Alumni are the heart of Kennedy Catholic and its community. It is the goal of the Kennedy Catholic Alumni office to build and foster connections that will strengthen relationships between Kennedy Catholic and its community of nearly 10,000 graduates, friends, students and donors in order to maximize alumni and donor interest in, and engagement with, the school.
If you would be interested in helping to plan your reunion for the classes of 1989 or 1999, contact Rebecca Nuffer.
Class of 1979
Your reunion is already on the calendar! Save the Date of August 9 for golf at Maplewood, and August 10 for a gathering at Glen Acres. Contact Sue (Marsland) Hearron (email@example.com) for more information.
Classes of 1989 and 1999
Planning has begun! If you have any questions or would like to join, please contact Rebecca Nuffer.
Class of 2009
Planning has begun! If you have any questions or would like to join, please contact Rebecca Nuffer or Elena Armstrong '09.
Support your Lancers at any of our annual events. We'd love to see you there!
|KATCH Auction||April 6, 2019|
|Crab Feed||January 26, 2019|
|Grandparents Day||May 3, 2019|
|Arts and Crafts Fair||December 1, 2018|
|Homecoming Week||October 1-6, 2018|
|Trick or Treat||October 26, 2018|
|Easter Egg Hunt||April 12, 2019|
|Lancer Golf Classic||August 17, 2018|
|Italian Dinner||September 15, 2018|
If you're an alum from the past ten years, you're in! You're automatically eligible for special access and discounts to Kennedy Catholic events, including our Local Lancers brewery night. You'll have the chance to mentor current students and share your own journey by participating as a social media ambassador or volunteering for our Brown Bag Lunch Series. Let us know how you'd like to stay involved today!
Hoping to reconnect with classmates from years past? Or, looking for a place to share reunion information? Log into our Lancer Alumni Portal today in the left hand sidebar! You'll find our alumni directory, and a link to your own alumni class page. Contact Rebecca Nuffer with questions.
- February 2018: Jim Vandenberg '74
- January 2018: Gretchen Seay '89
- December 2017: Jackson Diller '13
- November 2017: Julie Pilat '95
- October 2017: Justin Cox '03
- September 2017 Profile: Conor Brogan '14
- June 2017 Profile: Paul Danforth '02
- May 2017 Profile: Lieutenant Commander Rome Delasalas '87
- April 2017 Profile: Rebecca Saldaña '95
- March 2017 Profile: Vince McCluskey '10
- February 2017 Profile: Catie Pennie '13
- January 2017 Profile: Patti Skoda '87
- December 2016 Profile: Demitri Pallis '81
- November 2016 Profile: Nick Beyer '03
- October 2016 Profile: Colonel Daniel Furber '87
- September 2016 Profile: Janet Bland '83
- July 2016 Profile: Greg Conner '91
- June 2016 Profile: J. Michael Diaz ‘92
- May 2016 Profile: Phyllis Knopp '80
- April 2016 Profile: Marty Yellam '76
- March 2016 Profile: Brandon LaVielle ‘04
- February 2016 Profile: Greg Lutovsky '81
- January 2016 Profile: Martha (DeLorenzo) McKenna '82
- December 2015 Profile: Dr. Christine (Pollinger) Tweedy '81
- November 2015 Profile: Mateo Messina '90
- October 2015 Profile: Lydia DiGiovanni Voiland '85
- September 2015 Profile: American Ninja Warrior - James "The Beast" McGrath '05
Jim Vandenberg first came to Kennedy Catholic in 1970 as a young student. Walking into the new school, he quickly discovered the depth of community from both the students and the faculty. As a member of the Cross-Country team, and German Club, he discovered himself and his own strengths. He also made lasting friendships.
When thinking of his career, he originally thought he might channel his interest in science towards becoming a doctor. Jim also considered becoming a priest, devoting many years of his life to studying with the Jesuits before deciding his ultimate goal and purpose was teaching. He stayed close to his roots in the Pacific Northwest and his faith, teaching at Catholic grade schools around Seattle before moving to teach at the high school level.
It was 2007 when Jim came back to Kennedy Catholic, this time as a teacher. Through the years, he has been active in the school community in many ways. While teaching math, theology, and even German for a year, Jim brightened his student’s days, quickly becoming a resource that they could rely on. He has volunteered his time supervising KOOCS (Kids Offering Others Care and Support), serving breakfast for homeless men and women on weekends at Nativity House in Tacoma. He has also given his time to athletics, coaching Cross Country. With his wide range of involvement, Jim has had the opportunity to lead students from all areas of interest over the years.
Jim is soft spoken, and rarely accepts praise for himself, yet he is an integral member of the Kennedy Catholic community. He takes pride in teaching, and is motivated by the students and teachers he works with every day. In person, he stays true to the image you’ll see of him in the yearbook, smiling, welcoming, and never without his favorite accessory: a cup of tea.
Gretchen Seay ’89 has always been driven by her intellectual curiosity. She was deeply involved with the Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) and German clubs during her time at Kennedy Catholic, and participated as a German Exchange Student the summer before her junior year. There, her passion for international studies continued to grow.
