The 2013 Sanctae Crucis Awards

Portrait photography by Brian Smith

One of the hallmarks of the Holy Cross experience is connection: connection to learning and scholarship, to fellow students and faculty and to the world around us. On May 3, the College had a chance to connect with five alumni who embody the best Holy Cross has to offer. In receiving the Sanctae Crucis Award, these men and women accepted the highest non-degree honor that alma mater bestows. They were selected for their outstanding professional accomplishments or extraordinary community service-and for demonstrating devotion to the Holy Cross mission.

Before the evening's dinner was served to the gathered guests, which included Trustees, Advisory Board members, families and friends, College President Rev. Philip Boroughs, S.J., introduced the honorees: Richard Connolly '61, Kara Dallman '87, Peter Deckers, M.D. '62, Mary Cahoon McGinnity '77 and Katherine Volk '00. Fr. Boroughs then acknowledged the 40th anniversary of coeducation at Holy Cross, a milestone that was celebrated throughout the academic year and will wrap up with more events in the fall. "I would like to take this opportunity to recognize women who have served Holy Cross at the very highest levels of leadership," he said, "our devoted alumnae and other leaders who serve on our Board of Trustees and our Advisory Board.

"Our accomplishments over the past four decades-and our dreams and goals for tomorrow-owe so much to these leaders who maintain a deep devotion to our mission," Fr. Boroughs continued. "We are forever in debt to these 'women for others.' "

After a prayer of grace offered by Vice President for Mission Rev. Paul Harman, S.J., Senior Vice President Frank Vellaccio, who chairs the Sanctae Crucis selection committee, gave an etched glass book-shaped award to each of the honorees. Vice President for Academics and Dean of the College Timothy Austin read the citations that celebrated the achievements of the honorees in their various vocations of medicine, public health, military service, philanthropy and education. Connolly, Dallman, Deckers, McGinnity and Volk each took a turn at the podium, sharing words of gratitude and humor.

In this special feature, HCM presents the citations that were read at the dinner, as well as the award winner's responses to a special question posed to them by HCM.  ■

To watch video interviews with the honorees and see photos from the Sanctae Crucis Dinner, please visit


Mary Cahoon McGinnity Class of 1977

HOME   Rockville, Maryland

DEGREES   BA Philosophy, College of the Holy Cross  • MS Pastoral Counseling, Iona College Graduate School

CURRENT POSITION  Executive Director, Ignatian Volunteer Corps • Baltimore, Maryland

FAMILY    Husband, Peter, and children, Matt and Katie

HCM ASKED: Please tell us about a transformative experience you had at Holy Cross.

"For spring break my senior year, about 1o of us drove to Vanceburg, Ky., one of the poorest areas in our country. We worked with migrant farmers there, and truly, I had my eyes opened to what real poverty is. I'd grown up blessed, as many of the students here did. The experience was very moving and motivated me to look into how i could give back. Rev. Bob Manning, S.J., mentioned JVC to me, and that started me on the path of my whole life of service."


Like many Holy Cross graduates before and after her, Mary Cahoon McGinnity entered the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. So began a three-decades long career devoted to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, and to setting new standards for lay leadership in the Catholic Church.

The young philosophy major stayed on after her JVC assignment in Newark, N.J., teaching at Essex Catholic High School and St. Vincent's Academy. Then followed her work as a mental health clinician for underserved populations, She developed and served as Executive Director of a parish-based nonprofit community counseling and mental health center in N.J. She continued her vocation by providing leadership in furthering the social justice outreach of the Catholic Church in faith formation, Catholic social teaching, direct service and advocacy.

As director of the Department for Service and Justice for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., McGinnity developed and oversaw the Leadership Institute for Applied Catholic Social Teaching, a collaboration between the Archdiocese and the Washington Theological Union. She forged a diocese-to-diocese partnership with the Jeremie Diocese of Haiti; was responsible for diocesan advocacy on social policy issues; and directed activities related to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Today, she has returned to where her commitment to social justice began, and is leading the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), a national organization headquartered in Baltimore with 16 regional chapters across the United States. As executive director, she helps provide women and men over the age of 50 with opportunities to serve the needs of people who are poor, to work for a more just society and to grow deeper in Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition. She has said that her work allows her to "bring all that I have learned since JVC and to give back so that others might experience the blessings that come from faith in action and in service to people in need."

