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Distinguished Alumni Honored by Saint Louis University

06/09/2022

Saint Louis University honored and recognized its newest class of distinguished alumni at the May commencement ceremony.

Fourteen SLU graduates received 2022 Alumni Awards. The graduates were honored at a dinner and recognized at the commencement ceremony. The celebration marked the return of the awards after the COVID-19 pandemic altered plans to hold in-person recognition in 2020 and 2021. 

Distinguished alumni were recognized at a dinner Friday, May 20, Front row, from left, are Stephen M. Strum, J.D.; Mary Kay Knight Macheca, R.N.; Suthanya Srisuro, Thomas Nenninger, and Alice F. Roach. Back row, from left, are Thomas P. Shaner, M.D., William L. Carrier, Cecilia A. Nadal, Dennis M. Jenkerson, and Jerry Sax.   Not pictured are Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D.; Jennifer L. McDaniel, M.S.; Phillip Edward Sowa, and Thomas J. Reese. Photo by Steve Dolan.

Distinguished alumni were recognized at a dinner Friday, May 20, Front row, from left, are Stephen M. Strum, J.D.; Mary Kay Knight Macheca, R.N.; Suthanya Srisuro, Thomas Nenninger, and Alice F. Roach. Back row, from left, are Thomas P. Shaner, M.D., William L. Carrier, Cecilia A. Nadal, Dennis M. Jenkerson, and Jerry Sax. Not pictured are Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D.; Jennifer L. McDaniel, M.S.; Phillip Edward Sowa, and Thomas J. Reese. Photo by Steve Dolan

An Alumni Merit Award is bestowed annually upon a distinguished graduate from 12 of SLU’s schools, colleges and centers in recognition of their outstanding achievement, dedication to a chosen profession, and commitment to the mission of the University.

Alumni Merit Awardees 2022

William L. Carrier (Parks ’81) — Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology

Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, Bill Carrier’s mother allowed him to stay home from school to watch the U.S. space program shift into high gear. He watched the launches, the moon landings, and the recoveries. 

Carrier learned to fly at 16 and anticipated working as a pilot, but his father encouraged him to get an engineering degree to “fall back on.” At Parks College, Carrier found engineering more challenging and enjoyable than flying —he liked the practical problem-solving. After graduating from SLU with an aerospace engineering degree, Carrier joined The Boeing Co., where he spent the next 35 years. 

Carrier started his career in 1982 as a design engineer on the B-52 airplane developing systems upgrades. He worked on more than 35 development projects for both aircraft and spacecraft. He also conducted research on new designs and techniques for composite structures. 

He earned an Executive MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1992.

Carrier was vice president and senior chief engineer for structures and mechanical systems for Boeing’s Defense Space and Security business when he retired in 2016. 

About 15 to 20 years ago, Carrier began volunteering as an industry advisor and student design team mentor for the aerospace and mechanical engineering programs within Parks College. He teaches special lectures on conceptual design, technical risk management, and testing. He was also the Parks College Executive Advisory Board chair for three years.

In his retirement, Carrier again supports the B-52 as a consultant to Boeing. In addition, he and his wife Kathy have adopted Kiera, a Siberian Husky, to train her as a touch therapy dog with Duo Dogs to help individuals with physical, emotional, and social needs. He and Kathy are wildlife enthusiasts who have traveled to Africa and North America to photograph big game in their wild states.

Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D. (A&S ’82) — College of Arts and Sciences

Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D., grew up in St. Louis with a “household of books” and three strong women – his mother, aunt, and grandmother. Crawford became the first in the family to graduate from college. After earning his bachelor’s degree at SLU, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from DePaul University in Chicago. He moved to Loyola University Chicago, where he joined the faculty of the psychology department as an assistant professor, earned tenure, and eventually was promoted to professor. Crawford served as dean of Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences — all while maintaining a private psychotherapy practice.

Crawford left the Midwest to serve as provost and chief academic officer at another Jesuit university, Seattle University. After eight years there, Crawford was named president of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, in 2016. 

Crawford was selected as chair of the board of directors for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in 2021. He also sits on the boards of the American Council on Education, Independent Colleges of Washington, and the Seattle Symphony, among many others. He also holds several national awards, including three from the American Psychological Association. He received an honorary degree from SLU this May.

Crawford and his spouse, Kent Korneisel, live in Tacoma.

