Our Leadership Team
Our leadership is guided by respected bishops, lay Catholic theologians and Catholic business leaders, faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Our founder and president, Tom Peterson, is well known for his years of Catholic leadership and is often invited to speak at national conferences, dioceses and ministry events. He has presented at the Vatican, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and has appeared on EWTN and FOX News numerous times.
Mr. Peterson has over 25 years of experience as an award-winning and record-setting national corporate advertising executive and entrepreneur. His prior marketing, advertising, and management experience includes: American Hospital Supply Corporation; Thomas Publishing Co., IDX Systems Corporation, Phoenix Medical Management, Peterson Sparks, Inc., and Peterson Advertising Corporation.While on a Catholic retreat in 1997, Mr. Peterson had a profound reversion experience in his Catholic faith. Soon afterward, he received a vocational calling, and eventually founded Catholics Come Home, Inc. and VirtueMedia, Inc., educational not-for-profit apostolates, dedicated to promoting Catholic evangelization and the sanctity of human life.Mr. Peterson speaks at National Catholic Conferences and pro-life events throughout the United States and internationally,and has presented at the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has also been featured in hundreds of media outlets, including EWTN (Journey Home, LIVE, Bookmark), Fox News, and on many Catholic radio stations. Mr. Peterson and the media apostolates he directs are regularly featured in Our Sunday Visitor, The National Catholic Register, Legatus Magazine, Columbia Magazine, Envoy Magazine, and in numerous other Catholic print publications, blogs, and websites.Mr. Peterson received a B.S. degree in Marketing, Summa Cum Laude, from Arizona State University (1983). He continued in the MBA program at Arizona State University‟s School of Business, (1984-1985).
Robert Trussell, Jr., Chairman of the Board
Mr. Trussell is the Founder and retired Chief Executive Officer of Tempur-Pedic International Inc. of which he is currently Vice Chairman. Tempur-Pedic was a start up company in 1992, and recently reached a billion dollar a year in worldwide sales. Mr. Trussell successfully employed advertising media and public relations to spread the Tempur–Pedic story. He took the company public in 2003, where it trades on the NYSE as “TPX”. In 2006, he retired as CEO of Tempur-Pedic to serve Christ full-time by using the media for evangelization.Mr. Trussell received his B.S. degree from Marquette University in 1974. He is also Chairman of VirtueMedia (a Catholic, pro-life media apostolate), and Chairman of 1380 Real Life Catholic Radio in Lexington, KY.
David Fischer, Secretary/Treasurer
David Fischer is president and a director of Harbison-Fischer, Inc. Founded in 1933 Harbison-Fischer is the world’s leading manufacturer of downhole sucker rod pumps and plunger lift systems for oil and gas producers. Prior to his election to president in 2005, he served as executive vice president for seven years.
Mr. Fischer received a BBA degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1989 with a major in Accountancy. He worked for Price Waterhouse in their audit department and received his CPA from the State of Texas in 1992. Mr. Fischer received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1994 with majors in Finance and Marketing.
He serves as a Trustee for Cook Children’s Health Foundation and on the Board of Directors of the Child Study Center Foundation, the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association and the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth. Memberships include American Petroleum Institute, International Petroleum Association of America, Young Presidents‘ Organization and the Fort Worth chapter of Legatus.