Thanks in part to the small classes and community at Kennedy Catholic, Gretchen was mentored by teachers and staff who guided her during her time as a student and beyond. Mr. Joe Kennedy, advisor for JSA, was particularly influential. His club was a mix of politics and debate. To build on his club lessons and give students more hands-on experience, he arranged for the Washington Supreme Court to come to campus and moderate a debate by members of the JSA club.
During college, Gretchen was able to continue honing her language skills by acting as the Russian translator at the University District Food Bank. With a passion for international studies, Gretchen had hoped to work for the Foreign Service and be a part of bringing down the Iron Curtain. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union around the time she graduated from college, there was less need from the US government. With her extensive language skills, Gretchen chose to work for the private sector, living abroad in Russia for a short time. As the co-founder and Managing Director of Clearsight Advisors Inc., Gretchen has demonstrated her ability to thrive in the business world, both nationally and internationally. During her 10+ years of experience, she has worked incredibly hard, being recognized with several Deal of the Year awards, and the Max H. Block award., and most recently, the honor of being named to the list of Most Influential Women in Mergers and Acquisitions.
With such a busy schedule, Gretchen makes sure to take time for herself and her family. A recent transplant to Dallas, TX, she balances the demands of her career with the joy of her family. Some things haven’t changed; she’s sure to find some time each winter to ski, and still has the travel bug (only now, with a family along for the ride).
Jackson Diller ’13 spent his time at Kennedy Catholic trying a little bit of everything. He immersed himself in the band program, participating in the marching, symphonic, and jazz band, for all four years. Through retired Band Director Jim Paynton’s patience and encouragement, Jackson gained faith in his own abilities. He still remembers his mentor’s impressive musical knowledge and ability to empower his students. When he wasn’t fine tuning his musical skills, Jackson gave his time to the athletic fields, running endless miles for Coach McMillen in Cross Country, and helping to establish the Kennedy Catholic Lacrosse program.
That intensity and involvement stayed with him after he graduated, and began college at the University of Washington. With so many interests, Jackson took a wide variety of classes, quickly leaning toward computer programming and film. While both were interesting paths, Jackson ultimately decided to pursue his studies with film. He was also able to give his time as a published editor for the University of Washington Undergraduate Law Review.
His entrepreneurial nature has kept him trying new things, and helped him have an open mind with any opportunity that came up. Throughout the past few years, he has worked with several production companies in Seattle, mostly technology focused. Jackson also had the opportunity to work with media production last summer, strategizing with companies about how best to utilize video communication. When the opportunity came up to intern with Disney and ABC Television Group, he knew he had to jump on it. It’s given him the chance to apply his analytical skills and knowledge of audience engagement. Having big dreams has always paid off for Jackson, and he plans to continue dreaming big, hoping it will one day lead to the opportunity to direct a feature film himself.
Music has always been more than a hobby for Julie Pilat ’95. It has shaped her life, inspiring her in school and in her career. It would be easy to trace her life story around music, starting by learning everything she could at her first radio station job, serving as the DJ for school dances, registering to vote at a Foo Fighters concert, running a radio station in her twenties, and leading the way into streaming channels.
Tracing her story back to her time at Kennedy Catholic, she was focused on her passion for music, and was inspired by the teachers and students that make the Kennedy Catholic family what it is. Thanks to the support of Father Batterberry, she acted as the designated school DJ for all of the dances. He believed in her and supported her, much like Mr. McCluskey. To this day, she can still recite the definition of morality, which was a question on every one of his tests. “Morality is that which is used to distinguish right from wrong in human behavior and relationships.” Mr. McCluskey passed away shortly after she graduated. In the winter of 1996, Julie came back to Kennedy Catholic to honor his memory as the DJ for the fundraiser in support of the McCluskey family.
After graduation, she continued working for local radio stations while attending the University of Washington and Arizona State University. Julie’s goal for her career was to one day be the Music Director at KIIS FM – a goal she accomplished when she was just 25. Julie was always one step ahead of the curve. After she became the music director, she had no idea what her next step would be. She remembers thinking that her job hadn’t been created yet, and she was right. Social media and streaming completely changed the business, and allowed for music to be on demand anywhere, anytime.
About five years ago, an opportunity emerged, and Julie was offered the job of Head of Music at Beats when Jimmy Iovine launched Beats Music. The following year, Beats Music was bought by Apple, and now she’s programming a worldwide radio station, Beats 1, on Apple Music. This position is allowing her to travel the world, building relationships and programming music for a global audience. It’s fostering her love of all kinds of music, and giving her new challenges. During this same time, Julie has seen some of her greatest personal and professional accomplishments, including having a cameo in The Defiant Ones on HBO, and being included on Billboard’s 40 Under 40 list. Always ready for the next big thing, Julie can’t wait to see what will be next for her.
Justin Cox ’03 graduated from Kennedy Catholic with a plan: marry his now-wife Jennifer Cox (Hilton) ’04, and join the family business. Before he knew it, he had accomplished both. Justin’s family owns a one-of-a-kind business. His typical day varies wildly, but it is all about embracing his and his clients’ creativity. It’s even in the business name: Creative Ice.
