School Mock Trial. Many of these teams won state championships during those years. She organized Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Days and assisted in Drama Club productions.

Ruth was named a Jennings Scholar in 2004, Harding Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2008, Lakewood City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2014, and won the Martha Holden Jennings Master Teacher Award in 2014.

The Martha Holden Jennings award made it possible for Ruth to create the HIROS program (Helping Immigrants and Refugees Obtain Support) in the Lakewood schools. Her students befriended refugee students in elementary and middle schools for three years. They engaged in tutoring, mentoring, sharing their cultures’ foods and games, and exploring Cleveland together on field trips. HIROS had a significant impact on the relationships among young people from different cultures.

Ruth served on the board of Rocky River Community Theater for 5 years, appearing in several productions. This experience sparked an interest in performance, which led to becoming an actress/educator for the non-profit group Women in History for 20 years. Ruth continues to be on the board of Women in History, serving as secretary and is in charge of scheduling. She currently portrays 12 notable American women in costume and character, in addition to portraying Mary, Katie Luther and Old Testament Ruth. She enjoys sharing women’s stories with audiences of all ages in churches, schools, civic groups, libraries, and festivals. After retirement, Ruth volunteers at the Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants, a ministry of Building Hope in the City, as a tutor, child care worker and art teacher. She has taken additional ELL and Multicultural Learning courses from Laverne and Ashland University. As a CYC Wet Hen sailor and skipper, she began H2O, a Help to Others opportunity for CYC women to support the Hope Center of BHITC through volunteerism and donations. Ruth also volunteers with Meals on Wheels and helps in the local schools as a Power of the Pen judge, Destination
Imagination volunteer, and National History Day coach.

Ruth and John live in Rocky River and are grateful that all three of their wonderful children and three granddaughters live nearby.

Dr. John Raquet
Class of 1985 · Inducted 2021

John F. Raquet graduated from Lutheran High School West in 1985, then from the United States Air Force Academy, where he was a Distinguished Graduate in the Class of 1989. He holds a Master of Science degree in Aero/Astro Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1991) and a Ph.D. in Geomatics Engineering from the University of Calgary (1998).

Dr. Raquet has over 30 years of experience in navigation-related research and development. During his
graduate studies at MIT, he developed autonomous docking algorithms for the NASA space shuttle. He then proceeded to the 746th Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, where he was instrumental in the development of a new aircraft flight reference system that combined inertial, differential GPS, and ground transponder measurements to provide high-accuracy truth data for testing other navigation systems. Dr. Raquet earned a PhD at the University of Calgary, where he pioneered the use of a network of reference receivers for near centimeter-level GPS accuracy over large coverage areas. His core
algorithm has been implemented and deployed throughout the world. In 1998, he began as an Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) professor, and has pursued research areas including image-aided inertial navigation, navigation using signals of opportunity, pseudolite/beacon-based navigation, GPS multipath mitigation, space navigation, precision differential GPS, and GPS receiver design.

Dr. Raquet served for 22 years as a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at AFIT, where he was also the Founding Director of the Advanced Navigation Technology (ANT) Center. Dr. Raquet was the research advisor for 58 Masters-level students and 16 PhD students. He was also responsible for teaching all of the GPS-related classes at AFIT. His professional credentials include the publication over 190 navigation-related conference and journal papers and the instruction of over 75 navigation short courses. Dr. Raquet has been an active participant in the Institute of Navigation (ION), having served as a session chair, program chair, track chair, general chair of ION conferences, and on the ION Council. Recently, he served a term as President of the ION. He received the 2006 Air Force McLucas Basic Research Award (Honorable Mention), 2002 Institute of Navigation Early Achievement Award, the 1994 International Test and Evaluation Association (ITEA) Time-Space Position Instrumentation Data Collection and Electro-Optic Test and Evaluation Award, and the 1989 John von Neumann Award (presented to the top cadet in the Astronautical Engineering Department at the U.S. Air Force Academy). He was AFIT’s first U.S. Fulbright Scholar, serving as a visiting professor at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland for six months in 2010.

Currently, Dr. Raquet is the Vice President for Dayton Operations of Integrated Solutions for Systems (IS4S), where develops open-architecture navigation approaches for the Department of Defense that are less expensive and quicker to deploy than current approaches. John and wife Cynthia have been married for 30 years and together they have eight children. They have recently published a book entitled Purposeful and Persistent Parenting. For the past 17 years, he has served as an elder/pastor at Arbor Church in Dayton, OH, where he regularly teaches, preaches on occasion, and provides spiritual leadership.

