Shining a spotlight on our alumni
Join us in celebrating the work of these Cardinal Stritch University alumni, whose professional work is making a difference in their communities, in their workplaces and in the lives of the people they serve.
A.S. Business, ’02
B.S. Management, ’14
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers appointed Joaquin Altoro executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) in June 2019.
Altoro transitioned to the job from a 27-year banking career in both residential and commercial lending, most recently serving as Town Bank’s Vice President of Commercial Banking. In addition to his professional roles, he also served on boards and advisory committees to help rural and urban populations meet their economic development needs, served as an expert panel speaker for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on local and national community development strategies, and taught at the Center for Financial Training.
“Access to affordable housing is another important part of how we think about economic development in a more holistic way and connect the dots to attract new businesses and encourage existing businesses to grow,” Evers said at the time of Altoro’s appointment. “I’m proud and excited to have Mr. Altoro serve in this critical role ensuring that the state’s commitment to housing remains strong and solid.”
In recognition of his work, Altoro received the “Be the Change” award from the Milwaukee Urban League and recognition as a “Milwaukee Game Changer” by MKElifestyle magazine.
Katie (Landa) Cummings
B.A. Theater, ’97
In fall 2018, Katie (Landa) Cummings established Milwaukee’s Pink Umbrella Theater Company, which is accessible and inclusive for people who identify with a physical, intellectual or emotional disability.
As the first professional theater company of its kind in Milwaukee, Pink Umbrella Theater not only provides programming, classes and workshops that include people of all abilities, but also consults with other area theater companies.
The inspiration for Cummings to start this theater company came while she worked as academy director at First Stage. Her encounters with Emily, a student whose “version of the world was full of words, sounds, light and, most importantly, laughter” and a pivotal four-day symposium in New York City, helped shape her vision for the Pink Umbrella Theater Company.
After graduating from Stritch, Cummings worked at First Stage, Bunny Gumbo, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Chamber Theater and St. Joseph High School.
Watch and listen to media stories and interviews for more details on the theater company.
Read the June 8, 2020, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the theater company's successful pandemic response.
Jean (Schram) Gunderson
B.A. Education, ’99
The South Dakota Department of Education honored Jean (Schram) Gunderson as one of five 2020 Teacher of the Year finalists. She is a K-6 Title reading teacher at Elkton Elementary School in Elkton, South Dakota, and has worked for the past 20 years with students from all grade levels, preschool-12, starting in Milwaukee Public Schools.
The Teacher of the Year honor recognizes Gunderson’s advocacy efforts, development of personalized lessons and programming for her students, role in helping start two new schools, and creation of documents for Elkton’s literacy program, which includes a plan focused on the success of English learners. Prior to this recognition, Gunderson previously earned teacher of the month, teacher of the year and recognition of excellence honors at the schools where she worked.
“Mrs. Gunderson is an advocate for students, an effective educator and a supportive mentor,” wrote colleague Kelly Short in her recommendation letter. “She embodies all the qualities of an educator who continually makes a difference in education for our school and community.”
In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Stritch, she earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a member of the International Literacy Association.
Judge Paul Dedinsky, Ph.D.
Ph.D. Leadership, Learning and Service, ’12
Paul Dedinsky, ’12, who serves as Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge, Branch 5, decorates his courtroom in the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center with special, one-of-a-kind artwork.
Bay View High School students designed and painted the colorful works that spell the word “GOALS” that hang behind his bench. They hope to encourage youth who appear in Dedinsky’s courtroom to set goals for themselves. Dedinsky originally met the students’ teacher after introducing and implementing restorative justice practices in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Children often draw pictures for Dedinsky, who then hangs the works behind his bench.
His courtroom also features a shelf filled with books donated by the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association which provides a voice for children who have been removed from the homes of their parents and placed in foster homes. Children who appear in court are encouraged to take books with them.
Dedinsky began serving on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in January 2019. He worked for more than two decades as a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney. From 2017–2019 he served as chief legal counsel toto the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.