Before joining the family business, Justin was deeply involved with the Kennedy Catholic family. He and his wife Jennifer dated all through high school and Justin joined the cross country team. Coaches Mr. McMillen and Mr. Lang showed Justin that running could be enjoyable, and that hard work will always pay off. It’s a lesson that Justin has applied to his life since then.
On any given day, Justin can be found in the shop with his signature boots and tee shirt. He might be forming the 300-pound ice blocks that are the base of all his projects, crafting a batch of specialty cocktail ice, or etching a company logo in a custom made sculpture.
Justin works side by side with his father, Steve, taking ice and turning it into works of art. Their talent and teamwork was highlighted at the 2013 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, where they were part of the team that won first place. The competition lasted six days, with temperatures ranging between 40 degrees and -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The challenge required extreme endurance, transforming giant blocks of ice into a custom masterpiece. The finished piece, titled Hunting Dragons, towered over 7 feet tall.
In the future, Justin is looking forward to coming back to Kennedy Catholic as a parent. He hopes his two kids, Kyle and Carter, will experience the same sense of community and support with the Lancer Family.
Studying at Kennedy Catholic is where Conor Brogan ’14 first learned to be a leader. He remembers always being encouraged and supported, while being pushed to do his very best. The Lancer family is full of supportive faculty, staff and classmates, but Mr. Vinson stands out among them. As Conor’s teacher both Sophomore and Senior years, he built confidence in his students, encouraging them to voice their opinions, but always have facts to support their arguments. As Conor noted, Mr. Vinson genuinely cares about his students, and he acted as a mentor to Conor through the entire college application process.
In the Fall of 2014, Conor started school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he will graduate with a degree in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship. Here, his leadership and mentoring skills have become an integral part of who he is. His school work has been focused on learning through doing, as have his summer jobs, like being a Wildland Firefighter. Conor discovered how to connect his skills and motivations into a future career with the Marines. He was accepted into Officer Candidate School for this past summer, and recently returned home.
Officer Candidate School (OCS) was an intensive ten-week course, with demanding physical and mental training exercises. Here, Conor’s leadership skills were put to the test, leading small teams through training courses. With his hard work and dedicated, Conor graduated from OCS and this winter, after he finishes his last quarter at Cal Poly, he will be on his way to basic training in Quantico, VA. From there, he will move on to his final step of flight school to train as an airman for the Marines.
Recognizing that everything he does reflects on his family, Conor strives to always do his best. He’s looking forward to living around the country throughout his training, and living the core values of the Marine Corps: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
Nothing says time to read more than summer. At least not according to Paul Danforth ‘02, Kennedy Catholic alumnus and English teacher. He hopes to make it through about 15 books this summer, when he’s not looking for ways to improve his lessons for next year.
Paul was drawn into teaching from his parents. His mother taught special education, and his father taught English and Technology Tools at Kennedy Catholic for 40 years. Teachers like his father, Mr. Josie and Mrs. Burns (McCurdy) continually inspired him as a student with their passion and commitment, and made Kennedy Catholic feel like home.
After graduating from Western Washington University with a degree in English Literature, he went on to earn his teaching certificate. He was hired shortly after at Burlington-Edison High School, where he taught for seven years, served as English Department Chair for three years, and coached volleyball, basketball and track. Paul was selected as Rotary Teacher of the Year, an honor given by the Rotary Seniors, parents and fellow teachers.
Looking ahead to next year, his fourth year teaching English, Paul is excited. It will be the first year that he will see students that he first had as Freshmen again in his class as Seniors. He’s looking forward to seeing how they’ve changed, and what service projects they’ve been involved with. Through his involvement teaching them, and their foundation of a Kennedy Catholic education, he hopes to send them on to their next step prepared for anything.
On April 17, 2017, Lieutenant Commander Rome Delasalas ’87 completed a lifelong goal. He was one of over 32,000 registrants participating in the Boston Marathon. A dedicated runner, he completes somewhere between 200-300 miles each month. Competing in the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong goal for Rome, one that started back in 1996 when he ran the Los Angeles Marathon. Since then, he has completed sixteen marathons and four Ironman races.
Rome’s passion for running has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. As a student at Kennedy Catholic, Rome was a three-time varsity letterman, and held the school record for the 4x100 relay. Mr. Danforth and Mr. Waltner pushed him toward excellence, encouraging him during countless Spring track practices. Even today, Rome moves through each day with the goal to be better than yesterday.
Coaches weren’t the only source of inspiration at Kennedy Catholic. Rome notes that Mr. Paynton, former math teacher, demonstrated that working with numbers and thinking analytically could actually be fun. Mr. Muckerheide focused on the written word and the meaning that could be found in it.
Rome went on to have a successful career in the United States Navy, with positions in California, Washington, Japan and Tennessee during his more than 20 years of service. Today, Rome is happily married to his wife of over 25 years, Grace, with whom he shares his son, Christian. He enjoys his time in the outdoors, and working with his Boykin Spaniel on agility and bird retrieval.
