2014 Alumni and Founders Awardees
The 2014 Founders Day Celebration and Alumni Reunion Brunch and Awards Ceremony were combined this year, bringing our Founders Day celebration back to Alumni Reunion Weekend and honoring our distinguished Founders and Alumni Awardees. The 2014 award recipients are presented below.
Young Alumni Award
Jenna Grush ’07
The Young Alumni Award recognizes a traditional age Fontbonne alumnus or alumna who graduated within the last fifteen years. It is given for outstanding achievement in a career field, service to the university or community service.
As a Fontbonne student, Jenna Grush was a member of numerous organizations such as: The Fontbonne Activities Board, FOCUS, Fontbonne in Service and Humility organization, several honors associations including; Kappa Gamma Pi as an undergraduate and Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi more recently as a graduate student, The Human Service Club, Fontbonne Commuter Advisory Board, Fontbonne Mission & Heritage Committee, Fontbonne Student Government Association, etc.
This complimented her community work, as Alumni Board Secretary, Chair of the Graduates of the Last Decade alumni committee, Big Brothers/Big Sisters volunteer, and an Amate House volunteer. Despite this busy schedule she still found time for 6 Fontbonne Mission service trips where she was leader, planner, or volunteer.
Jenna has represented the University and the class of 2007 with dedication, humility, and grace. She continues her involvement today as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Fontbonne, recruiting & enrolling new students to the University.
Service to the Community Award
Don Gillespie ’79
The Service to the Community Award is given to a Fontbonne University alumnus or alumna recognizing outstanding contributions made to the community.
For 34 years Don Gillespie, a Vianney High School graduate, has been a special education teacher working with children with behavioral disorders. The last 17 years he spent as an alternative classroom teacher. From his own childhood experiences with childhood abuse, he developed a keen interest in human behavior. He used this to develop relationships with students whom others discounted or threw away. He became a father figure to some, giving them money for lunch, clothing, and the motivation to prove doubters wrong.
Don ran the Lets Attend to Education program (L.A.T.E.)for at risk students who could not deal with the normal daytime routine of the classroom, and earned the Teacher of the year award at Northwest High School. He has received countless nominations for staff member of the month, and letters of excellence and awards, but what really matters to him is that since the alternative classroom and night programs began, Don has helped over 45 at risk youth graduate from high school.
Professional Achievement Award
Martha Willis Graham ’73
The Professional Achievement Award is presented to a Fontbonne University alumnus or alumna in recognition of professional accomplishment.
For 27 years, Martha Willis Graham has worked in education for Kansas City Public Schools, where she has been the state & national representative for The American Federation of Teachers, a grade level & professional development chairperson, science liaison, a sponsor to the National Elementary Honor Society, the recycling coordinator, building wellness representative, Bridging the Gap Lynne Laughlin volunteer award winner and Junior Achievement of Mid America Teacher of the Year award winner.
She balances her professional pursuits with her volunteer activities as part of the Fontbonne University Kansas City Alumni Chapter, the Kansas City Mayor’s Task Force on Racism, and sponsoring children in Rwanda, Africa, through the Imana Kids program. She also volunteers for the KC Middle School of the Arts Parent Advisory program, and is a chairperson of the HOPE organization. She especially enjoys working with Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, Inc., reading and tutoring at schools.
Martha said that she owes a debt of gratitude to her late mother Corean Willis, who determined it would be best for her to enroll at Fontbonne. She began her collegiate journey with the Sisters of St. Joseph and she continues that journey today as a member of the Pastoral Council at St. Therese Little Flower in Kansas City, MO.
Service to the University Award
Maggie Gunn Fowler ’64
The Service to the University Award recognizes a Fontbonne University alumnus or alumna who demonstrates outstanding loyalty, service and dedication to the university and to the Fontbonne Alumni Association.
Following her graduation from Fontbonne with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama, Maggie Gunn Fowler served as a papal volunteer high school teacher for two years in British Honduras, now known as Belize. She taught English, Religion, and sewing while directing drama activities after school. But eventually all roads lead back to Fontbonne.
With help from Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ, Maggie secured a job as Chair of St. Joseph’s Academy’s Speech and Drama Department from 1966-1970. After raising five children, she embarked on a career in fund development including the position of Fontbonne’s Director of Development in 2004-2005, from which she retired upon the birth of her first grandchild.
Throughout family, community and professional endeavors, Maggie has maintained her service to Fontbonne University beginning with membership on the Fontbonne Alumni Board. She has balanced volunteer work for her parishes, children’s schools and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Motherhouse; she also served for six years on Fontbonne Alumnae Vicki Bayot Sharpe’s Women in Charge Board.
Recognizing the value in giving back to Fontbonne, Maggie is a charter member of the Fontbonne Community Connection (FCC), a women’s giving circle. She is especially active on the Membership Committee serving the past two years as Co-Chair with Karen Gedera ’65.
Maggie has participated in countless Fontbonne University activities including campaigns, FCC events, and spirituality events. Finally, this year she has taken on Co-Chair duties with Mary Beth Olyniec Westhoff of the 1964 Class 50th Anniversary Reunion Committee. When not working on community or Fontbonne University commitments, Maggie is an active grandma Mam-ma – “the most enjoyable of all her careers”!
Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ
Distinguished Service in CSJ Values and Mission
Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1950 and has been carrying out the CSJ’s mission to serve the “dear neighbor” ever since. Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ served as a faculty and staff member at Fontbonne University for 27 years. For 25 years, she taught speech, theatre, voice and diction and made a profound impact on all of her students. After many years as a faculty member, she moved to the Admissions and Enrollment offices where she coached and mentored many students.
After retiring from Fontbonne University, Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ has stayed very active in the community volunteering and working with many organizations. She has served on the Fontbonne Alumni Spirituality Committee as well as held positions at Sacred Heart Radio, Ronald McDonald House, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s program and many more.
Her dedication is a model to which all others can aspire. She has given her life to the Fontbonne Community and has influenced so many with her grace and dedication to truth.
For exceptional service to the community and love of Fontbonne University, Mary Charity Dalton, CSJ is recognized with a 2014 Fontbonne Founders Award for Distinguished Service in CSJ Values and Mission.
Distinguished Service to Fontbonne University
Whether in her home town of Washington, MO, or the greater St. Louis area, Bonnie Eckelkamp has devoted countless hours to volunteering for many organizations. She has played a key role in the advancement of educational, cultural and civic organizations in the greater metropolitan area.
Bonnie has contributed to numerous educational causes at Fontbonne University where Bonnie served on the Board of Trustees for nine years and also co-chaired a comprehensive campaign for major initiatives on campus. She and her husband, L.B. Eckelkamp, have made generous contributions to the school including a large gift that resulted in the naming of the Eckelkamp College of Global Business and Professional Studies.
Bonnie’s time and efforts have helped St. Francis Borgia parish, for whom she chaired a $3 million capital campaign for renovations, the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation and the Saint Louis Art Museum, for whom she serves as a member of the Friends Board.
Bonnie’s contributions have sharpened Fontbonne University’s ongoing commitment to being a preferred college destination. For her dedication to the advancement of Fontbonne University and the promotion of its mission, Bonnie is recognized as a recipient of the 2014 Founders Award for Distinguished Service to Fontbonne University.