Dennis M. Jenkerson (SPS ’02) — School for Professional Studies

Dennis M. Jenkerson, a third-generation firefighter, has served the St. Louis Fire Department for 40 years.

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Jenkerson joined the Fire Department at age 21. He worked his way through the ranks to become a fire captain and battalion chief. He established the first in-house EMT certification program and managed essential department programs.

He served as incident commander, overseeing and managing numerous major city events including the 2004 and 2006 World Series and 2005 NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament.

An experienced leader, Jenkerson has served as Chief of the St. Louis Fire Department since his appointment in 2007. Jenkerson’s wealth of knowledge and years of expertise have landed him on numerous committees. He also serves as a technical advisor for various federal, state, and local agencies.

Under Jenkerson’s leadership, the department has increased community outreach and engagement initiatives. The education, prevention, and community assistance programs in place have led to a decline in the number of fire fatalities. Jenkerson is optimistic that as the department equips more homes with smoke detectors and community members learn about risks and prevention, more lives will be saved.

Jenkerson, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Development from SLU in 2002, is a strong proponent of employee development through education and training. He believes this is key to improving the department’s level of service and ensuring employees’ safety and efficiency.

Jenkerson is an advising member on numerous community boards including the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Heat-Up & Cool Down St. Louis.

He and his wife, Michelle, are proud parents to three adult children, Danielle, Emily and Dennis II.

Mary Kay Knight Macheca, M.S.N.(R), R.N., A.P.R.N., A.N.P.-B.C., C.D.C.E.S. (Nurs ’82, ’86) — Trudy Valentine School of Nursing

When she was younger, Mary Kay Macheca accompanied her father to the hospital and found the care his doctors and nurses provided was both fascinating and noble. She also realized she wanted to have that kind of impact on someone’s life.

Macheca is an adult nurse practitioner who educates and cares for patients with chronic diseases – specifically diabetes. As both a certified diabetes educator and nurse practitioner, Macheca helps patients navigate the complexities of their disease from a physical, spiritual, emotional, and economic perspective. For the past six years, Macheca has cared for patients within the BJC Medical Group in St. Peters. Prior to that, she practiced at Washington University, Barnes Jewish Hospital, SSM St. Mary’s Hospital, and at privately operated medical clinics. She has written extensively and spoken on all aspects of caring for patients with diabetes as well as precepted nurse practitioner students who are interested in chronic disease management.

Macheca said the most rewarding part of her practice is building relationships with patients that span years. She enjoys helping her patients learn to manage their disease, so it becomes a part of everyday life rather than an impediment to a rich future.

Macheca has also worked to effect change and improve the lives of patients with diabetes through her service on the board of directors for the St. Louis Chapters of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association. She has received numerous honors and awards, including Diabetes Educator of the Year from the St. Louis Association of Diabetes Educators and the Mae J. Hamilton Nursing Excellence Award from Sigma Theta Tau, Delta Lambda Chapter.

An avid runner and hiker, Macheca finds time to give back to SLU. She has been a member of the nursing school’s Executive Advisory Board for a decade and currently serves as chairperson.

Jennifer L. McDaniel M.S., R.D.N, C.S.S.D, L.D. (Doisy ’05) — Doisy College of Health Sciences

Jennifer L. McDaniel found joy in the kitchen as a teenager. She flipped through cookbooks and made dinner for the family while her mother gave piano lessons in another room. When a school counselor read the job description for a registered dietitian, McDaniel said a light bulb went off. She knew what she wanted to do with her life.

After earning undergraduate degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, McDaniel earned a Master of Nutrition and Physical Performance from SLU. She was an assistant and adjunct professor in the Doisy College for Health Sciences from 2006 to 2012.

McDaniel was one of the first board-certified specialists in sports nutrition in Missouri and consults with national and international elite endurance athletes through Carmichael Training Systems, a leader in endurance sports coaching. A marathon runner herself, McDaniel designs wellness programs for numerous companies in the St. Louis area. In 2010, she founded McDaniel Nutrition Therapy in Clayton, Missouri, where she assists clients and companies with weight management, sports nutrition, and nutrition genetic testing.

Voted Dietitian of the Year in 2015 by the Missouri Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and St. Louis Magazine’s top St. Louis nutritionist, she is a frequent local television and radio guest and develops wellness programs for her St. Louis community. McDaniel was the media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for six years and has been quoted in US News and World Report, Men’s Health and Fitness Magazine. McDaniel co-authored the Mediterranean Table Cookbook.