Theological Advisory Board
Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., was born June 29, 1944 in Lakewood, Ohio, and was raised in Western Pennsylvania, where he entered St. Fidelis Minor Seminary. At 21, he was professed into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and at 26 he was ordained a Catholic priest. After earning a master’s degree in religious education and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literature from the Catholic University of America, he taught at Catholic University and founded Centro Católico Hispano (Hispanic Catholic Center) in Washington, DC, an organization which provided educational, medical and legal help to immigrants.Since his ordination to the episcopacy on August 2, 1984, he has served as the Bishop of the dioceses of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Fall River, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida. Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Boston in July 2003. Pope Benedict XVI named him a Cardinal in 2006.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson
The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He received a master’s degree in Divinity from St. Paul Seminary in 1976 and a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1979. Ordained as an auxiliary bishop for his home archdiocese in 1984, he was then named Bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota (1994-2005) and Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan (2005-2009). Archbishop Robert J. Carlson was installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on June 10, 2009. He currently serves on numerous committees including chair of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and co-chair of the Mission Advisory Committee, Institute for Priestly Formation. Archbishop Carlson received the Interfaith Partnership Award in September, 2011. He was also honored with receiving the Joseph Cardinal Ritter Award in February, 2012 and the Sister Mary Ann Eckhoff Leadership Award in April, 2012.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted
Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, July 2, 1973. He was installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix, December 20, 2003. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix he served as Bishop of Wichita, Kansas, after being ordained Coadjutor Bishop on April 20, 1999. Before serving in Wichita, he served as the Rector / President of the Pontifical College Josephinum, a Catholic seminary in Columbus, Ohio.
For sixteen years, Bishop Olmsted lived in Rome, Italy, where he obtained a Master of Arts in Theology, a Doctorate in Canon Law, and worked more than nine years in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. During that time he resided at the Pontifical North American College and assisted seminarians with spiritual direction.
Bishop Michael Sheridan
Bishop Michael Sheridan was ordained as a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 29, 1971. On September 3, 1997, Bishop Sheridan was ordained auxiliary bishop of St. Louis by Archbishop Justin Rigali. On December 4, 2001, Bishop Sheridan was appointed coadjutor bishop of Colorado Springs. He became the bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs on January 30, 2003.
Bishop Sheridan has received several graduate degrees in theology, including a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome. In addition to serving as a parochial vicar and pastor of several parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Bishop Sheridan taught on the theological faculty of Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis from 1977 until 1987.
Currently he is a consultant to the Committee on Catholic Education, and a member of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a member of the Task Force on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Jaime Soto
Bishop Jaime Soto graduated from Saint John’s Seminary College, Camarillo, California in 1978 with a B.A. in Philosophy. He received a M.Div. from Saint John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California in 1982. Bishop Soto was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Orange, California, in June, 1982.
Bishop Soto attended Columbia University School of Social Work, New York City, from 1984 to 1986. He graduated in May, 1986, with a Master’s in Social Work (MSW).
Bishop Soto assumed the directorship of the Immigration and Citizenship Services at Catholic Charities in December, 1986. He was involved with the implementation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. He was appointed by the Most Reverend Norman F. McFarland, Bishop of Orange, as Episcopal Vicar for the Hispanic Community on March 3, 1989.
Bishop Soto was named the Titular Bishop of Segia and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, California, by his Holiness, Pope John Paul II. on March 23, 2000. His Episcopal Ordination took place on May 31, 2000, the Feast of the Visitation.
On October 11, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Soto as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento. Bishop Soto was welcomed into the diocese on November 19, 2007. While serving as Coadjutor Bishop, he served as Moderator of the Curia, Vicar for Hispanics and Other Ethnic Ministries, and represented many pastoral and civic groups.
On November 30, 2008, Bishop Soto became the head of the diocese upon the retirement of the Most Reverend Bishop William K. Weigand.
Bishop James D. Conley
Bishop James D. Conley was born March 19, 1955, in Kansas City, Missouri,. and converted to Catholicism during his junior year of college. In 1980, he entered seminary for the Diocese of Wichita. He received philosophical formation at St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky., and his theological formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland., where in 1985 he earned a master’s degree in divinity. In 1989, his bishop sent him to Rome, where he earned a licentiate in moral theology from the Accademia Alfonsiana.
On May 18, 1985, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita. After more than 10 years of service in several capacities, he was called back to Rome to serve as an official in the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. In Rome, he served as chaplain to the University of Dallas-Rome campus, and as adjunct instructor of theology for Christendom College-Rome campus. In August 2006, Bishop Conley was called back to Wichita and named pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish.
