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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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