McGinnity is also co-founder of Rosaria Communities, Inc., providing housing to people with intellectual disabilities, and co-founder and president of Prison Outreach Ministry Inc. We join her husband Peter and their two children in thanking God for McGinnity's gifts, and for allowing all of us to benefit from her exceptional leadership and extraordinary faith life.

Holy Cross presented Mary Cahoon McGinnity '77 the Sanctae Crucis Award for patterning her life to that of Ignatius Loyola, for proceeding in both a pilgrimage and a labor in Christ, for her ceaseless desire to bring men and women to God's reconciliation and the Spirit's love and for her committed care for the poor, the marginalized and the abandoned.   ■



Peter J. Deckers, M.D. Class of 1962

HOME    Avon, Connecticut

DEGREES   BA Mathematics, College of the Holy Cross  •  MD, Boston University School of Medicine   •   DSC, Assumption College

CURRENT POSITION   Dean emeritus of the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine

FAMILY    Wife, Barbara Ann, and children Elizabeth '87, John, Eileen, Charles '91, Peter, Michael and Susan

HCM ASKED  What is the most important lesson for students hoping to become physicians?

"Beyond the knowledge and skills, they need to learn how to communicate. When I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to be a medical assistant at St. Vincent's Hospital. The most important thing I learned was how to talk to patients and their families, and I enjoyed it. Medical students have to be comfortable dealing with people who are hurting. Sometimes we can make patients completely better, sometimes we can't, but we can always make them mentally more secure even if we can't accomplish some physical gain."

As Ignatius Loyola devoted himself to the magis-to seek always the greater-so has Dr. Peter J. Deckers shaped his life as a superb surgeon, an excellent teacher, an accomplished scholarly investigator and an acclaimed academic leader.

Highly respected for his work in breast and gastrointestinal tumor surgery, Deckers is dean emeritus of the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine and former executive vice president of the university's Health Center. During his 15-year tenure as dean, he was responsible for a major transformation at the medical school by supporting the development of a new educational curriculum; by overseeing a dramatic increase in patient care provided by John Dempsey Hospital and the UConn Medical Group; and by spearheading strong growth in public and private research awards to biomedical scientists and clinicians.

Joining the university's Health Center in 1987, he assumed the top administrative position on an interim basis in 1999 and, then, permanently in 2000. At the time, the Health Center was in a period marked by low reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers looking to rein in skyrocketing costs. Deckers was instrumental in the lobbying effort that won for the Health Center special financial assistance of $20 million from the state legislature. He then helped engineer the turnaround that achieved $74 million in cost reductions and revenue enhancements; focused resources on areas of excellence; stepped up recruitment of nationally prominent physicians and researchers; and brought more patients to the Health Center.

During his tenure, Deckers was adamant that the Health Center's special strength came from its combined mission of research, education and clinical care-helping propel the School of Dental Medicine to a No. 1 ranking, building new facilities, developing signature programs and nearly doubling research expenditures.

Deckers has published more than 150 scholarly contributions and served as president of the New England Cancer and New England Surgical societies.
A Boston University School of Medicine graduate, he garnered top awards as a student and resident and completed his fellowship training in the surgical branch of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Deckers and his wife, Barbara, are parents of seven children, two of whom-Elizabeth '87, a Connecticut physician like her father, and Charles '91-are also Holy Cross graduates. After stepping down from the dean's position in 2008, he has continued to be involved with the University's Health Center, sees patients, teaches and assists with philanthropic and outreach efforts.

Holy Cross presented the Sanctae Crucis Award to Peter J. Deckers '62 for his farsighted leadership, for his contributions to surgical oncology and to the advancement of medical education that will shape the learning and development of new generations of physicians and healers."   ■


Kara C. Dallman  Class of  1987

HOME    Fairfax, Virginia

DEGREES    BA English, College of the Holy Cross  •  MBA, San Diego State University 

CURRENT POSITION    Senior Director for Operations, United Through Reading in San Diego

FAMILY    Husband, Peter, and children Hannah and Drew

HCM ASKED   What advice would you give to a student just starting on the Hill?

"Really take advantage of every opportunity that you can while you're here at Holy Cross. I was fortunate to be able to be an athlete, I was in ROTC, I was an English major, I was a residence assistant-and all of those different interests and experiences really came together in the end to make me a better person upon graduation. There are so many opportunities here."


