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Humanitarians, Priests Steal the Show
at Scholarship Gala

2015 Presidential Humanitarian Award Recipients
Presidential Humanitarian Award recipients Marie and Frank Janton (left),
Sr. Kathy Dougherty (center) and John Ford and Sandra Sollod Poster (right)
with Dr. Mirenda and Tony Mirenda after the presentations.


More than 400 people packed the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development on March 28 to celebrate the University’s 50th anniversary and raise money for student scholarships.


Attendees marveled at the ambiance of a transformed Mirenda Center. With carpeting, beautifully decorated tables, an impressive overhead display panel, and riveting images of Neumann’s history dancing on the walls, the main arena became a blend of nostalgia and energy, the perfect dining and entertainment space for a warm glance back in time and an electric commitment to the years ahead.


For the first time, a Neumann Scholarship Gala (this one the 16th) featured a live concert as part of the evening’s program. The Priests, a classical music trio of international renown, proved to be an enormous hit with Neumann’s friends and supporters. Fathers Eugene O’Hagan, Martin O’Hagan, and David Delargy (all priests from Northern Ireland) touched the heart with performances of Gaelic Blessing and Danny Boy, and the soul with renditions of Amazing Grace and Ave Maria.


The three priests have been singing together since they met in the 1970s as students. Their 2008 debut album, The Priests, set a Guinness World Record for "Fastest Selling Classical Debut Album of All Time,” surpassing even the album sales of stars like Luciano Pavarotti and Katherine Jenkins.


The trio has performed before the British Royal Family, the Irish President, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. Committed to their vocation, they donate the vast majority of their royalties to their charitable fund, which helps build schools in places like Cambodia, Uganda and Thailand.


The real stars of the Scholarship Gala show, however, were the recipients of the 2015 Presidential Humanitarian Awards.


The first award went to Sister Mary Kathryn Dougherty, OSF, congregational minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Sr. Kathy has dedicated her life to education and ministry. After professing her final vows in 1981, she spent the better part of two decades teaching at schools in Baltimore. At St. Bonaventure University from 1997 to 2001, she served as director of university ministries and director of candidates. Afterward, she took on the role of director of the congregation's novitiate program before beginning a five-year stint as an adjunct professor at Neumann. Instead of slowing down after almost 30 years of service, Sister Kathy then embraced a new ministry. She became chaplain at the Baltimore City Women's Detention Center from 2010 to 2014.


John C. Ford and Sandra Sollod Poster were honored next. John is founder and principal of John C. Ford Associates, consultants specializing in organizational development and communication. His impressive corporate career included senior level positions in broadcasting (CBS, ABC and the Home Box Office division of Time Warner) and in financial services (the American Stock Exchange and Merrill Lynch & Co.). Sandra Sollod Poster has been an academic and a consultant for almost 50 years. She holds the rank of full professor at the City University of New York where her areas of expertise include presentation skills and interpersonal communication. Sandra won an Emmy Award as outstanding writer for We Are New York, a 10-episode television series that teaches English to immigrants though comedy and drama.


John began his relationship with Neumann in 1965. Fifty years later, John has served as a two-term chair of Neumann’s Board of Trustees and chair of its Development Committee. John and Sandra have funded the John C. Ford Academic Resource Center, a dance studio in the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, and scholarships for students with a particular interest in visual communications.


The evening’s last award was presented to Frank and Marie Janton, essential components of the Neumann University community for years. Frank is serving his tenth year on the University Board of Trustees and his eighth year as chairperson of the Board’s Development Committee. For 24 years, Marie has been a member of the Delaware County Symphony, which is part of the Arts Guild at Neumann. More recently, she has modeled for the Cultural Arts Forum Fashion show, served on the University’s Scholarship Gala Committee, and earned a degree at Neumann.

This civic-minded couple has also supported many other worthy causes. Frank is a member of the American Catholic Historical Society, the Kennett Education Foundation, and the St. Thomas More Alumni Association. A former member of the Salesianum High School Presidential Advisory Committee, he also founded the Delaware County Symphony's "Musicians Lifetime Achievement Award," which he presents annually. A concert cellist, Marie has performed with the Catholic Combined Orchestras of Philadelphia, the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra, and the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra.


Other highlights of the event were a silent auction with 54 irresistible items, a 50/50 raffle, a delicious meal catered by Duffy’s, and a brief history of the University, made possible by several major sponsors: WAWA, Inc., James D. and Jackie J. Delaney, John C. Ford and Sandra Sollod Poster, H. Edward and Ellen M. Hanway, Dr. Rosalie M. and Mr. Anthony D. Mirenda and family, and the Mullen family.



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