2011 Alumni Award Recipients

Congratulations to the following alumni who were selected by the Alumni Board of Directors as the 2011 Alumni Award Recipients.


Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) 

Joel Rechlitz, ’04, B.S. Business Administration

Fire lieutenant Joel Rechlitz is nationally recognized for off-duty heroics that saved a boy’s life in 2009. On a summer afternoon, he and his brother, John, did not hesitate to act when they were called to the scene of an accident where an SUV, tipped on its side, was on fire inside and out, and a young boy was trapped inside. Without protective clothing or basic tools, Joel and John had to enter the burning vehicle to cut the safety seat’s restraints and free the child. The brothers saved the boy, who suffered severe burns, and they also endured second- and third-degree burns themselves.

A firefighter with the Milwaukee Fire Department since 1999, Joel earned his associate degree in fire science from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2001 and his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stritch in 2004. He became a member of the Milwaukee Fire Department’s Heavy Urban Rescue Team in 2002 and Honor Guard in 2003. Joel taught his first recruit class as a fire instructor in 2007. Aside from work, he enjoys baseball and is the president of the Wisconsin Youth Sports Association, an organization dedicated to the advancement of baseball. At Stritch, Joel was a member of the baseball team and a two-year National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics scholar athlete. Whenever possible, he spends time with his family, including wife Kelly O’Neil and children Jake, 4, and Olivia, 2.

Spirit of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service 

Rev. Alice Belcher, ’98, M.S. Management

A former probation/parole agent, criminal trial investigator and domestic abuse survivor, the Rev. Alice Belcher is focused on helping families through several initiatives. In 1998, she founded the Christian Women Perspective Ministries Church of God in Christ, Inc., to address women’s and children’s issues. As an advocate for those affected by domestic abuse, she founded Isaiah’s Coalition for Women and Children, a community outreach program that helps victims of domestic violence through counseling, education and referrals for safe emergency shelter, mental health, and legal advocacy.

Through Isaiah’s Coalition, Rev. Belcher launched the Pink and Purple Empowerment Conference, a one-day conference that brings together law enforcement, judicial representatives, teachers, survivors, clergy, and community leaders to discuss issues surrounding domestic abuse and breast cancer. As an appointee of Bishop Sedgwick Daniels from 1994-98, she volunteered as the dean of Holy Redeemer Bible Institute, supervising the first two graduating classes of this adult theological institute. In 1998, she founded a single-parent group and began the ministries’ first series of radio broadcasts in Milwaukee. Rev. Belcher holds a bachelor’s degree in management and criminal justice operations from Concordia University in Milwaukee and her master’s degree in management from Stritch. She credits her experience at Stritch for empowering her to turn her vision for starting her own nonprofit into a reality. Rev. Belcher has three children – Alexis, 27, David, 22, and Isaiah, 9.

Spirit of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service 

Lisa Calderone-Stewart, ’02, Ed.D. Educational Leadership

In 1998, Dr. Lisa Calderone-Stewart founded Tomorrow’s Present, a youth leadership ministry that provides comprehensive leadership development and formation for youth and adults who work with them. After receiving her doctoral degree from Stritch in 2002, Lisa was employed at the House of Peace and developed Tomorrow’s Present to include five core programs: House of Peace Teen Leaders, Pebbles of Peace, Hope is Something You Do, Interfaith Café, and Middle School Youth Forums. As director of the program, Lisa raised all funds to pay for programming and staffing costs by writing grant proposals and articles, teaching classes, directing retreats and parish missions, and running workshops and training programs for both the youth and adults. In the summer of 2009, when she was beginning to form a partnership between Stritch’s Leadership Center and Tomorrow’s Present, Lisa learned she had stage IV lymphoma and bile duct cancer.

