Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
Christus Super Omnia Distinguished Alumna | Living The Spirit | Franciscan Charism
Past Recipients 

Click here to see all past award recipients 

2016 Honorees


Marilyn Wittmann '66

  • Appointed the first female principal of buffalo's Bennett High School in 1984.and served 20 years before retiring from that position
  • After retirement, was instrumental in keeping Bennett High School as a Buffalo Public School through the all-volunteer Bennett Redesign Team
  • Is a seven-year volunteer with Meals on Wheels for Western New York, delivering two routes a day, five days a week, reaching upwards of 24 home-bound, elderly and disabled in East Buffalo

Maureen Forrester Finney, Ed.D, Pa-C '87

  • Was named D'Youville College's dean of the School of Health Professions and serves as the chair of their Middle States Accreditation Committee
  • Spent 14 years as chair of D'Youville College's Physician Assistant Program and is a practicing physician assistant in under-served areas of Buffalo
  • Has been published seven times, completed 20 medical presentations at the state and national level, directed more than 25 research projects and received several awards
  • Is a competitive runner and mother of two, the oldest of whom followed in her mother's footsteps and was recently voted president of the SHA class of 2019

Joyelle Szymanek Tedeschi, MSW '97 

  • Co-Founded the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Homeless Outreach Program in 2006 on less than $50,000
  • Received the Sister Jeanne Frank Award (SHA Class of 1947) for her tenacity in securing government funding for the Code Blue program, keeping the homeless sheltered during extreme weather
  • Instrumental in reducing the number of people living on the street by nearly half before HUD's annual 2012 Point-in-Time count
  • Accomplished a lifelong goal by opening a satellite Friends of the Night People soup kitchen at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Hope Center

Franciscan Charism Award


Betsy Sullivan

  • Co-chairs the Diocese of Buffalo's current Upon this Rock $100 Million capital campaign, is an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, is a Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo trustee, serves on the Gala 22:6 committee and is a member of the Many Faces of Mercy Giving Circle
  • Serves as BISON Children's Scholarship Fund board member, Sacred Heart Academy Parent Guild volunteer, Canisius High School volunteer and co-chaired Sacred Heart Academy's 2011 Celebrate our Tradition, Build our Future $4.4 million capital campaign
  • Currently serves in a leadership role with Buffalo Truck Center, Inc. and in the past, held a senior management position with The CID Group, Inc.
  • Is an avid photographer, enjoys flying, travel and reading, has been married for 23 years and has three children, Abigail '13, Joseph and Rebecca '17

Living the Spirit Award


Crisis Services of Erie County

  • Dedicated to promoting the health, safety and well-being of the community through prevention, education, immediate intervention and access to community-wide resources 24 hours a day
  • In the first half of 2016, answered 34,430 crisis calls, conducted 1,337 mental health outreach visits, responded to 435 domestic and sexual violence hospital cases and provided 3,073 individuals with education and training
  • In 2015, trained nearly 150 Erie County police officers to ensure their ability in responding to individuals with mental illness

2015 Honorees

Christus Super Omnia Distinguished Alumna

Sister Mary Clement Schubert '48

Sister Clement's life of service has taken her to the farthest reaches of Africa, and back home again to Sacred Heart Academy. In her early career, she taught in New York, Ohio and New Jersey before traveling to Rome to work for a year. Following her experience in Rome, Sr. Clement went to Tanzania (then called Tanganyika), where she pursued work as a missionary and educator. 

She worked in Africa for many years as both a teacher and head mistress. Life was simple, hard and rewarding in the missionary school setting.

Between trips to Africa, Sr. Clement taught at Sacred Heart Academy. After her final assignment in Africa concluded, she worked locally as the outreach coordinator for St. Barnabas Parish, Buffalo for 18 years. 


Mary Ruth Leberer Haberman '57

Mary Ruth Leberer Haberman '57 has distinguished herself through both her professional career and her dedication to volunteer service. Upon graduation from Rosary Hill (now Daemen College), Mary Ruth pursued a career in Neurosonography. Under the mentorship of Dr. Olczewski at the VA Medical Center, Mary Ruth was the first and only professional trained in a groundbreaking technique to monitor blood flow through the brain.

Through out her career at Buffalo General Hospital, Mary Ruth focused her work on neuroscience,  working with infant and adult patients.