McDaniel also teaches lunch and learn cooking and nutrition seminars for several St. Louis companies.

Thomas B. Nenninger (IT ’61) — Institute of Technology

After earning his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from Saint Louis University and his graduate degree from Purdue University, Thomas Nenninger worked as a manufacturing engineer for Texas Instruments in Dallas. It was the 1960s and the dawn of the information age. Nenninger was fascinated with the potential of the emerging technology and decided to get in on the ground floor. He joined Electronic Data Systems (EDS), an international leader in the management of information technology. He spent 30 years as a systems engineer, division vice-president and ultimately as a strategic unit director in technology architecture.

Nenninger and his team developed information systems to help insurance companies that were swamped with health care claims from hospitals and providers. Pieces of code written by Nenninger and his team are still in use today.

Nenninger, who retired in Plano, Texas, in 1999, spends his free time in service to others. He served six years, three as president, on the board of directors for Planned Living Assistance Network, a non-profit organization offering support services to individuals with mental illness and their families. He resigned from the board but Nenninger and his wife, Sandra, whom he met at SLU, continue to organize events for the non-profit. Nenninger and his wife also advocated successfully for improved health care for the underserved in their county and contribute to their parish ministries.

In addition to earning his degree from SLU, Nenninger’s daughter, granddaughter, and grandson hold degrees from the University.

Thomas J. Reese, S.J. (P&L, Grad A&S ’68) — College of Philosophy and Letters

Thomas J. Reese, S.J., is one of the most widely respected writers in the United States on the Catholic Church. For more than 30 years, he has offered analysis, explanations, and critiques of issues within the Catholic community, as well as their resonance with the larger world. 

Reese entered the Jesuit community in 1962. In 1968, he received both his undergraduate degree from the College of Philosophy and Letters and his graduate degree in political science from Saint Louis University. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1974, the same year he was ordained as a priest. He also earned a Ph.D. in political science at Berkeley.

Reese was a lobbyist for tax reform in Washington, D.C., and served as editor-in-chief of America, a national weekly magazine published by the Jesuits of the United States. While a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Reese wrote a trilogy on the inner workings of the Church, including Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church (1996). The Boston Globe described the book as a “clear, largely dispassionate and often compelling picture of Vatican operations.”

In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Reese to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and in 2016 he was elected chair of the commission. Reese testified before the U.S. Congress on religious violence, mass atrocities, and policies to prevent atrocities.

Reese currently is a senior analyst and weekly columnist for the Religion News Service (RNS). His columns appear regularly in the National Catholic Reporter.

Alice F. Roach, Ed.D. (Ed ’04, ’06) — School of Education

In her more than 40 years with the St. Louis Public School District, Alice Roach served as a classroom teacher, counselor, instructional coordinator, and the superintendent’s chief of staff.

Roach said the most challenging role was founding principal at Carnahan High School of the Future. When she arrived in 2006, the attendance rate was 55% and academic test scores were in the single digits. By the time she left in 2009, attendance was at 95%. Parental engagement increased and students were meeting the state’s yearly progress goals. Colleagues credit the turnaround to Roach’s passion for learning, affection for every student, and relentless commitment to high standards.

Roach retired from the district several times only to be called back into service. Roach, who knew in third grade she wanted to become a teacher, has been a mentor to countless educators and principals. 

She currently is the administrative director of the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund, which assists teachers and administrators in the district with financial support for educational and professional development. It also aids educators in dire financial situations due to a health or personal crisis. Roach said the fund is close to her heart given she used its resources to help her pay for her master’s degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and her doctorate from Saint Louis University.

Numerous organizations have recognized Roach for her dedication to student and teacher success. She was named a Lifetime Achiever in Education by the St. Louis American Foundation, the Teach for America Outstanding Principal, and a MetLife Foundation Ambassador in Education.

The daughter of the late Lee and Rosie Moore, Alice is the proud parent of Kimberly Reneè and Brian, grandmother of Mya, and godmother of Jordan.

Jerry Sax (Cook ’83) — Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business

After graduating from Saint Louis University, Jerry Sax worked as a CPA at the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen, where his primary focus was catering to the special needs of small, growing, entrepreneurial companies. 

He serves as a volunteer mentor with the top-ranked Capital Innovators Accelerator program, which manages investments in the most cutting-edge startups around the globe. He also has volunteered as a regional judge for Ernst & Young’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year award program.