Walter Senney
Class of 1973 · Inducted 2021

Wally Senney graduated in 1973 from Lutheran West, where he was a multi-sport athlete in wrestling and cross-country. He went on to attend and play tennis at Tri-C and Cleveland State University. Following his 1978 graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing, Wally began his professional career with Met-Chem, Inc. He became integral to the company’s growth, and today his business entities include eight local companies plus manufacturing companies around the country.

In 1998, Senney donated his time and financial resources to transform the outdated stadium with the addition artificial turf, field lighting, spectator stands, concession stand, eight-lane all-weather track, and track & field event areas. At the 1999 groundbreaking, the stadium was renamed Alumni Field to honor the gift made by Senney and a bequest from Richard Luecke.

Senney has served Lutheran West in a multitude of capacities, including co-chairing two major capital campaigns. The Senneys funded the creation of Senney Honors Academy in 2014 and continue to provide two Presidential Scholarships per year to incoming freshmen. Additionally, The Senney Family Scholarship program, established in 2003, provides scholarships for Lutheran West students annually.

Senney has served on the CLEEF Finance Board, St. Thomas Lutheran School Board and Vestry Council, and Luther Memorial School Board (treasurer). He was awarded the CLEEF Outstanding Lutheran School Leadership Award in 2016. Recipients of this award have shown an exceptional dedication to Lutheran education. The Senney family has been faithful benefactors of the Beck Center for the Arts, where Wally serves on the President’s Advisory Board. The new YMCA in Lakewood was built with the Senneys as one of the main contributors. The Senneys also volunteer at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s food bank in Lakewood. As part of the Caribbean Children’s Foundation, Wally has participated in eight mission trips to Haiti. There, Wally has worked at the orphanage and elder care housing, as well as spearheaded a new a trade school. There are very limited schools available to children in Haiti—by way of scholarships, Wally makes it possible for 15 Haitian children to attend school where they receive an education, a uniform, and possibly their only meal of the day.

The Senneys split their time between Key West and Lakewood. Wally is on the planning committee to restore St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Key West and is a supporter/advisor for local non-profit Tropic Cinema. Key West is also the location of his first restaurant, Sara Beth’s. Wally and wife Joyce are blessed with 3 children (Sara, Drew LW’05, Trey LW’02) and 7 grandchildren. He enjoys swimming, golf, and running (he has logged 35 marathons).

Judith (Luekens) Sherman-Macomber
Class of 1960 · Inducted 2021

Judith (Luekens) Sherman-Macomber attended Luther Memorial for grade school and went on to  graduate from Lutheran High School West in 1960. She then attended Valparaiso University, where she was a member of the Class of 1964.

A multi-time Grammy Award nominee and the winner of the award for Classical Producer of the Year for 1993, 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2014, Judith Sherman has made an indelible contribution to the catalogue of recorded classical music.

Early in her career, she was employed at WBAI-FM in New York City, beginning as an engineer and over the course of four years working her way up to become Producer and then Music Director. During the summers of 1976 through 1994, she was the recording engineer of the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. In 2009, she received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, the highest award given by Chamber Music America.

Judith currently works as a freelance recording producer and engineer in New York. Her recordings have appeared on many labels, including Nonesuch, Telarc, Cedille, Bridge, Arabesque, CRI, CBS, Koch, and New World.

Judith is married to violinist Curtis Macomber.

Steven Strah
Class of 1982 · Inducted 2021

Born in Cleveland’s Kamm's Corners area, Steve transferred to Lutheran West in the 10th grade and graduated in 1982.

Attending Lutheran West turned out to be one of the best experiences for him. According to Steve, it was a “defining moment that changed everything for him—not only meeting his wife Monika but learning from the wonderful array of teachers that he had during a critical time in his life.” He says that Lutheran West allowed him to create friends for life.

Following Lutheran West, Steve attended Cleveland State briefly, then Baldwin Wallace, while he worked for The Illuminating Company as a meter reader. Throughout his career, he has held variety of utility leadership roles including Regional President of Ohio Edison; Vice President, Distribution Support; and Senior Vice President, FirstEnergy Utilities. He was elected Senior Vice President and CFO of FirstEnergy in 2018, followed by President of in 2020, and now holds the position of CEO of FirstEnergy.

Steve enjoys working with very diverse teams throughout his entire career at FirstEnergy, and feels grateful that his work with local and regional communities and customers allows him to continually “place service above self.”

Steve and his wife Monika have a son, Hunter.

Brent Stehlik
Class of 1995  •  Inducted 2022

Brent Stehlik is currently an Operating Partner at RedBird Capital Partners and as well as the President and Co-Founder of OneTeam Partners, an athlete licensing firm founded three years ago along with the NFLPA and MLBPA. Brent has received national recognition as a recipient of the prestigious Sports Business Journal “Forty Under 40” Award (2013) and the International Leaders In Sport “Under 40” Award (2017).