On April 10, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver and in September 2011, he was named apostolic administrator of Denver.
On September 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Conley the ninth Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Rev. Msgr. James C. Vlaun
Monsignor James C. Vlaun was ordained a priest in 1988. Throughout his priestly ministry preaching the Gospel through media and communications have been his focal point.
In January 2006, Msgr. Jim was named President and CEO of Telecare, one of the nation’s largest Catholic Diocesan television stations. For the past 25 years, Msgr. Jim has hosted “Religion and Rock”, a nationally syndicated radio show. Msgr. Jim has served as Chaplain for the New York Jets for the past 14 seasons and is also a huge fan!
He has authored two books, Life, Love, and Laughter: The Spirituality of the Consciousness Examen and Feasts of Life: Recipes from Nana’s Wooden Spoon. Msgr. Jim Vlaun is a noted national speaker and an author of numerous articles. He has taught communications and broadcasting for St. John’s University, New York Institute of Technology, in addition to teaching in the PhD program at the Seminary of Immaculate Conception. He also served as part of the faculty of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. He has been honored by many Church organizations and has made several national TV appearances.
Fr. Mitch Pacwa
Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. is a respected Jesuit Catholic priest, biblical scholar, best-selling author, and the founder and president of Ignatius Productions, a Catholic media production apostolate founded in the Great Jubilee Year 2000. He is also the popular host of “EWTN Live” and “Threshold of Hope”, on the EWTN Catholic television network.
Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. received his B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Detroit, Summa Cum Laude. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1976 with the Society of Jesus and then continued his studies, receiving his Master of Divinity and S.T.B. from the Jesuit School of Theology of Loyola University, Magna Cum Laude. At Vanderbilt University, he received his Master of Arts, Ph.D. in Old Testament.
Father Pacwa has taught at the high school, university, and seminary levels. Being a well-known biblical scholar, he has lectured at hundreds of conferences and churches around the world, and has appeared and hosted international radio and television programs.
Father Pacwa is fluent in twelve languages and has a unique understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Father’s extensive travels throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the Holy Land has inspired him to write the “Holy Land Prayer Book,” which has been published by his own apostolate, Ignatius Productions, and can be used as a prayer book guide for any pilgrim traveling to the Holy Land. Father Pacwa also has the privilege of being bi-ritual, which means he can also celebrate the Maronite Mass of the Eastern Catholic Church.
Fr. Henry Atem
Fr. Henry Atem is a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta currently serving as pastor of St. George Parish in Newnan, GA. Previous assignments included Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick’s in Norcross, GA and St. Peter Chanel, Roswell, GA. Fr. Atem attended North Georgia College & State University and the University of Georgia where he studied Accounting and Philosophy. After joining the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2003, he attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he earned his Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. Fr. Atem, a native of Cameroon, Africa, was elected to serve as the Vice President of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States (ACCCRUS) in August 2009.
Deacon Keith A. Fournier, J.D., M.T.S., Ph.D. (Cand.)
Rev. Mr. Keith A. Fournier is a Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, ordained in 1996. Though he is a Roman Catholic Deacon he also holds approbation to serve in the Melkite Greek “Byzantine” Catholic Church.
Attorney Keith A. Fournier is a member of Virginia State Bar and practiced law for thirty one years – much of that time focusing on Constitutional law. He made several appearances before the United States Supreme Court on Pro-life, Pro-Family and Religious Freedom constitutional cases. He has had a wide and varied career in public policy, law, media, associational leadership, small business leadership and the academy. He is the founder and CEO of Third Millennium, LLC, a communications company which selectively represents Catholic clients, causes, ministries and institutions whose work furthers the New Evangelization.
Deacon Keith A. Fournier is the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online the largest global Catholic Integrated Media Network. He serves as a Catholic writer for Beliefnet, an interreligious site. He serves the National Pro-Life Center in Washington, D.C. as General Counsel and the John Paul II Fellow.