Sax has spent more than three decades in finance and operations, working for companies both at home and abroad. Most recently, he was chief financial officer and member of the board of directors for Electrical Components International. Before that he spent 20 years in various leadership roles with St. Louis-based Viasystems Group, a multinational electronics manufacturing company. For four years, Sax was based in Europe.

Sax said his rigorous, Catholic education at SLU provided him with a deeper foundation of ethical business practices and strengthened his value system. He has given back by underwriting scholarships in the accounting and international business programs in the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, and by making contributions to support the school’s annual staff service awards. In 2013, he underwrote the School of Education’s first undergraduate scholarship. Sax was the keynote speaker at the business school’s commencement ceremony in 2017, and in 2019 Sax received the school’s Joseph Davis, S.J., Lifetime Service Award. 

Sax has also served on advisory boards and committees of other regional, education-centric, not-for-profit organizations, including Springboard to Learning, and the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

Thomas P. Shaner, M.D. (A&S ’68, Med ’72) — School of Medicine 

Those who worked closely with Thomas P. Shaner, M.D., describe him as a man who exemplifies the Christian principle of doing nothing out of selfish ambition but rather in humility, considering others more important than himself. In his nearly 40 years as an OB-GYN physician in St. Louis, Shaner delivered more than 8,000 babies. Patients praise Shaner’s warm, non-judgmental bedside manner.

After earning his undergraduate and medical degrees from Saint Louis University, Shaner completed his internship and residency at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Shaner then opened his private practice and joined the medical school’s clinical faculty. As a teacher, he often stayed late to teach third-year medical students how to tie a surgical knot and residents how to use surgical instruments to improve their technique. He was an early proponent of laparoscopic surgery and is known for his skills. 

Shaner has made multiple medical mission trips, often accompanied by residents, to Haiti, Brazil, and Honduras to operate and teach local doctors. He frequently volunteered at the student-run clinic in North City for underserved patients. 

His honors include the Ralph Kinsella Memorial Tribute Award, the OrthoPharmaceutical Teaching Award, and the Haitian Medical Association Abroad Award for Service to the People of Haiti. He was on St. Louis Magazine’s Best Doctors list for more than a decade.

Retired in 2014, Shaner dedicates time to his family while volunteering at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Hospital and Loyola Academy, where he serves as a tutor.

Phillip Edward Sowa (A&S ’69, PH ’73) — College for Public Health and Social Justice

Phillip Edward Sowa’s interest in helping the sick and underserved led him to a career in health care administration. For nearly 40 years, he held leadership positions with for-profit and public health care facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, California, Tennessee, and Missouri. He was CEO of Saint Louis University Hospital from 2011 to 2015 where he oversaw the establishment of an outpatient bone-marrow transplant clinic and a cardiac surgery center. Under his leadership, SLU Hospital was named the number one hospital in the Tenet Healthcare system in 2014.

Returning to St. Louis to assume leadership of the hospital was a homecoming for Sowa, who earned his undergraduate degree in biology and his Master of Hospital and Health Administration at SLU. Sowa said his leadership style of listening, teaching, and leading from behind was reinforced by SLU’s mission statement.

Sowa’s style also was reinforced by unique events. He oversaw the successful disaster response at a San Francisco hospital in 1989 when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the Bay Area, killing 67 people and causing billions in damage. In 2005, he navigated a medical center in New Orleans through the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. He is credited for keeping staff, patients, and family in the hospital safe during post-hurricane devastation.

Sowa served as president of the St. Louis chapter of the Missouri Hospital Association and chairman of the American Heart Association Walk in St. Louis and Houston. He also served as a frequent lecturer and preceptor for SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice.

A cyclist and golfer, Sowa, and his wife, Luralee, live in Newnan, Georgia.

Suthanya Srisuro, D.D.S., M.S. (Grad Dent ’75) — Center for Advanced Dental Education

Suthanya Srisuro spent more than 40 years in service to her community and to her country.

She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1968 from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and her Master in Dentistry specializing in orthodontics from Saint Louis University’s Center for Advanced Dental Education in 1975. Srisuro was an orthodontist and dentofacial orthopedic specialist in private practice in Godfrey, Illinois, from 1975 to 2014. She also served as a part-time clinical faculty member in the orthodontics program at Saint Louis University.