While originally told she had just months to live, she has continued to work for two years since her diagnosis, writing articles and grant proposals resulting in more than $10,000 for the program. In her career, she has authored 21 books, eight leadership manuals, and more than 100 articles; given speeches in 50 U.S. and Canadian cities; and received six prestigious awards. In addition to her doctoral degree, Lisa holds two master’s degrees – in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago and in education from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. An avid swimmer, Lisa has two sons and three grandsons.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement 

Kieran Antill, ’03, B.F.A. Graphic Design

Recognized as the #1 Art Director worldwide at the 2010 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Kieran Antill works in New York City as a creative director for Leo Burnett, one of the top advertising agencies in the world. Originally from Sydney, Australia, he now divides his time between Sydney, Amsterdam, New York, and London. He has regularly exhibited his fine art in London, New York, and Sydney for more than 10 years. Kieran has created photography projects for Canon, including “Photochains,” “Photo5,” and “1Wall.” Through these projects, he helped form a community of 50,000 Australasian photographers including some of the world’s best professional photographers.

He also co-wrote and directed a documentary series called “Seconds/with,” exploring the fractions of seconds that shape the careers of photographers. His collaborative commercial work for the World Wildlife Fund’s “Vote Earth/Earth Hour” movement was shown in 74 countries and involved one billion people worldwide, making it one of the largest social movements in history. Though he came to Stritch on a basketball scholarship, Kieran eventually gave up a future in the sport to pursue a career in fine art through his graphic design degree, and he has never looked back. “It is quite possible that I never had an original thought until I was introduced to a Nikon FM10 in Tim Abler’s photography class,” he said. “From there, I found out who I was and woke parts of my brain that had never been used.”

Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement 

Kelly A. Brown, ’07 ’09, B.S., M.S. Management

Named to the Milwaukee Business Journal’s 2011 “40 Under 40” list which recognizes successful young professionals making a difference in the community, Kelly A. Brown is the co-managing partner and founder of the American Deposit Management Company in Milwaukee. She works with both public and private finance managers in their cash management strategies while managing relationships at more than 150 banks throughout the United States. Previously, Kelly was one of four founders of First Wisconsin Bank and Trust Company in Brookfield, Wis. As senior vice president at First Wisconsin, Brown led the efforts in building what was the fastest growing bank in Wisconsin’s history, which sold at a premium in 2008. Starting out as a personal banker, Kelly climbed the ranks of the banking industry throughout her 20 years in local, regional, and national banks. In addition to being a leader in the financial services industry,

Kelly is an outspoken advocate for the advancement of women in business. She teaches business classes at area colleges, serves on a number of community boards, and has been active in organizations such as Junior Achievement, Stillwaters Cancer Support, the United Performing Arts Fund and TEMPO Envision. Kelly holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management from Stritch and said she lives by Henry Ford’s words, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t… you’re right!” Kelly is a concert violinist, a native of Michigan, married, and mother to Ava, 10, and William, 6.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Stritch 

Sara Bayer, ’05 ’10, B.A. Sociology, Political Science, M.S. Sport Management

A former Stritch basketball star, Sara Bayer maintains close ties with the University through several volunteer roles. Owner of the Bayer Performance Institute, a personal training and fitness company, Sara is a certified personal trainer and performance enhancement specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now assists Stritch athletic teams in the formation and implementation of their strength and conditioning programs and volunteers as the performance enhancement coach for the women’s basketball team. Remembering lessons she learned from former women’s basketball coach Rich Panella about the importance of being a good person and giving back to her community, Sara considers it her duty to not only give back to the University but also to help others achieve their dreams.

Following Rich’s ALS diagnosis last year, Sara organized “Panella’s Pack” in the Walk to Defeat ALS and recruited hundreds of volunteers to form a team that raised the highest total of any team in the walk -- $27,159. Last September, Bayer Performance Institute ran the “Give It All” fitness boot camp with all proceeds benefiting the Rich and Mira Panella Scholarship Fund. In addition, she volunteers her time calling alumni athletes to encourage donations to the scholarship fund. After losing both parents when she was a teenager, Sara credits Jane and Mark Maley with providing her the love and guidance that has changed her life and made her a better person.