In his current role at OneTeam Partners, Brent is responsible for the day-to-day activity of the business and growth of the commercial licenses and marketing opportunities. Brent has helped lead the company to a valuation over $2 billion in its third year, including nearly a 5x increase from initial EBITDA. During his tenure as President, the company has also added Player Association relationships with the MLSPA, USWNTPA, NWLSPA, WNBA and LCSPA as well as Collegiate Athletes. Brent is also focused on other RedBird sports investments, including the commercial aspects of RedBird FC (comprised of Toulouse FC, the Rajasthan Royals, and Zelus Analytics).

Prior to joining RedBird, Brent had a successful 20-year career leading various sports organizations. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer of the Cleveland Browns, where he oversaw all aspects of revenue generation for the franchise. Under his direction the team set sales records for season tickets, suites, and corporate partnerships. The team increased its gate revenue by almost 20% during this period and had the second-fastest-growing corporate partnership revenue in the NFL.

Prior to joining the Browns, Brent was Senior Vice President of business operations for the San Diego Padres, where he managed all aspects of revenue generation, operations, and marketing. Brent has held additional roles at the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A native of Lakewood, Ohio, holds a B.A. in Sports Business from the University of Mount Union. Brent and his wife, Molly, reside in Westlake with their four children.

Brian Upton 
Class of 1987  •  Inducted 2022

Born and raised on Cleveland’s west side, Brian Upton graduated from Lutheran West in 1987. He previously attended Luther Memorial School and Christ Lutheran Church in Cleveland, which he credits with passing on to him the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Gospel.

At Lutheran West, Brian participated in various music performances and drama productions. He credits former faculty members Martie Muth and Ron Blackley, in particular, with playing formational roles in his time at the school. Brian went on to attend Kent State University, where he joined Delta Tau Delta fraternity, wrote for the college’s newspaper and, in 1992, graduated from its School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He returned to Cleveland and began a career in public relations and marketing, holding account management roles at MHW Advertising, Edward Howard & Company, and Akhia Communications.
It was also during these early years in his career that Brian found a spiritual home at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ohio City. The Lord would do a tremendous work in Brian’s life through this city congregation, where he also witnessed the Gospel’s transformative impact, particularly in communities contending with poverty, relational brokenness, and systemic inequities. For several years, Brian led efforts to start a new daughter congregation for Trinity in downtown Cleveland’s burgeoning residential neighborhoods. It was during this time that he transitioned into full-time ministry and, in 2002, married Sarah (Hunger) Upton, a fellow (1982) graduate of Lutheran West.
In 2003, his home congregation established Building Hope in the City with Brian as one of its co-founders. Brian has invested the balance of his career at Building Hope, a faith-forward community development organization that he leads as Executive Director. Today, Brian’s leadership impacts the lives of 7,000+ local residents annually, employs more than 45 people in second-chance employment through two social enterprise ventures, has supported the start-up of many new city churches and non-profit agencies, and helps welcome thousands of refugees who annually arrive in Cleveland. The organization has most recently set its sights on addressing the lack of affordable supportive housing on the city’s near west side. For Brian, this work is an extension of the church…making the Gospel tangible, especially for those the world underestimates.

Brian has previously served on the board of Luther Memorial School and on Lutheran West’s Operating Board. He currently serves on the Ohio Valley Member Board of Thrivent Financial. He and Sarah live in Lakewood, and they are members of St. Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood.

Mark Watson, J.D.
Class of 1986  •  Inducted 2022

Mark Watson grew up in Lakewood, attending Lakewood public schools until attending Lutheran West for high school. Mark was involved in a wide range of activities at West, from choir to Academic Challenge, but athletics were his biggest extracurricular interest. He earned 8 varsity letters in football, wrestling, and track and was blessed with head coaches Joel Gesch, Dwayne Jobst, and Joe King. His senior year football team won the Inland East Conference Championship. That year, he was named 1st-Team All-Conference, 1st-Team All-District, 1st-Team All-Region, and Honorable Mention All-State at cornerback. In wrestling, he was a four-time 2nd-Team All-Conference, Captain, MVP, and District qualifier. In track, he was a District qualifier. Mark was also named to the 1986 Inland Conference All-Academic Team. Mark met his wife Stacy (’88) at West and all four of their children graduated from West: Derek (’07), Bradley (’11), Justin (’14), and Parker (’19).

Mark went on to Case Western Reserve University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with honors in 1990. He wrestled for Case and worked all four years as a researcher for the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center, world-renowned for use of neuromodulation (functional electrical stimulation) to restore hand and arm control in paralyzed individuals, building and programming microprocessor-based implants.

