Ambassadors of Catholic Education to Be Honored at the 2019 Elizabeth Ann Seton Gala

Individuals and organizations honored for celebrated work in Catholic education.

Arlington, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), announces the 2019 Elizabeth Ann Seton Award Honorees. Tony and Michelle Audino, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE) and founder Francesca Pellegrino, Archbishop Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Caroline (C.) Maury Devine, the Dunn Family Foundation and Timothy A. Tewes will be honored at the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award Gala on October 7, 2019, at the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor, Maryland.

The NCEA Seton Award is named after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in recognition of her lifelong dedication to teaching. This award is presented annually to exemplary individuals whose support and service profoundly impacts Catholic education and the welfare of our nation’s youth. Each Seton honoree also has a scholarship presented in his or her honor to a deserving Catholic school student in the local community.

NCEA President/CEO, Dr. Thomas Burnford, expressed his appreciation for the 2019 honorees, “Our Seton honorees are shining examples of service to Catholic schools. They are not ones to stop when they reach a goal or achieve an accomplishment. They continue to charge ahead doing the Lord’s work and providing the opportunity for others to do the same. We are truly grateful for their selfless service.”

The day of the Seton Gala begins with the Seton Philanthropy Symposium. The symposium includes past and present Seton honorees, visionaries in Catholic philanthropy and local leaders from Catholic schools and dioceses working in advancement and development. Participants can hear what is working around the country and strategize with experts about best practices and innovative philanthropy programs meant to sustain the future vitality of Catholic schools.

Bound together by Midwest upbringings in large Catholic families and 16 years of Catholic education, Tony and Michelle Audino committed their lives to ensuring that an excellent Catholic education would be accessible to all. A local “angel” introduced them to Sacred Heart Church and School where their passion for being involved in Catholic education blossomed into co-founding the Fulcrum Foundation, where Tony and Michelle have committed most of their philanthropic efforts over the past 17 years “to instill in children and families, principals and staff, and throughout the broader community the hope for a better world and the ability to make it happen.”

The Fulcrum Foundation collaborates with the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Office for Catholic Schools and serves as an engine for innovation and fundraising to create solutions to the biggest challenges facing the Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Mr. Audino currently serves as board chair and Mrs. Audino chairs the Development Committee and works closely with the advancement director to help raise more than $5 million annually for Fulcrum’s programs and operations. The couple currently serves on the Uplift Campaign Committee, working with a strong staff and a volunteer team to raise $44 million of the $66 million goal to help ensure a stable future for the 73 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The founder of the Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE), Francesca Pellegrino, was motivated by her son’s personal journey to establish a like-minded band of parents. She has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to creating inclusive opportunities in Catholic schools for students with disabilities in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

In 2004, Mrs. Pellegrino transformed the small coalition of parents into a nationally recognized organization providing free services to schools and families of children with disabilities. Today, CCSE coaches, mentors and trains Catholic school educators and administrators providing inclusive education to students with disabilities. CCSE is funded through the generous support of individuals, foundations, corporations and sponsors sharing the belief that children with disabilities should be able to attend Catholic schools.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich was appointed the ninth Archbishop of Chicago by Pope Francis on September 20, 2014. Prior to coming to Chicago, he was appointed the seventh Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, by Pope John Paul II in 1998. He served there until 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the sixth Bishop of Spokane, Washington.

Cardinal Cupich was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha where he also served as pastor in two parishes. In 2016, Pope Francis appointed him to the Congregation for Bishops and in 2017 to the Congregation for Catholic Education. Cardinal Cupich also serves the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees: Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; co-chair of the National Dialogue Initiative with Muslims; chair of the Subcommittee for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; and the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. He is chancellor of the Catholic Church Extension Society and the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Illinois. He was secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature (1981-1987) in Washington, D.C., as well as chair for the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People (2008-2011) and the National Catholic Educational Association Board of Directors (2013-2015).

C. Maury Devine is a retired ExxonMobil executive and former Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is currently a member of the board of directors of Valeo, JBT Corporation and ConocoPhillips. Ms. Devine has given much of her time in advancing Catholic education at educational institutions in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. She currently serves on the board of directors of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and is a former board member of the Washington Jesuit Academy and the Washington School for Girls.

Ms. Devine held several storied positions at ExxonMobil from 1988 – 2000. Her titles included president and executive director of Exxon’s Norwegian affiliate, secretary of Mobil Corporation and prior to that she was responsible for Mobil’s international government relations. Ms. Devine also served 15 years in U.S. Federal Government positions including assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff, staff advisor in the United States Embassy in Paris, and planning and operations positions in the Drug Enforcement Administration of the U.S. Department of Justice. She is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

John Ernest (Ernie) Dunn, Sr., founded JE Dunn Construction Company in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1924. What began as a small, family-run residential contractor would eventually grow into one of the top general building contractors in the country. Today, JE Dunn is under the guidance of three generations of Dunns, including Robert (Bob) Dunn.

In 1981, a core value of the company, giving to and meeting community needs, was recognized and formally structured through the establishment of the Dunn Family Foundation. The Foundation's funding emphasis includes the arts, civic, those with disabilities, diversity, education, faith, healthcare, seniors and youth. Dunn employees are encouraged to volunteer their time, talents and treasures to hundreds of charitable organizations. This past year, the employees contributed nearly $1,000,000 in donations with total volunteer hours equal to 27 full-time volunteers supporting charities. Nationally, JE Dunn annually commits more than 10 percent of its pre-tax earnings to charities in the spirit of giving back to the community with nearly 400 combined charities supported by the company and foundation.

The 2019 Seton President’s Award will be given to Timothy Tewes. As part of the Seton Awards Gala, the President’s Award honors a professional whose longstanding dedication to Catholic education has enhanced the wellbeing of our nation’s youth and Catholic schools in the United States. Mr. Tewes is the president of Nelnet Inc., and CEO of FACTS Management Company. Nelnet is a diversified public company with clients in more than 50 countries and is best known as a highly rated student loan servicer for the U. S. Department of Education. Allo Communications, a subsidiary of Nelnet, brings fiber optic to the homes of nearly 50,000 consumers and 21,000 businesses, churches and schools in Nebraska and eastern Colorado. Through FACTS Management Company and Nelnet Campus Commerce, Nelnet serves nearly 13,000 private faith-based schools and more than 1300 colleges and universities in the United States and Australia.

In September of 2000, Mr. Tewes joined a little known startup in Lincoln, Nebraska, named FACTS Management Company. FACTS Management Company has grown from serving one small Catholic school in Grand Island, Nebraska, to serving nearly 3500 Catholic schools, serving a school in every diocese in the United States. Mr. Tewes’ personal and professional commitment is to advance faith- based education in the United States and beyond.

The Seton Scholars are: Za’Niyah Martin, Archdiocese of Washington; Anthanino Navarra-Petrovic (Nino), Archdiocese of Washington; Margarita Sedei Gonzalez, Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS; Abigail Decker (Abby), Archdiocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO; Yolanda Aybar Delgado, Diocese of Orlando ; Jovan Rodriguez, Archdiocese of Chicago; Camila De La Luz Flores, Archdiocese of Seattle.

For a complete list of the honorees and scholars and information about the Seton Philanthropy Symposium and Gala please go to


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