Dr. Scott Hahn
Dr. Scott Hahn is an exceptionally popular speaker, author and teacher, and presents nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. Over 500 of these talks have been produced, and have been extremely effective in helping thousands of Protestants and fallen away Catholics to (re)embrace the Catholic faith.
Dr. Hahn is currently a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and is the founder and director of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. In 2005, he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
His books include: Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 1993), The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth (Doubleday: New York, 1999); A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture (Servant Publications: Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1998), and dozens of other best selling books. Dr. Hahn has also written numerous articles in lay and academic publications.
Dr. Hahn received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a triple-major in Theology, Philosophy and Economics from Grove City College, Pennsylvania, in 1979, his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1982, and his Ph.D. in Biblical Theology from Marquette University in 1995. Scott has ten years of youth and pastoral ministry experience in Protestant congregations (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kansas and Virginia) and is a former Professor of Theology at Chesapeake Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1982 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia. He entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, 1986.
Jeff Cavins is recognized nationally and internationally as a dynamic Bible teacher who can take complex theological concepts and make them practical for everyone. After twelve years as a Protestant pastor, Jeff returned to the Catholic Church under the guidance of Bishop Paul Dudley. Over the past several years, Jeff has dedicated his life to developing The Great Adventure Bible Studies, an extremely useful, practical and color coded interactive Bible study system. Jeff is founding host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock and his conversion story is found in the best-selling book, My Life on the Rock: A Rebel Returns to the Catholic Faith. He is also the author of I’m Not Being Fed! Discovering the Food That Satisfies the Soul and he is co-editor of the Amazing Grace series of books. Jeff received an MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is currently the Director of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Aurelie Hagstrom
Dr. Hagstrom is an Associate Professor of Theology at Providence College. Her academic background includes: a Sacred Theology Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology, 1991, and an S.T.L. in Dogmatic Theology, 1990, from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy, an M.A. in Biblical Studies, 1987, from Boston College, and a B.A. in Theology and Philosophy, 1985, from Providence College. Dr. Hagstrom’s research and interests include: Theology of laity in the Church and the Theological and philosophical concept of Hospitality. She served as a Board Member, The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas, Rome, Italy, 1992-2004; Committee Advisor, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on the Laity, 1997-1999, among other positions. Dr. Hagstrom received the Faculty Award for Outstanding and Commendable Achievement at the University of St. Francis, Joliet, Illinois, 1994 and 1998, and has written numerous scholarly articles and books including A Pilgrim’s Guide to Rome and the Holy Land for the Third Millennium, with Irena Vaisvilaite, Allen, Texas, Thomas More Press, 1999, and The Vocation and Mission of the Laity, San Francisco: Catholic Scholars Press, 1994.
Patrick Madrid is a life-long Catholic. He has authored or edited 16 books on Catholic themes, including Search and Rescue, Where Is That in the Bible, and the acclaimed Surprised by Truth series.
Since 1996, he has published Envoy Magazine, a quarterly journal of Catholic thought, and he also directs the Envoy Institute, which is dedicated to helping Catholics of all ages be able to explain their Faith more intelligently, defend it more charitably, and share it more effectively. Prior to launching the Envoy apostolate, Patrick worked at Catholic Answers for eight years (1988 to 1996), where he served as vice president.
Patrick hosts the Thursday edition of EWTN’s “Open Line” radio broadcast (3-5 p.m. ET), heard on approximately 185 AM & FM stations across the country, as well as on shortwave and on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 130.
Patrick earned a bachelor of science degree in business at the University of Phoenix, as well as a B.Phil. in philosophy and an M.A. in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum (Columbus, OH), and he is currently enrolled in the S.T.L. (licentiate of sacred theology) degree program at the University of Dayton’s International Marian Research Institute.
He is an adjunct professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Married for 31 years, Patrick and his wife Nancy have been blessed by the Lord with 11 children and 11 grandchildren (so far). His personal website is www.patrickmadrid.com.
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D.