At Holy Cross, Kara C. Dallman '87 was a scholar (English major in the premed program) and an athlete (varsity volleyball). And she had two other career-shaping experiences as an undergraduate: Dallman received a Navy ROTC scholarship, and she was a resident assistant (RA), first in Beaven, then in Mulledy as head RA. Her experience as a student leader in residence halls, she has said, prepared her to mentor, support and positively influence hundreds of military spouses and families. That, in turn, inspired her current work helping to unite military families through a unique nonprofit called United Through Reading.

After graduation, where she was the recipient of the Rev. Joseph T. O'Callahan, S.J., Award and honored as the Distinguished Military Graduate, Dallman served as an officer and a reservist, distinguishing herself as a leader with every assignment-from undersea surveillance in Bermuda and Hawaii, to teaching in San Diego, to a posting at the NATO base in Naples, as well as Reserve assignments to Bahrain and Singapore-until her retirement as a Commander in 2008.

Juggling assignments, responsibilities and a growing family, Dallman and her husband, Peter, knew firsthand the pressures that dual-career military families face when one parent is deployed. Dallman's work with spouses and families on base increased, and she became more involved with United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization giving deployed service members the opportunity to stay connected to their children through the simple but profound act of reading a storybook aloud on DVD. After volunteering while in Yokosuka, Japan, and co-chairing the organization's Washington, D.C., advisory committee, she became a part-time liaison to the USO in 2006.

With Dallman's involvement, the number of USO host recording sites grew from 40 to 70, and participation resulted in more than 250,000 recordings. Promoted the next year to director of the military program, her team increased the total number of families benefiting by 70 percent; ushered in the largest single donation; forged a cataloging partnership with novelist James Patterson; and created a model for conducting virtual book drives and employee giving campaigns with major donors. Today, United Through Reading benefits more than 325,000 individuals annually.

Now, as the Senior Director for Operations, Dallman leads a team working directly with the Department of Defense service branches, military medical facilities serving Wounded Warriors and program partners like the USO. She also directs volunteers who provide training and support.

Holy Cross presented Kara Dallman '87 with the Sanctae Crucis Award for championing the best quality of life for United States military personnel and their families and for her distinguished service and leadership in building an innovative nonprofit organization.   ■


Next page: Dick Connolly '61 and Katherine Volk '00

Richard F. Connolly Class of 1961

HOME   Concord, Massachusetts

DEGREES    BA History, College of the Holy Cross • MBA, Babson College

CURRENT POSITION  Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Boston

FAMILY   Wife, Ann Marie '74, and sons, Richard, Ryan and Kevin '10

HCM ASKED   What would you like to say to today's Holy Cross students?

"I'd tell students what my father told me: 'When you walk into a room, or you leave a room, all you want those people in the room to say is That's Dick Connolly. He's a good guy and you can trust him. The rest just doesn't matter. Doesn't matter one iota.' You can be the smartest person, the greatest athlete, the whole deal-­If you don't have that reputation, it doesn't matter."


Chances are Mount St. James did not recognize what great gifts were in store for the world when this joyful, smart, hard-working, golf-loving son of Woburn and Malden Catholic High School arrived on The Hill in the late 1950s.

The journey began with Dick Connolly lugging golf bags as a pre-teen caddy at Woburn Country Club, a nine-hole public course in a proud blue-collar town. He entered Holy Cross with help from the Francis Ouimet Fund, founded in 1949 to provide college scholarships to young people who advanced the sport of golf in Massachusetts.

A student of history at Holy Cross, Connolly continued playing golf, forging great friendships, serving as a Big Brother, impressing all with his energy and zest for life. He went on to earn his MBA at Babson and entered the business world as a trainee at Ford.

He joined Merill Lynch in 1968, then it was on to Blythe, Eastman, Dillon in the early 1970s to run the fixed income desk. Blythe was bought by Paine Webber, which eventually was bought by UBS, where Connolly enjoyed a successful 34-year career. He was the top-producing broker at UBS for better than 20 years.

Connolly then joined Morgan Stanley, earning the firm's elite Chairman's Club recognition in only 10 months. Today, he oversees an estimated $3.7 billion in assets and is in the top 100 of Barron's annual ranking of stockbrokers. With a universe of 300,000, that puts him in the 99.96th percentile of financial advisers.