Srisuro traveled to her homeland many times as a visiting professor to teach orthodontics at dental schools in Thailand and to provide free dental services for underserved children in rural parts of the county. Srisuro founded the “Thai Fund” in 2006, which supports orthodontic education at SLU. Although she is retired, Srisuro continues to raise funds for the effort. Srisuro also organizes fundraising events and functions for the Thai Buddhist Temple of St. Louis, which she co-founded. Srisuro said her student experience at SLU inspired her passion for helping people improve their dental health and their lives.

In 2014, Saint Louis University recognized Srisuro for her 25 years of devoted service. In 2019, she received a Special Merit Award granted by Thai graduates of SLU’s orthodontic program.

Srisuro is a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. She has been married to Chotchai Srisuro, a gynecologist, for 54 years. Her older daughter, Anne, graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the College for Public Health and Social Justice, and currently works as an OB/GYN in California. Her younger daughter, Lisa, is a writer living in Toronto, Canada.

Stephen M. Strum, J.D. (Law ’88) — School of Law

Stephen M. Strum wanted to be a lawyer since the age of 10 — something he has done for more than 30 years now professionally. 

Strum is a shareholder (part-owner) of Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard, P.C. His practice focuses primarily on the defense of product manufacturers and nursing homes. He has defended product manufacturers in hundreds of catastrophic injury cases involving passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, go-carts, wheelchairs, and other consumer industrial products.

Additionally, Strum represents several nationally recognized and local nursing home operators in claims involving patient care litigation, risk management, and allegations of fraud. Strum has directly handled, evaluated, or managed more than 500 nursing home cases in more than 15 states.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Strum enrolled in SLU’s Law School where he found the faculty “second to none.” He is certified in dispute resolution, arbitration, and advanced mediation. He is listed among the Best Lawyers in America, as well as the list of Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers in medical malpractice and product liability.

Outside of his official duties as a trial lawyer and mediator, Strum has served on local school boards (St. Michael School of Clayton and Whitfield School) and coached a high-school mock-trial team (Crossroads College Preparatory School). He is also a former board member of MICA (Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project). In addition, he most recently agreed to act as a volunteer job coach through the Saint Louis University Transformative Workforce Academy, helping those who are coming out of prison find and retain meaningful employment.

Pioneer Award

As the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River, Saint Louis University was founded and operated to educate pioneers who helped shape the history of our region and nation. In honor of that pioneering spirit that forged the foundation of SLU, the Pioneer Award is an annual recognition of a graduate who is hardworking, innovative, driven, and committed to Jesuit ideals and whose actions, accomplishments, and pioneering spirit have helped pave the way for others. 

Cecilia A. Nadal, M.A. (A&S ’72) was named this year's Pioneer Award winner. Nadal, the founder of Gitana Productions, has committed her life to shining a light of hope, peace, and acceptance on society’s most vulnerable, using cross-cultural engagement strategies through music, dance, drama, and education.

Gitana Productions is a nonprofit arts and education organization founded in 1996. Nadal has produced more than 25 major international music/dance shows: more than 20 original plays, the first major cross-cultural engagement conference in St. Louis, and numerous educational events to promote peace and connection across cultures. She started Global Education through the Arts, the first community arts program in Missouri, bringing together African American and refugee /immigrant youth in South City, Ferguson, and the Amherst Park area.

The annual “Faces of Love Show” featured musicians and performers from 20 countries. Each performance included educational events that brought African Americans and diverse cultures together in dialogue. In 2000 Nadal brought the world-renowned China National Orchestra to Powell Symphony Hall. She engaged the Chinese and African American communities by bringing the 80-member orchestra to St. Alphonsus Church on a Sunday, bringing St. Louis and Chinese students together to co-create an opening for the show, and inviting the Consul General of China from Chicago. Dance of the Dragon, an award-winning film about the orchestra, was produced by Nadal in collaboration with the St. Louis Chinese Association and Maven Films.

After the Ferguson protests, Nadal felt compelled to explore the complex issues between the police and the community. She collaborated with playwright, Lee Patton Chiles, to develop the highly successful play Black and Blue and other plays such as Complacency of Silence: Darfur; My Heart is Always Shaking: Afghan Women Refugees in St. Louis.

Nadal has written two plays: Between Worlds: An American Tragedy and An Amazing Story: German Abolitionists of Missouri. The latter play and community engagement would result in the City of Hermann celebrating Black History Month for the first time.