Dr. Peter Kreeft is a world renowned author, speaker and philosopher. He is currently a Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, and has taught dozens of courses in Philosophy, Religion, Metaphysics, and related areas since 1962. Dr. Kreeft is perhaps best known for his 55 books including: How to Win the Culture War, Fundaments of the Faith, Does God Exist, Catholic Christianity, and countless other best sellers. Dr. Kreeft travels the world speaking about the Catholic faith, and combating the plague of moral relativism.
Matthew Kelly is an internationally acclaimed speaker and New York Times bestselling author. Over the past decade more than four million people in fifty countries have attended his talks, seminars, and retreats. Kelly’s books have been published in more than twenty languages and have appeared on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and numerous other bestseller lists. His titles include: Rediscovering Catholicism, The Rhythm of Life, Building Better Families, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, and The Dream Manager. In addition to devoting his adult life to inspiring people of all ages and from all walks of life, Kelly is also the founder and President of Floyd Consulting, a management consulting firm dedicated to helping companies and employees become the-best-version-of-themselves.
Steve Ray is a convert to the Catholic Church. He is the author of three best-selling Ignatius Press books (Crossing the Tiber, Upon this Rock, and a scripture commentary entitled: St. John’s Gospel). He is in great demand as a speaker for conferences and parishes around the world and is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live, Ave Maria Radio, Relevant Radio, EWTN and many other radio and TV programs. He is writer, producer and host of the 10-part video/DVD series “The Footprints of God: the Story of Salvation from Abraham to Augustine”, filmed entirely on location in the Holy Land and surrounding countries. Mr. Ray is a contributing writer for This Rock Magazine, Envoy Magazine, The Catholic Answer, and more.
Raymond de Souza
Raymond de Souza, is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Apologetics of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota. In the last twenty-five years, he has distinguished himself as international lay Catholic Apologist, broadcaster, Pro-Life activist and Catholic Action militant, having given over 3,000 talks on issues of Apologetics and Catholic social teaching in twenty-one countries of five continents and in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese). He is the Founder of Saint Gabriel Communications, Australia’s first outreach to promote Catholic apologetics worldwide. He has hosted three series of programs on the EWTN Global Catholic Network; he is Special Missions Coordinator for Human Life International (HLI); President of the Sacred Heart Institute and Chairman of the Sacred Heart Legion in North America. He is a Member of the Sovereign, Military and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His marriage to Theresa has been blessed with eight children. His website is www.RaymonddeSouza.com
Business Advisory Board
Pete Ricketts is the founder of Drakon, LLC, an asset management company in Omaha, Nebraska. He is also Director and President of the Platte Institute for Economic Research, Inc., a member of the TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation Board of Directors, and an Advisory Board member for the Alumni Capital Network. Mr. Ricketts is also Director and President of Education Opportunity Nebraska and Nebraskans for Fiscal Accountability.Mr. Ricketts is the former Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Ameritrade Holding Corporation, an Omaha-based brokerage industry pioneer, which recently merged with TD Waterhouse to form TD Ameritrade. He left Ameritrade in August 2005, to run for the U.S. Senate. After winning the primary race, he became the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate race in Nebraska for the 2006 election. Mr. Ricketts holds an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree.
Jack Hake is Chairman and CEO of Duke Manufacturing Co, a leader in manufacturing for the foodservice industry. Clients include Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, 7-Eleven, and others. Mr. Hake was appointed CEO in September 1997, and has been Chairman since December 1999. Prior to 1997, he served as Treasurer and Vice President of Finance, and served in leadership roles since 1982.
Mr. Hake received his undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Dayton. He received his CPA license while employed with Ernst and Ernst. He first worked in the audit group, and later managed their computer audit group. He received his Masters in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University.
Mr. Hake is a member of the AAIM St. Louis President’s Council since 1996. He currently serves on the industry trade associate Board of Directors of National Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM). and was Past President of Food Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and Past President of the Food Equipment Manufacturers Credit Association.
