Marian High School honored six individuals with service and leadership awards as part of the Esprit de Corps Awards Banquet held Sept. 6, 2018. Over 130 guests attended the annual recognition program, held at Happy Hollow Club, which featured a cocktail hour, dinner and awards ceremony. The Alumna of the Year award was presented to Celann LaGreca, class of 1975; the Sr. Marcella Leadership Award to Judge J.E. Sullivan, class of 1974; the Marian Award to Chris and Betsy Murphy; the Spirit of Marian Award to Dr. Eileen Wirth; and an Honorary Diploma to Sr. Ginny Silvestri, OSM.
In her opening remarks, Marian President Mary Higgins recognized the example set forth by the Servants of Mary, Marian’s founding order. “After God, Marian’s next biggest link is with the Servants of Mary, our founders, the creators of our mission, our roots. Led by Prioress, Sr. Mary Gehringer, they are the ones who keep us grounded so that we never forget where we are headed, why we are going there or where we came from.”
Celann LaGreca, a 1975 graduate, was named Alumna of the Year. The Alumna of the Year Award is the most prestigious honor given by the Marian Alumnae Association. Celann spent most of her career in the corporate sector as an executive at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska leading the areas of communication, advertising and public relations, and serving on the Senior Leadership Team. Prior to retiring from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska in 2012, she formed her own consulting business, The LaGreca Group, and continues to provide strategic planning, marketing and branding expertise to nonprofit clients. Her dedication to Marian spans many years as a student, alumna, volunteer and board member. She served on the Marian Marketing Committee for more than a decade and then chaired that committee while serving on the Marian Board of Directors a second time from 2011-2017.
Judge J.E. Sullivan, class of 1974, received the Sister Marcella Leadership Award, named for Marian’s first principal, Sr. Mary Marcella Sitzmann, OSM. Judge J.E. Sullivan has been sitting as a trial judge for 30 years and currently presides as a U.S. Administrative Law Judge over civil regulatory enforcement litigation for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She also conducts hearings as a visiting Judge in the U.S. District Courts, and her jurisdiction encompasses the entire United States and its territories. In July 2015, Judge Sullivan was the featured “judicial profile” in the “Federal Lawyer,” the Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) national publication.
The Marian Award was presented to Chris and Betsy Murphy. Betsy and Chris own a privately held holding company, Ameriwest Coporation, and their business success has allowed them to be active in the Omaha community. They have served or held leadership positions for numerous civic organizations. Betsy served on the Marian Board of Directors from 2005-2012, including holding a position on the Executive Committee from 2008-2012. Additionally, their daughter, Annie, is a proud alumna of Marian’s class of 2009.
Dr. Eileen Wirth, received the Spirit of Marian Award. Dr. Eileen Wirth is a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and is the mother of Shanti Psota a Marian gradutate of the class of 2001. Dr. Wirth was a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and worked in public relations for Union Pacific Railroad before joining Creighton University in 1991. She retired from Creighton in 2016, after chairing the journalism department for 19 years. Wirth is a member of the Nebraska Newspaper Hall of Fame, the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame and the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame. At Marian, she has volunteered primarily in public relations and marketing, helping Marian develop a strategy to promote its outstanding STEM program for young women. She currently serves on the Marketing Committee.
Sr. Ginny Silvestri was conferred an honorary Marian diploma. Sr. Ginny entered the Servants of Mary Community in Omaha in 1961. During her 14 years teaching at Marian, she was a beloved English and theology teacher, chair of the English Department, student board moderator and senior class moderator. Sr. Ginny has served as the Vice-Provincial and Provincial of the Servants of Mary and currently works as Pastoral Care Coordinator for the Notre Dame Sisters of Omaha. She has also served as a member of the Marian Board of Directors in recent years and continues to provide faith formation for teachers and staff.