2012 Alumni Award Recipients

Congratulations to the following alumni who were selected by the Alumni Board of Directors as the 2012 Alumni Award Recipients.

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

Samantha Erschen, '09, B.A. Psychology, Religious Studies; '11, M.A. Ministry

Devoting her life to serving the pastoral and spiritual needs of those living in assisted living, memory care units, skilled nursing, and hospice care, two-time alumna Samantha Erschen believes in the "reverence of creation" at every stage of life. Hired by St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, Wis., at age 21 with just her bachelor's degree, Erschen is one of the youngest Catholic chaplains working in the U.S. today and the youngest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In an industry where the average age of active chaplains is 63, getting such a position as an undergraduate right out of college is unheard of, but Erschen had excelled and was well prepared as a student in Stritch's Lilly Religious Scholars Vocation Program (RSVP).

In her role as chaplain, Erschen works to help residents at St. Camillus find "purpose" in life. She works with more than 75 people of various faiths to explore their spirituality and confront end-of-life issues. She meets with them one-on-one, organizes service projects, and leads groups through the rosary, Bible studies, and prayer services. Erschen also is called to administer tender touches, soft-spoken prayers, and gentle guidance as the residents approach their final hours.

Erschen already has received numerous awards for her work, including being named Employee of the Year in Customer Service in 2010 for her outstanding service at St. Camillus. That same year, she also was recognized by Divine Savior Holy Angels High School as their Young Alumna of the Year, recognizing her exemplary leadership in society. Erschen holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and religious studies and a master's degree in ministry from Stritch and was the 2009 recipient of Stritch's Pace e Bene award, given to students who incorporate Stritch's mission into their personal, spiritual, and faith lives.

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

Molly D. Shiffler, Ed.D. Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service, '04

Molly D. Shiffler, Ed.D., serves as the director of Cardinal Stritch University's Literacy Centers. She has worked tirelessly to provide exemplary literacy instruction for all children in the Milwaukee area. Under her leadership, the centers have expanded from one to five locations with hopes of adding more. Shiffler, along with Stritch professor Dr. JoAnne Caldwell, researched, designed, and implemented an intervention model called CLIFFTOPS, reflecting the complex nature of literacy acquisition. This unique model is used to serve the more than 300 students served each semester at the five Literacy Centers. Shiffler has been instrumental in receiving a multi-year improving teacher quality grant, which through repeated funding, has given more than 50 Milwaukee-area teachers training in advanced literacy instruction and assessment techniques.

Shiffler, a tenured assistant professor at Stritch, has taught courses in the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the School of Urban Initiatives and the Language and Literacy Department. Shiffler has presented her work on childhood literacy in both local and national venues. In 2011, Shiffler was appointed to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Milwaukee Succeeds Literacy Team and to the University of Wisconsin Internal Evaluation Team for Milwaukee Public Schools' Comprehensive Literacy Plan. Shiffler holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from DePauw University, a master's in reading instruction from Michigan State University, and a doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service from Stritch. Shiffler has been married 43 years and has two sons and a grandson.

Spirit of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service

Rev. Gerri Sheets-Howard, '06, M.A. Religious Studies

The Rev. Geraldine 'Gerri' Sheets-Howard has devoted her life to serving the needs of the poor, advocating for social justice issues, and defending the rights of those less fortunate. As the first female layperson appointed executive director of The Province of St. Joseph-House of Peace (HOP), a Capuchin ministry in Milwaukee, Sheets-Howard manages all aspects of this multi-faceted ministry that serves the poor in Milwaukee.

In 2010, Sheets-Howard wrote and received a grant from the Faye-McBeath Foundation to fund healthy food initiatives among those who are served at the House of Peace. The grant provided funds for ongoing education that helped participants begin and maintain healthy eating habits. Most importantly, the grant helped provide access to healthier food options for participants. In addition to her House of Peace position, Sheets-Howard is actively involved in ministry as the pastor of New Bradford Memorial African Methodist Church in Milwaukee.

Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Sheets-Howard was a deputy sheriff with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department for nine years. Sheets-Howard holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Lakeland College and a master's degree in religious studies from Stritch. She currently is working toward a Master of Divinity degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Sheets-Howard is married and the proud mother of two sons, Joshua and Isaiah.

Spirit of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Service

Winston Sharpe Jr., M.S. Management, '11

Winston Sharpe Jr. has dedicated himself to working with inner city youth and improving community stability through numerous volunteer roles. Having served as a vice president for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and a program developer for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching for more than 14 years, he is familiar with what it takes to develop strong leadership skills. He is the president of Champions for PEACE Scuba Divers, which is an affiliate of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers and was established in 1992 to enhance the critical thinking skills of at-risk youth (ages 12-18) through scuba diving and mentoring.

In addition to his work with Champions for PEACE, Sharpe has remained committed to his community through his involvement on a number of nonprofit boards including: the Global Youth Leadership Institute, National Black Child Development Institute, The Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals, 100 Black Men of Milwaukee, and Habitat for Humanity in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Sharpe is the recipient of the "Do the Write Thing" writing award for at-risk youth, the "Martin Luther King Jr. Keeping the Dream Alive" award sponsored by the Mecklenburg County North Carolina Board of Commissioners, and the "Service to Diving" award presented by the National Association of Black Scuba Divers.

He has published two books focusing on motivating, educating, and lifting the spirits of African American males. Sharpe holds a bachelor's degree in human and community services from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., and a Master of Science in Management degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Sharpe is the proud father of two sons.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

James T. Alfred, B.A. International Business, '96

James T. Alfred is an accomplished actor, speaker, and mentor who continues to re-invent himself. After graduating from Stritch with a bachelor's degree in international business in 1996, Alfred landed a position with the FMC Corporation, a Fortune 500 company where he managed multi-million dollar accounts for the phosphates division, of the Chemical Products Group. After spending only a few years in corporate America, Alfred decided to pursue his true passion: a career in the arts. Soon after, Alfred was selected for the M.F.A program at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, one of the top dramatic training institutions in the country. As part of the program, Alfred studied acting in Russia at the famed Moscow Art Theatre School.

Upon graduation, Alfred immediately went to work in the American Theatre, where he has garnered a reputation as a Wilsonian Actor, an actor who has demonstrated through practice the ability to perform the works of the late, great August Wilson. In just 10 years, he has built an impressive body of work, working at some of the most prestigious theaters in the country, including the highly regarded Guthrie and Steppenwolf theaters. He has been cast in roles for theater, film, and television.

In the fall of 2012, Alfred will appear on the hit Starz TV drama "Boss," staring Kelsey Grammer. In addition to his acting, Alfred writes and produces for both the screen and stage and runs his own multimedia production company, Turhan International. Alfred also is a dedicated mentor. Partnering with Chicago Public Schools, he established a program that uses theater to provide a platform for dialogue and give voice to at-risk inner city youth. He mentors young actors and offers guidance to those seeking a career in the entertainment business. In 2011, Alfred received highest honors from both the Black Theatre Alliance and the African American Arts Alliance for his work in the critically-acclaimed production of "Brothers of the Dust." Alfred currently resides in Chicago.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

Souheil Badran, '88, B.A. Computer Studies, '97, M.B.A.

Through exemplary leadership, Souheil Badran continues to excel in shaping the future of global e-commerce security and payments. In 2011, Badran became the senior vice president and general manager of Digital River Incorporated in Minneapolis, where he provides executive leadership for a full range of functions, including strategic planning, sales, product marketing, and public relations. In the short time he has been with the company, Badran has had a fundamental role in expanding the corporation's customer reach, increasing revenue, and developing the company's first customer advisory board.

Prior to working at Digital River, Badran held multiple senior-level positions with e-commerce companies including serving as senior vice president and general manager for eCommerce Solutions at First Data Corporation, a Fortune 250 company, and VeriSign, where he served as vice president and general manager for international operations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Central and Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Badran is a current member of Stritch's Board of Trustees. Originally from Lebanon, Badran holds a bachelor's degree in computer studies and an M.B.A., both from Stritch. He met his wife Lisa, while a student at Stritch, and they have three daughters.