Mary Ruth's active and groundbreaking career never got in the way of her passion for volunteerism. Most prominently she has given generously of her time to Little Portion Friary, Hospice Buffalo, Regional AIDS Interfaith Network and the Daemen College Alumni association. Mary Ruth worked tirelessly for the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart's Parent Guild while her daughter, Patty Haberman, DDS was a student and continues to serve on our Golf Tournament Committee. 

Mary Ruth is the recipient of many previous honors, including the Diocese of Buffalo's Pro Vitae Award and the Daemen College Distinguished Alumni Award. 


Mary Jo Hezel Ketchum '59

Mary Jo Hezel Ketchum '59 has been called one of the most successful promoters of philanthropic events in all of Western New York. Early leadership roles at SHA continued to play out as Mary Jo guided fundraising efforts at human services agencies and schools. Her professional work includes the "institutionalization" of Gambit at Canisius High School, developing that event into the standard by which other dinner auction fundraising events are judged. As a consultant, she introduced Maestrosoft (a special event auction software program) to over 20 auctions locally, and throughout the Northeast. She has guided capital campaigns for People Inc.,The Summit Center and St. Louis Church, among others.

Most recently, Mary Jo's entrepreneurial spirit has been coupled with the need to assist breast cancer survivors find properly fitting undergarments through high tech solutions. Her endeavor, for which she recently applied for a patent, launched with fellow SHA Alum Tina Zinter-Chahin, uses 3 Dimensional printing to improve lives by providing garments that change how a woman feels about and imagines herself.

Mary Jo served as President of the Board of Directors of Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart for many years, during which she ushered in many changes and led successful campaigns. Mary Jo chairs the Advisory Board of the Brothers of Mercy Campus Foundation in Clarence, NY. She has committed countless hours to Buffalo's Nativity Miguel school, located on the East Side. She is a member of the Board of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society and the Elma Meadows Women's Golf Club.

Mary Jo has been a lifelong volunteer and vocal advocate for the needy, choosing to support Gerard Place, where she attended elementary school, for the rest of her life.

Numerous times when Mary Jo did not have "much to spare" she anonymously gave to others who were down and out. She is a true "secret Santa" all year long. She is frequently found at times and in places where her only goal is seeking to be a better Christian.


Franciscan Charism

Eileen Maloney

 Miss Eileen Maloney has been a pillar of the Sacred Heart Academy community for more than 30 years. As a long time faculty member, she has influenced the lives of countless students.

Throughout her career at Sacred Heart, Eileen has shared her talents and leadership skills in a wide variety of ways. Serving as Senior Class moderator, English Department Chairperson and supporting the Middle States Accreditation team are just a few ways she has gone above and beyond. Furthermore, she is a frequent fixture at events and activities. Students and alumna alike seek her out and love staying in touch with "Miss Maloney."

In everything she does, Eileen Maloney represents the values of St. Francis and St. Clare, and acts as an example of their Charism to students past and present.




Living the Spirit

Meals on Wheels for Western New York

Meals on Wheels for WNY provides food and friendship to the vulnerable in our society, the elderly and the disabled, regardless of their ability to pay.  Many of their clients lack the financial resources to purchase nutritious food. Each of their approximately 3,600 clients are simply asked to make a voluntary contribution. No qualifying individual is ever turned away if they are unable to contribute.  

Just as vital as the nutritional benefits is the daily interaction with the volunteer delivering their meals.  For many clients, that volunteer is the only person they see all day, all week, or even all year.  In a recent survey, 75% of the responding clients described their delivery volunteers as valued friends.  These relationships are crucial to their well-being.

Through their official mission, Meals on Wheels for WNY and their volunteers are enriching the lives and promoting independent healthy living by offering nutritious food and a friendly visit.  Meals on Wheels for WNY volunteers offer something that, sadly, many program participants lack in their lives: caring frequent personal interaction.  During the holidays, those they assist get a little something extra as beneficiaries of the Angel Cards program.  Through the support of schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, Scouting groups and other organizations looking for volunteer and learning opportunities, they receive Christmas and Hanukkah cards, bookmarks, magnets, place mats and photos. 

As the second largest organization of its kind in the nation, Meals on Wheels for WNY keeps our community healthy by delivering 900,000 meals annually through 1,500 active volunteers.