In March of 2017, students from Kennedy Catholic’s Public Policy and Honors Social Justice classes had the opportunity to sit down in Olympia with recently appointed State Senator Rebecca Saldaña ’95. Rebecca has always been a passionate supporter of social justice; striving for leadership roles and opportunities. Now, she is able to share those experiences with students from her alma mater, who may one day aspire to be where she is.
Growing up, Rebecca had an early exposure to fellow students being bullied and excluded. She always felt the desire to work to counteract those experiences. So, when she started at Kennedy Catholic, Rebecca focused on being an inclusive member of the school community, constantly making an effort to reach out to all groups of students. She participated in anything and everything that sounded interesting to her, including being a member of Cross Country, SKY club, Science Club, Spanish Honors Society, KOOKS, and Co-Editor of the Yearbook.
It wasn’t just other students she learned from. Rebecca remembers Brian McCluskey as a champion of leadership and decision making skills. He treated students like adults and challenged them to really look at the world. Myrna Moffatt pushed her study of Spanish forward, but also helped her with self-discovery of her heritage.
Rebecca studied Theology at Seattle University before working as a union organizer with the farmworkers union of Oregon, PCUN, and as the Executive Director for Puget Sound Sage. Through her journey, Rebecca is especially proud of her involvement in the 2016 Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellows Program. The program is an initiative that focuses on the importance of having women’s voices represented, and provided coaching from mentors.
Voted Most Likely to Succeed in her Senior yearbook, Rebecca believes this reflects her classmates’ confidence in her ability to lead, and is honored to be serving in the State Senate.
Vince McCluskey ’10 has always had a strong connection to Kennedy Catholic. His father, Brian McCluskey, was a beloved member of the staff, until he passed away in 1996, teaching religion and leading Search retreats. His brother, Nick McCluskey, followed in his father’s footsteps working with the Search retreats, as well as teaching history. Now, Vince is coming back to his alma mater as head coach for the Boys’ soccer team.
While a student at Kennedy Catholic, Vince was actively involved in a wide range of activities. Not only was he a varsity soccer player, he was also a part of the French Honor Society, Relay for Life, and an immersion trip to Cape Town, South Africa. He dedicated himself to being an exceptional person in every aspect of his life. After graduation, Vince continued his passion for soccer with the University of Puget Sound. The highlight of his time there was playing and winning a Northwest Conference Title and scoring a golden goal in overtime of the first round of the National Tournament in 2014.
For the past two and a half years, Vince has been a member of the Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team. On the team of 25, many of them are locals, just like Vince. When not playing himself, he is busy coaching students of all ages, from as young as 8, up through high school. Now, he is excited to share his experience and passion as head coach for the Boys’ soccer team at Kennedy Catholic. As Vince puts it, “soccer is a lifetime of emotions rolled up into 90 minutes,” and he is looking forward to sharing his experience and helping the students win. After all, for him, coming back to Kennedy Catholic is like coming home.
Just a few short weeks ago, Catie Pennie ’13 was sitting in her old seat in the Jim Paynton band room at Kennedy Catholic High School. That morning, along with the rest of the University of Portland Orchestra, Catie shared her musical talents with current students and faculty, performing several arrangements. Though she graduated several years ago, Catie still feels welcomed as part of the one-of-a-kind Lancer family.
During her time at Kennedy Catholic, Catie was actively involved in music, athletics, and academics. She was constantly driven by her desire to be her best self, and pursued all of her interests. A talented athlete throughout her life, Catie was awarded the Carl J. Velling Student Athlete Award at Kennedy Catholic for her excellence in cross country and as a track captain. Today, she stays involved with running, finding time on the side to run marathons.
As a Dean’s list student, varsity athlete, and talented musician at the University of Portland, Catie worked tirelessly to make the most of her college experience. Her athletic talent earned her a spot as a walk on to the varsity rowing team as a freshman, and she held the position all four years. On top of her athletic commitments, Catie will graduate this spring with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, along with a double minor in Spanish and Music. After graduation, she will begin her career as a nurse.
Dedication and commitment were requirements to be a part of Kennedy Catholic’s award winning drill team in the 1980’s. Patti Skoda ’87 had both. The girls on the team worked together at competition and in the classroom, encouraging each other and forming a strong community. The pressure was intense as they were always working to win the next award, but they never failed to keep the crowd’s spirits high.
That dedication and work ethic was modeled by her parents who made the commitment to send Patti and her sister to 12 years of Catholic education to provide a strong foundation for their future. After graduating from Kennedy Catholic, Patti found her passion in Human Resources. In her career, she is skilled at understanding what motivates people to do their best in their work. Part of this is exploring the uniqueness of each individual and their capabilities to understand and appreciate the diversity they bring to the organization.
She reflects on the sense of community and support at Kennedy Catholic that pushed her to work towards achieving important goals and supporting causes that matter to her. Whether this was intense drill team practices or selling chocolate bars for fundraising, she always gave it her best effort. One of those causes has turned into a team effort with her young son. Together, they sponsor a child in Honduras as part of the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos organization. NPH provides housing, schooling, and a strong community where orphaned and vulnerable children are supported and given a nurturing home. It is a worthy cause Patti is passionate about continuing to support.