Art Nutter founded TAEUS International Corporation in 1992, as the world’s first engineering company dedicated exclusively to intellectual property.
Mr. Nutter’s leadership experience stems from entrepreneurial startup companies, including TAEUS International Corporation, Nutter’s Painters, and Seeds of Hope, Inc. (a handicapped children’s orphanage in Romania). He was a sales and marketing executive for Inmos, Honeywell, B.F. Goodrich, and Marconi.
Mr. Nutter has lectured and been published extensively worldwide on intellectual property management. Art is a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), World Research Group, and Pikes Peak Venture Group. Art is active in the Colorado Springs Catholic Cursillo movement, and is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from the University of Akron (Ohio), and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Phoenix.
Andreas Widmer is the co-founder of the SEVEN Fund, a non-profit run by entrepreneurs whose goal is to dramatically increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty.
Widmer is a seasoned business executive with experience in high-tech and, more recently, international business strategy consulting and economic development. During his career, Widmer has participated in the early stage of four startup companies with cumulative exits valued at more than $730 million.
He recently contributed two chapters to the book In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty and regularly writes on issues of entrepreneurship, economic development and spirituality.
Widmer served as a Pontifical Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, protecting Pope John Paul II. He holds two business degrees from Switzerland, and two degrees from the US, a B.S in International Business from Merrimack College and an MA in Ministry from St. John‟s Seminary in Boston. He speaks English, German, Italian and French, and serves on a number of international and local charitable boards. In his spare time, Widmer loves to spend time with his family and enjoys fly-fishing, skiing, and reading.
Mark Biagetti is Vice President, Strategy, for Textron Systems, a $2B+ segment of Textron Inc., leading both Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions. Mr. Biagetti resides in Providence, Rhode Island, where he is a member of Textron’s Strategy Council. Prior to joining Textron, Mr. Biagetti was Chief Operating Officer at Avocet Aircraft, a startup company designing a Very Light Jet in cooperation with Israel Aircraft Industries. Prior to Avocet, he worked at Pratt & Whitney in Strategic Planning and as an investment banker at First Equity, executing mergers and acquisitions for clients worldwide. He began his career at Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California, as a flight test engineer.
Mr. Biagetti earned a master’s degree from the Yale School of Management, and a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Notre Dame. He is also a licensed pilot with an instrument rating.
Michael Sullivan is the founder and director of HVS Capital Corp, an investment banking firm specializing in structuring acquisitions, developments and refinancing in the lodging and leisure industry. Mike has worked with the highest level Wall Street banks and international hedge funds, private equity funds, and sovereign wealth funds to creatively structure projects around the world. Mike was the former managing director at Sonnenblick-Goldman Company, a New York based real estate investment banking firm. Mike’s accomplishments include creative financing solutions for banks, property owners and hotel conglomerates involving tens of billions of dollars in resort value for many marquis properties around the globe. Mike has a bachelor’s of science degree from the Eller Business School, at the University of Arizona. He is a Steward of St Peter, a member of the Papal Foundation and was one of the founding members of the Denver chapter of Legatus. Mike is an active board member of The Augustine Institute, and, through his family foundation, is a demonstrated philanthropist in many Denver-based and international charitable endeavors. Mike is married to his wife Shari and lives in Denver. He is a member of St Vincent de Paul parish where he frequently attends daily Mass and adoration. Mike enjoys international travel and is an avid cyclist racing in many tours, stage races and granfondos domestically and abroad.
Robert J. Myers
Robert J. Myers is President and Chief Executive Officer of Casey’s General Stores, Inc. Casey’s owns and operates over 1,500 convenience stores in nine Midwestern states.
Mr. Myers graduated from Saydel High School in Des Moines, Iowa in 1965 and entered the U.S. Army in 1966, where in spent the next 22 years. His service included tours of duty in Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Kuwait. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, five meritorious medals, 3 Army Commendation medals, Joint Service Commendation medal, the Army Achievement medal, Parachutist Badge and numerous other awards and decorations.
