Tom Peterson, Founder and President
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
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 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.
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.
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.
Business Advisory Board
J. Peter Ricketts
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.
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.
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.
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