Demitri Pallis ’81 is an inventor, a manager, a business owner, and community oriented. Although he started his journey after graduating from Kennedy Catholic with a broad variety of interests, he was able to focus his enthusiasm into one business that carries his name: Demitri’s.
To Demitri, a Bloody Mary isn't just a drink. It’s what he built his successful career around and what he is passionate about. His idea started with a “special sauce” to make his own job as a bartender easier, but he quickly found his formula was in demand from fellow workers and local businesses. Today, with his special recipe, Demitri has expanded his product line and found its way into businesses and homes around the country. His Bloody Mary mix has opened up other opportunities for Demitri as well. A little more than five years ago, Demitri was introduced to the Matt Talbot Center when he was making his signature drink at an event supporting the Center. The Matt Talbot Center serves the homeless, addicted and mentally ill. Dimitri has served on the Advisory Board since, continually volunteering his time.
Thinking back to his time at Kennedy Catholic, Demitri remembers starting school without knowing many people. He met new friends, many of whom he stays connected with today, and became more involved each year. He fondly recalls his time as Yell King his Senior Year with friends Charley Carmen and Frank Coluccio, and hated to run extra laps for Coach Merrill. He’s thankful for those lasting friendships. Today, along with running his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons.
As a Senior at Kennedy Catholic, Nick Beyer ’03 kept busy. He was a member of Link Crew, Senior Class Treasurer, and Editor-in-Chief of both the school yearbook and newspaper. He remembers listening to Principal Schuster prepare the students for earthquake drills (rumble, rumble, rumble), and giving the graduation speech with his friend Chris Lastimado. Thirteen years later, he hasn’t slowed down.
Kennedy Catholic gave Nick opportunities to succeed from the very beginning, starting with building and maintaining strong relationships. One of those connections, his yearbook teacher at Kennedy Catholic, Patti Williams, trusted him with high priority projects and was a great mentor to him. After getting to know his work ethic and interest in media, she helped him get an internship with a local radio station. Nick worked on the morning show, putting in over 40 hours each week. When it was finished, he left for college at Washington State University, keeping the connections made during his internship. During his Sophomore year of college, he was offered a full time position at that same radio station. The next two years were pretty crazy, Nick remembers. He finished his degree online while working full time, graduating only one semester later than planned.
Today, Nick is still working for Hubbard Radio as a Senior Account Executive, and is one of two people from the Seattle station area to be a part of Hubbard Radio’s Next Generation Leadership Program. In his spare time, he taught himself how to build a small recording studio in his house where he does freelance voiceover work.
Colonel Daniel Furber graduated from Kennedy Catholic in 1987 and, after college, he began growing his career in the military. Almost 23 years later, working through goal after goal, each one larger than the previous, he is serving as a Project Manager for Transportation Systems in the US Army. Along the way, he earned a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the Army War College and a Master’s of Business Administration from the Naval Postgraduate School.
The military isn’t just his job. Through his years of service, Colonel Furber has come to think of his soldiers as an extension of his own family, and supports them any way he can. When not spending time with his family or his soldiers, Colonel Furber can be found flying his Aviat A1B Husky airplane as a way to create peace for himself. He is also working on following his personal goal of running 20 miles per week. Taking this time for himself allows him to see any problems in a new way.
As a husband and father of two, he is consistently motivated by his desire to make them proud and he works hard to be an example of success for them. Since his time at Kennedy Catholic, Colonel Furber’s own success has grown, regardless of where he has been based, or what project he has led. Kennedy Catholic is a place that pushed him forward, and it holds wonderful memories. He recalls it being a community where he met great people who shaped his life, and was his cornerstone of success.
Janet Bland ’83 has spent her life in the classroom. Her passion for education comes across as she recalls memories from her days at Kennedy Catholic. When friends groan about their high school years, she feels a little guilty because she really enjoyed that time in her life. Janet speaks affectionately about her time as a student, seeing Kennedy Catholic as a firm place to stand and move forward. Her time as a Lancer gave her the confidence to push forward with her goals.
Coming from a family of educators, Janet was positive that would not be her path. However, after earning her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Denver, she landed at Marietta College in Marietta, OH where she taught in the English Department.
While teaching, Janet developed the creative writing program, working with freshman in the transition from high school to college. During this time, she helped teach students to articulate their positions to engage with their communities and families. “Writing allows them to craft a position and articulate their values, which they will do for their entire lives,” notes Janet.
Janet was recently promoted to her current position as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Marietta College. In this role, she has taken a step back from the classroom, but is now able to work with and support her teachers and their goals for students. Her passion for learning has been a constant throughout her life, and thinking back on her time at Kennedy Catholic, she says “Education is a toolbox you never put down and it can never be taken away from you.”
25 years ago, Greg Conner was the President of the graduating Class of 1991 at Kennedy High School (now Kennedy Catholic High School). He was featured prominently in the 25th Anniversary Jubilee Day publication. At the time, Greg was a senior preparing for graduation and accepted to attend the University of Washington. His plans were to get a business degree and become an international banker.
