Alumnae » Distinguished Alumnae

Distinguished Alumnae

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart is blessed to have many distinguished alumnae. We celebrate the accomplishments of these women, and others who support our Franciscan mission, through the special honors conferred at our annual Christus Super Omnia Scholarship and Awards Dinner.
Selections of award winners is very competitive and providing detailed nomination information helps greatly in the process. Nominations can be submitted using the online nomination form or by printing the form and mailing it to Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, 3860 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14226, ATT: Christus Super Omnia Awards.

Award Categories include:

Christus Super Omnia Distinguished Alumnae Award
Awarded to Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart alumnae who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or civic and community activities and exemplify the spirit and tradition of Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart.

The Franciscan Charism Award
Awarded to members of the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart's extended family who have given unselfishly of their time and talents to further the mission of Sacred Heart.

Living the Spirit Award
Awarded to individuals and or organizations of the larger community who have chosen to use their God-given talents in outstanding service to others following the tradition of St. Francis and St. Clare.

2017 Distinguished Alumnae

Elaine Pauly ‘51
Distinguished Alumna
Elaine Pauly is a trailblazer. During a time when society expected women to stay out of the workforce to raise a family, Elaine began her career at Buffalo Forge Company while earning degrees in Business Law and Technical and Business Mathematics from the University at Buffalo. She eventually sought greater challenges and joined General Electric's Semi-Conductor Product department, working her way up the ranks to be named GE’s first female Sales Engineer, calling on companies throughout the United States. Her accomplishments paved the way for future generations of women working in technical fields at GE and beyond.  She earned the respect of her colleagues, her customers, and famed GE CEO Jack Welch.
Elaine has been an active volunteer at Gerard Place in Buffalo, at her parish, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows in Elma, and a driving force behind SHA’s Sister Maria Pares Golf Tournament which underwrites our Emergency Tuition Assistance fund for girls experiencing a crisis in their family that impacts their ability to pay tuition. Elaine is a peacemaker, using her excellent communication skills and gracious good nature to bring people together for the common good. Elaine is tireless in her work and continually pushes forward toward the goal – while remaining caring and considerate of all involved. 

Ellen Mancuso Coleman ‘86
Distinguished Alumna
Ellen Mancuso Coleman has dedicated herself to promoting the health and wellness of Western New York women for over 20 years.  As the Regional Group Exercise Director for all three Buffalo Athletic Clubs for Women (BAC), Ellen creates, organizes and manages all exercise programs for club participants.  She is also a mentor and coach, holding multiple certifications in her field including AFAA Group Exercise, Spinning, Kickboxing and TRX. She earned a dual Bachelor’s Degree in both Criminal Justice and Communications from RIT in 1990.

Ellen is a strong, independent and empowering woman with a warm smile and terrific sense of humor. She coaches women to respect, accept and love themselves using exercise to develop their spirits, minds and bodies. She demonstrates her commitment to our Franciscan values by helping women be their best so they can go forward and set the world on fire. Ellen has chaired, co-chaired, created and participated in a number of community and volunteer events benefitting Hope Chest Buffalo, Women and Children’s Hospital, the Ride for Roswell and the CHC Learning Center.

Hon. Heide Herrmann ‘91
Distinguished Alumna
Heide Herrmann is an accomplished attorney and was recently named Magistrate Judge for the District of Columbia Superior Court. She presides over a high-volume courtroom within DC Superior Court's Domestic Violence unit conducting arraignments, detention hearings, plea hearings and sentencing in misdemeanor domestic violence cases. She is dedicated to the prosecution of violent crimes, concentrating on sex offenses and domestic violence. She interacts daily with child and adult victims with compassion and is respectful of the dignity of all whom enter her courtroom.

Heide demonstrates the Franciscan tradition in her commitment to serving others. She is an active volunteer with the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project representing the interests of children in high-conflict custody cases, is a volunteer advocate trainer for the DC Rape Crisis Center, and volunteer guest educator at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
She consistently demonstrates grace and hospitality towards others and is committed to helping victims of violent crimes.
2016 Distinguished Alumnae

Marilyn Wittmann ’66
Distinguished Alumna
Marilyn Wittmann '66 was appointed the first female principal of Buffalo's Bennett High School in 1984, serving 20 years before retiring from that position. After retirement, she was instrumental in keeping Bennett High School as a Buffalo Public School through the all-volunteer Bennett Redesign Team. Marilyn 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 ‘87
Distinguished Alumna
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. She has 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. Her work has been published seven times, and she has completed 20 medical presentations at the state and national level, and directed more than 25 research projects. Maureen 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 ‘97
Distinguished Alumna
Joyelle Szymanek Tedeschi, MSW '97 co-Founded the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Homeless Outreach Program in 2006 on less than $50,000. She 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. Joyelle has been instrumental in reducing the number of people living on the street by nearly half before HUD's annual 2012 Point-in-Time count. In addition, she accomplished a lifelong goal by opening a satellite Friends of the Night People soup kitchen at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Hope Center
2015 Distinguished Alumnae

Sister Mary Clement Schubert ‘48
Distinguished Alumna
Sister Mary Clement Schubert '48 has led a life of service that 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
Distinguished Alumna
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.

Throughout 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
Distinguished Alumna
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.

Use our online form to submit a nomination for the Christus Super Omnia Distinguished Alumna award, Franciscan Charism award or Living the Spirit award.