Robert attended numerous military and civilian schools including the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Air Force Institute of Technology. He earned a B.S. degree in management from Coker College, Hartsville, S.C.
Robert and his wife Janice live in Iowa, where they are active members of their parish and Legatus.
Phillip M. Ramos, Jr.
Phillip M. Ramos, Jr. is founder and owner of Philatron Wire & Cable, one of the largest manufacturers of electrical cables in Southern California. His company has been featured in Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine, and was recognized in November 2008 by the Orange County Business Journal as the Medium Family Owned Business of the Year.
Phil is currently serving on the boards of Catholic Charities Orange County, The Loyola Institute for Spirituality, the Magis Center of Reason & Faith, and San Antonio Church Pastoral Council. He has served on the boards of Goodwill Industries – Los Angeles, Legatus – Orange County Chapter, and Providence Speech & Hearing Center. Phil is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Phil lives in Anaheim Hills with his wife of 43 years, Eloise. They have three children, Phillip III, Nicholas, Candice, and one granddaughter, Erwin. Phil serves as a Eucharistic Minister for his parish and loves praying the Rosary
Sherry Alberoni Van Meter
A veteran of the entertainment industry, she has been a child star and adult performer in television and film (most notably as an original Mouseketeer on the classic 1950s Disney TV show The Mickey Mouse Club), Sherry has in the last two decades been involved in a host of charitable work, community efforts and church activities while also holding down the title of full-time wife and mother.
Most recently Sherry has served as a Board Member of Catholic Charities of Orange County, Chairperson of The Big Breath Easy for the American Lung Association and member of the Board of Directors of The Order of Malta, a Catholic organization where she and her husband have led annual pilgrimages to Lourdes in France. She is also a sought-after guest speaker and a popular Mistress of Ceremonies at charity events.
Mr. Stephen spent most of his career in the manufacturing and distributing of fastening devices to industry, with special attention to the aircraft industry. In 2008, he sold his company and semi-retired. Mr. Stephen currently serves as Chairman of AgFast, a small agriculture business in Southern California. Over the years he has been highly involved in a number of charitable organizations including the Knights of Malta, Legatus, Magis and Michael’s Abbey Foundation. Additionally, he has served as a board member for the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center.
Lawrence J. Blanford
1984 M.B.A., Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
1977 B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
2000 Advanced Management Program, Harvard University, Cambridge MA
2007 -2012 President and Chief Executive Officer, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., Waterbury, VT (Retired)
2005 -2006 President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Group Technologies Ltd., Toronto, ON
2004 -2005 President, Strategic Value Consulting, LLC, Atlanta Georgia
2001 -2003 President and Chief Executive Officer, Philips Consumer Electronics NA, Atlanta, GA
1998 -2000 President, Maytag Appliances, Newton, IA
1989 -1997 Johns Manville, Denver, CO 1985 -1988 PPG, Industries, Pittsburgh, PA
1977 -1985 Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH
Board of Directors, Steelcase, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI
Board of Trustees, St. Michaels College, Colchester, VT
Russ Scaramella began in the business world at a young age working for Price Club in Tucson Arizona. Price Club eventually merged with Costco, which is how we know it today. He was 19 when he was sent to help open the Canadian Operations for the Price Company in Montreal in 1986.
After Price Club, Mr. Scaramella became the Chairman and CEO for Famous Sam’s, Inc. where he grew the franchise to over 40 locations in 3 states.
In 2000 Russ created a new company in Arizona that is today called US Oil Holdings LLC. It has owned and operated 100 + locations in 3 states as a BP jobber and dealer and generated over a billion dollar a year in sales.
Russ Scaramella knows that the success of a business takes being involved in the local community. No matter which state he lives in, Russ makes sure to support other small business owners in his communities as well as the schools and charities in those communities. Personally and through his companies, he has supported over 50 organizations in the form of donations, volunteering, and partnerships.
Russ and his wife Lori have 4 children.