In that 1991 publication, Greg said, “I feel like Kennedy has given me a strong academic background. The teachers that are here seem like they want to be here. You can get a lot out of it if you put a lot into it.”
Recently, we met Greg at the Burien location of his business, Eat Local where Greg is the President and Founder. After graduation, Greg did go to UW and then the Foster School of Business for his degree. After having a successful tech start-up, he traveling for a year volunteering and serving Mother Teresa in Calcutta. He then worked in London and South America in private equity. Greg started Eat Local 8 years ago because he could only find prepared meals with preservatives, additives, fillers and too much sodium. He opened his first storefront in Queen Anne in 2007 with no idea how hard it would be to make delicious frozen food from scratch. The company survived because of their commitment, care for the customer and a kitchen team dedicated to keep trying until they got it right.
Today, he has 37 employees, 4 stores and an online store that offers same day delivery anywhere in Seattle and free delivery anywhere on the west coast. Greg samples every single batch of food before it heads to the store. He is focused on quality control and is committed to great customer service. His vision for the next five years includes continued expansion and further integration of technology throughout the business. He is lucky to have both his mom and dad helping with the business and appreciates having his main location in Burien very near where he grew up. He loves being located in Burien and speaks to other business owners about moving into the area. “Burien is like the new Ballard”, he said.
Greg looks back on his time in high school with great fondness and says he has fantastic memories. He keeps in touch with many of his classmates. When asked about his comments from the publication in 1991 he says, “I received an amazing education at Kennedy and graduated with a well-rounded foundation. It was that foundation that gave me the confidence to start a business that I am truly passionate about.”
If you want to learn more about Greg’s business Eat Local, visit their web site at www.eatlocalonline.com.
Congratulations to Lancer alumnus Michael Diaz for his very impressive recognition from the US White House. Last month, President Obama nominated him to serve on the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Michael’s nomination is currently pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Michael immigrated from Peru to Seattle when he was seven months old. Mike’s family settled in Ballard and, in middle school, moved down to the White Center/Burien area. His family spoke Spanish exclusively at home. He was the first and remains the only lawyer in his large Latino family.
After graduating from Kennedy Catholic, Mike received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, magna cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame. He then was a graduate student at Princeton University, studying classical philosophy for two years. Mike received his law degree (JD) from Cornell Law School in 2002. Following law school, Mike was an associate in the Houston office of the international law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, litigating complex commercial and white collar criminal matters. Upon returning home in 2006, Mike joined Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo, litigating the same types of cases.
Beginning in 2008, Mike has been an Assistant United States Attorney and, since 2011, also the Civil Rights Program Coordinator for the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington. He has investigated and/or prosecuted a wide variety of civil rights matters such as housing, employment and educational matters, disability and service members’ rights. Mike has been on faculty at the DOJ’s National Advocacy (Training) Center.
Since returning home in 2006, Mike has volunteered at the King County Bar Association’s Neighborhood Legal Clinic Program’s Spanish Language Legal Clinic, and is the Chair of the Spanish Clinic Subcommittee of the Program’s Advisory Committee. He is a past fellow of the Washington Initiative for Diversity’s Judicial Institute, a member of the Judicial Evaluation Committee for the Latino Bar Association of Washington, a rater for the YMCA Mock Trial High School Competition, and has volunteered in many capacities at his daughters’ elementary school, including as a soccer coach and moot court judge. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters.
Michael has many fond memories of his days at Kennedy Catholic, and we are proud to call him a “Lancer for Life”!
Alumna Phyllis Knopp recently joined us back on campus for the first time since she graduated in 1980. She gave a fascinating presentation to our Science Club on her 25+ year career as a forensic psychologist at Western State Hospital where she conducts pre-trial forensic evaluations with inmates.
After graduating a Lancer, Phyllis received a BS degree in Psychology from Seattle University and a Master’s and PhD from the California School of Professional Psychology. She enjoyed her visit to Kennedy Catholic as much as the students enjoyed meeting her. She was particularly impressed with the new third floor science labs where she made her presentation to nearly 50 students. She noted the dress code has definitely changed as she was only allowed to wear dark colored pants and jeans were strictly prohibited!
She summed it up best by saying “It’s always good to meet motivated and intelligent young people because I feel our future is in good hands!” Thank you Phyllis—you are truly a Lancer for Life!
Marty Yellam ’76 and his entire family are truly Lancers for Life. In 2015, Marty retired from his long career with a local plumbing and pipe-fitting union. Now, he’s a proud (full-time) husband, dad, grandpa and Kennedy Catholic volunteer. Marty’s wife of 34 years, Liz Santini-Yellam graduated from Kennedy Catholic in 1978.
Their children (also Lancers) are Mike ’05 and Jamie ’09 and their daughter-in-law Leticia ’04. When Marty is not playing with his beautiful granddaughters, Sophia (4), Penelope (22 months) and Catalina (3 months), he is likely on the golf course or riding his race horses. Somehow, he says, he is busier now that he’s retired than when working! Marty’s most recent project is heading up the planning committee for his upcoming 40th reunion.