Upon graduation, Mark started working for Ford Motor Company, enjoying a 16-year-career in engineering and management. During this time, Mark received the Ford Motor Company General Manager’s Excellence Award (1993), the Society of Plastic Engineers’ (SPE) Most Innovative Use of Recycled Plastic Award (1993), the Ford Customer Driven Quality Award (1995), and earned an MBA from Ashland University, summa cum laude (1995). In 2002, he was selected by Ford for entry into the MIT/Sloan School of Management Leaders for Manufacturing executive development program, but decided to pursue a career as a patent attorney.  

Mark attended Cleveland-Marshall College of Law while working at Ford and graduated first in his class with a JD, summa cum laude (2007). He then started working for Calfee, Halter & Griswold, LLP, in Cleveland, specializing in intellectual property law. Mark worked in both prosecution (helping companies get technology patented) and litigation (asserting and defending patent rights in court). His practice focused mostly on patents and trade secrets associated with electronics and software. This allowed Mark to become a leader and frequent speaker on the interpretation of patent laws associated with software as courts struggled to apply antiquated statutes to modern technology. In 2015, he authored the winning brief in a seminal federal court case in California that invalidated a software patent (Shortridge v. Foundation Const. Payroll Service, LLC), later affirmed under appeal to the Federal Circuit court. Mark’s interpretation and application of the law in this case has since been used as a model for determining the scope of patentability afforded to software under US patent laws. The case is also cited by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as an example for software patent eligibility guidance in the USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedure.

Throughout his time at Calfee, Mark has progressed from associate to equity partner of the firm. He was named one of US News & World Report’s Best Lawyers in America®, Patent Law, in 2020 and 2021. Mark was also named US News & World Report’s 2021 “Lawyer of the Year” in Cleveland for Patent Law in 2021. He now serves as Nordson Corporation’s Senior Corporate Counsel, Intellectual Property.

Stacy Watson
Class of 1988  •  Inducted 2022

Stacy grew up in the West Park area of Cleveland., attending Cleveland public schools until her parents became interested in Lakewood Lutheran through friends. Stacy started at Lakewood Lutheran in the 4th grade, making lasting friendships that she still has today.

Stacy attended Lutheran West from 1984 to 1988. She was a cheerleader for football and basketball all four years, earning her first varsity letter as a sophomore. Stacy feels that Lutheran West was truly a blessing and was the start of God’s plan for the rest of her life. Stacy met her husband Mark Watson ’86 her freshman year. They got married after Stacy graduated and they started a family. They knew they wanted their children to experience the same guidance and education by amazing teachers and coaches that Lutheran West could offer. Their four boys attended Lutheran West: Derek ’07, Bradley ’11, Justin ’14, and Parker ’19. They followed in their parents footsteps in their involvement in drama, track, football, and wrestling, and even had many of the same teachers and coaches as Stacy and Mark.

After graduation, Stacy worked in retail and banking while Mark got his undergraduate degree. While working as a head teller in a bank, she was robbed at gunpoint twice. Stacy decided it was time to make a career change. She always wanted to have her own business with the flexibility to work full-time and be a full-time mom, and decided to make real estate her career. She went to Hondros College and became a licensed realtor in 1997. Stacy says that the lessons she learned at Lutheran West gave her a solid foundation to build her business and taught her to always have a mindset of service and gratitude with every person that she is blessed to help.

In her first year, she earned “Rookie of the Year 1998” at Realty One. From the start, Stacy marketed herself as her own brand, growing her business organically with simply great service and integrity. Rather than joining an established realtor team, Stacy felt that by remaining an individual agent, she could best service her clients. Over her 25-year career, Stacy has been recruited to join RE/MAX, Howard Hanna, and most recently Keller Williams, maintaining her practice as an individual agent. Always looking to broaden her services, Stacy has earned designations of Accredited Buyers’ Representative, Accredited Staging Professional, Relocation Specialist, Luxury Agent Specialist, and Sports and Entertainment Agent Specialist.  

Stacy has received the Northern Ohio Live Magazine Individual Agent Award, Ohio Association of Realtors President Sales Award, Cleveland Area Board of Realtors Professional of the Year Award with Achievement, and Cleveland Magazine Top Agent Award (every year it has been published). She was a featured agent in the December 2020 issue of Real Producers Magazine and has been recognized from 2019-2021 with the Keller Williams Top Individual Agent Award based on closed sales.

From a humble beginning and with a lot of perseverance, Stacy is proud to be recognized as a top agent in the industry. If you ask her what is the secret of starting and growing your own business, she will tell you “just never give up, never take anything for granted, and treat people the way you would like to be treated.”

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