His passion for all things red, white, and blue and his tireless energy, will result in a memorable reunion weekend not to be missed (Aug 26-27). When asked what he loves most about being a Lancer, he doesn’t hesitate a moment to reply that the lasting friendships that began over forty years ago are his greatest blessing from his high school days. Thank you Marty, and the entire Yellam family, for your dedication, passion and commitment to Kennedy Catholic High School.
Congratulations to our 2004 alumnus, Brandon LaVielle, who was recently named “Chef of the Year”, the most prestigious award a culinary professional can receive from The American Culinary Federation, Washington State Chefs Association Chapter. Brandon, a Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) co-owns Lavish Roots Catering in Burien and serves as executive chef. Chef of the Year is a top honor presented to an individual who has been nominated by their peers and voted by a membership ballot.
Chef LaVielle, who is also a member of the ACF Washington State Chefs Association board of directors, was presented Chef of The Year at the chapter’s President’s dinner awards ceremony recently held at the Sea-Tac Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. LaVielle is one of the youngest chefs to win the coveted award. Chef LaVielle will compete in two categories in a world sanctioned competition in Bellingham in May.
Upon graduation from Kennedy Catholic in 2004, Brandon attended the Culinary Arts Program at South Seattle College. He is most grateful for his time at Kennedy Catholic surrounded by supportive teachers and counselors who encouraged him to pursue his dream to be a professional chef. Congratulations Brandon!
Alumnus Greg Lutovsky is a true Lancer-using his business success to serve others and strengthen his faith every day. Greg owns and operates Irish Eyes Garden Seeds on his farm west of Ellensburg. Irish Eyes has a national presence selling organically grown seeds, biologically safe pesticides and garden supplies. Shortly after moving into the White House, Michelle Obama decided they needed a vegetable garden and contacted Irish Eyes to supply the seeds. The President's family wanted to raise potatoes? Irish Eyes had over 40 varieties they could pick from! Lutovsky's favorite? Yellow Finn or the German Butterball, a potato so flavorful he says that "you can eat it without butter. It's that good."
After graduating from Kennedy Catholic, Greg attended college before graduating from a fire training academy. He then learned a previous back injury meant no department would hire him. This is when his steadfast work ethic really kicked in. With hard work, tireless effort and determination, Greg planted his first seeds in Central Washington in 1996 and has grown a very successful business since. His daughters Sara and Alexa assist with the operations of the family-run farm, and Greg is sure his brand new grandson Ryle Chase Hunter will someday run the company!
Catholic his entire life, there is more to this seed farmer than seeds and potatoes. He's a successful entrepreneur, amazing father and grandfather. In a recent interview, he describes a spiritual encounter with Christ in Rome (part of a Kennedy Catholic pilgrimage, Spring, 2013), as transformational. The Scala Sancta (English: Holy Stairs), a set of 28 white marble steps located in Rome near the Lateran Basilica, is said to be the original steps Jesus took to meet Pilate. It is typical to see pilgrims ascend the steps on their knees. Not passing up a competitive challenge, so did Greg. "One third of the way up, I found the pain excruciating. At the same time, I felt something strange. I was all alone on the stairs, then everything went black. Just as sudden, there were lights so bright that I was blinded. The Holy Spirit was guiding me through my life, one stair at a time, showing where I've failed to follow the path he had sent for me. It wasn't until later that I was able to see this experience for what it was."
This encounter, unbeknownst to Greg, helped prepare him for what was to come: to experience the last few months of his father's life after a diagnoses of terminal cancer; at mass to meet and fall in love with Paige, now his fiancé; and last, to learn from a client about Growing Gardens For Life, a non-denominational international mission committed to teaching staff and children in orphanages in Mexico work ethic, self-esteem, and providing skills that will feed them a healthy diet for life. Christ is woven into every aspect of life. "Doing cool stuff with orphans to provide a future of hope and faith in a place where I'm needed----I'm in."As of this writing, Greg and Paige are in Mexico, planting trees, teaching gardening and transforming lives and souls. Greg is an inspiration; the example he sets is the result of a Catholic education that continues to shower us and others in His grace.
Martha (Delorenzo) McKenna '82 embodies the life-long Lancer commitment to faith. Since her days at Kennedy Catholic, she has been active in her parish community and serves as a faith leader and role model to many. Martha and her husband Greg are the proud parents of 7 children ranging in age from two grade schoolers attending Holy Family Auburn to three married West Point & Gonzaga graduates who are all currently serving our country in the US Army.
For over five years, Martha has led teen mission trips to Mexico and beyond through St. Vincent de Paul Parish. She has served on countless committees, chaired events and given tirelessly of her time and treasures to support Catholic schools and ministries. As an alum of Seattle University and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Martha is a passionate promoter of Steubenville Northwest, an annual life-changing Catholic conference for teens held in Spokane. This year the conference takes place July 29-31. Students travel together by bus and are housed at Gonzaga University. Martha and Greg have very graciously offered to assist any Kennedy Catholic student who would like to participate with his/her travel and conference expenses. We are humbled by their generosity and their inspiring commitment to service and faith development.
Dr. Christine (Pollinger) Tweedy is a proud Lancer who graduated from Kennedy Catholic in 1981. She then obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Washington in 1997. After graduating from dental school she continued at the University of Washington Department of Pediatric Dentistry and received her Masters in Science of Dentistry and Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 1999. She is a Certified Pediatric Dentist and currently practices at Westside Children's Dentistry in Seattle.
Christine was a passionate athlete during her high school days and she continues to be an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys cycling, skiing, hiking and running with her husband David and their two daughters. Her oldest girl, Marissa, is following in her mom's footsteps. She is a freshman at Kennedy Catholic this year and also a determined runner and successful member of the Cross Country team. Marissa qualified for State this fall and promises to go far in her running career. She and her younger sister, Erika (7th grade at Holy Rosary Seattle), are also young musicians. Marissa is playing trumpet in the Lancer Marching and Concert Bands and loving it!When asked about having her first child become a Lancer, Dr. Tweedy responds, "It is exciting to have her attend my Alma Mater and she was very excited about it as well. It is a wonderful school with great spirit and compassion."
Kennedy Catholic alumnus, Mateo Messina '90, is a Grammy winning (June, 2008) composer who writes music for film, television, and the symphony. With studios in Hollywood and Seattle, Mateo has written music for numerous critically acclaimed films with his unique style of music.
You can hear his music in everything from this fall's critically acclaimed show Casual, to his most recent film Barely Lethal starring Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba.
He volunteers in the Seattle Children's playroom writing songs with kids going through treatment. Also, since the age of 23, Mateo has written, produced, and premiered 18 symphonies. Each premiere has been a benefit concert for families at Seattle Children's. To date, he and his team have raised over $1,000,000 for these children and their families.
Mateo is an accomplished musician, a unique storyteller, a seasoned producer, a dependable man of his business, and one of today's most innovative composers. His two favorite sounds in the world are the orchestra tuning and children's laughter.
Lydia DiGiovanni Voiland graduated from Kennedy Catholic in 1985. One of her most memorable experiences at Kennedy Catholic was being a member of one of the top drill teams in the state and receiving "Superior" ratings the years the team went to state competition. This year Lydia organized and celebrated her 30 year reunion with her classmates. She did not know it at the time, however, Kennedy Catholic is where Lydia met her future husband, Steven Voiland. This year marked their 22nd wedding anniversary.
Lydia has been designing since she was old enough to hold a crayon. Her design talents range the gamut from apparel design to graphic design. So, it was no shock to her friends and family that after high school she would go on to receive a BA in Apparel Design from Western Washington University.
Since graduating from WWU Lydia has been fortunate to have many fabulous work experiences in design and marketing. Her favorite job is always the one she is currently working on. Today she balances back office/design support to Steven (Owner/Lead Financial Advisor for Links Capital Group), with her work as a freelance graphic designer (DiGiovanni Design). Currently, as a freelance designer, her most exciting project is working with Fred Hutchinson's HIV Vaccine Trials Network on a long term cure for HIV. Lydia's designs can be seen internationally on the internet, and in print in the US and Southern Africa.
Lydia is also one of fifteen select Seattle designers working with Providence Senior Housing and Community Services. This year, 2015, will be the fifth consecutive year she has been asked to design for the Providence O'Trees Gala. Last year her Seahawks themed tree, "One Hawk Open Sleigh", raised the most funds from an individual donor, and it also won the People's Choice Award. This year she has a very different theme up her sleeve to wow the gala crowd.
Lydia and Steven reside in Kent, Washington. They are proud to be Lancer Alumni, and often go back to support their nieces and nephews who currently attend Kennedy Catholic (Miller Family).A huge thank you to Lydia for her leadership this past year overseeing her 30th reunion. It was very memorable for the '85 Lancers!
James McGrath graduated from Kennedy Catholic High School in 2005. During his time at Kennedy Catholic, he competed on the Track and Field team as a competitive runner. Esquire Network and NBC team together to bring the heart-racing competition series,
American Ninja Warrior, with hosts Matt Iseman, former NFL player Akbar Gbajabiamila, and co-host Kristine Leahy. The action-packed series follows competitors as they tackle a series of challenging obstacle courses in both city qualifying and city finals rounds across the country. Those that successfully complete the finals course in their designated region move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas, where they face a stunning four-stage course modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama course in Japan. The winner takes home a grand prize of $1,000,000. Although many have come close, no competitor has yet to achieve total victory and claim the prize.
On American Ninja Warrior 6, James completed the qualifying round in the second-fastest time. In the Venice Finals, he failed the Body Prop but still finished in the Top 15, qualifying him for the Las Vegas Finals. In Vegas, he fell victim to the Silk Slider in Stage 1, an obstacle many failed that evening.James currently resides in Connecticut and is living with a group of other Ninja Warriors in what has been nicknamed the "Ninja House". He attended Our Lady of Guadalupe School before Kennedy Catholic High School and worked for a while at Full Tilt Ice Cream in White Center; now, in addition to his TV exploits, he works as a personal trainer.