Meanwhile, Connolly has spent decades raising millions and millions of dollars for scholarships, medical research, direct service and operations at the organizations about which he cares most deeply. Connolly doesn't just write checks. He rolls up his sleeves, works the phones, leads the charge, rallies support-and gets results. With Ann Marie-his partner in life and co-chair of many a fundraising gala-Connolly has transformed the lives of countless people from all walks of life.

Because of the funds raised for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, city kids go to the Berkshires for a week to study at Tanglewood. Funds for Boston's Bridge Over Troubled Waters help high-risk runaway and homeless youth. The list of beneficiaries is vast and varied: the Joey Fund for cystic fibrosis research, Inner City Catholic Schools scholarships, the Society of Jesus, Massachusetts Affordable Housing, the Fenn School, Children's Hospital, Concord Museum, Tobey Hospital Golf Tournament, Catholic Charities, Holy Cross and so many other colleges, museums and causes. And for the past two decades, Connolly has become the Ouimet Scholarship Fund's biggest benefactor and fundraiser-providing access to college to countless students and giving back to the organization that gave him his start.

Holy Cross presented the Sanctae Crucis Award  to Richard F. Connolly '61 for his extraordinary professional achievement, for his great generosity and even greater spirit and for being a man for and with others.   ■


Katherine T. Volk  Class of 2000

HOME   Mansfield, Massachusetts

DEGREES   BA English and Peace & Conflict Studies, College of the Holy Cross  •  MA Public Policy and Child Development, Tufts University

CURRENT POSITION   Managing Director of t3 (think. teach. transform.) and Senior Associate for the Center of Social Innovation in Needham Heights, Massachusetts

FAMILY  Fiancé Matt Donnelly

HCM ASKED What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

"Go to Holy Cross! Truly. I tell people this is a world-class education. I wouldn't have traded it for the world. I'm so grateful to be a Crusader. On the day I graduated, I kissed my diploma and pointed to my parents when I walked across the stage. I was so glad they were with me the night of the Sanctae Crucis dinner, as well."


Devastation wrought by hurricanes, floods, violence, economic and other disasters arrives with ferocity and immediacy. Then, for weeks, months, even years, trauma can upend the lives of survivors-as well as the lives of first responders, counselors and others who help in the wake.

As the leader of an institute committed to improving the knowledge and skills of people working in human services, Katie Volk trains thousands around the world each year on the best practices for assisting men and women who are homeless, children who are victims of violence and anyone dealing with trauma.

Volk is managing director of t3 (think. teach. transform.) and a senior associate at the Center for Social Innovation in Needham, Mass. Prior to joining the Center, Volk spent seven years at the National Center on Family Homelessness, where she worked with communities in the post-Katrina Gulf; was lead author of a Homelessness and Traumatic Stress Training Package; and developed a physical and emotional awareness program for children living in transitional settings. She was co-author of the seminal 2010 report, "Homelessness: Minimizing the Impact, Ending the Epidemic," and played an integral role in the conceptualization, writing, design and release of the report, "America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness."

Today, in addition to writing and leading training programs at t3, she is frequently called upon to lecture and participate in symposia and conferences.

In the words of her nominator: "Katie has taken her Holy Cross education; her love of language, books and writing; and applied it to a cause and mission that is so integral to the betterment of our communities."

An English major and Peace and Conflict Studies concentrator at Holy Cross, Volk graduated with honors and membership in the Alpha Sigma Nu and Sigma Tau Delta honor societies. She was co-chair of the Student Government Association (SGA) and a leader in Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD).

Following graduation, she worked two years at Stand for Children as a membership coordinator before earning a dual master's degree in child development and urban policy at Tufts University.

Her faith life has continued to parallel her work for justice, and over the years, she has served as a CCD teacher, played an active role in her parish communities and participated in Contemplative Leaders in Action, organized by the Jesuit Collaborative in Boston.

Holy Cross presented Katherine T. Volk '00 the Sanctae Crucis Award for her radical compassion, for her fearlessness in taking on complex social problems and for her constancy in meeting people "where they are."   ■


Do you know someone who should be nominated for a Sanctae Crucis Award? Please click here to find the online nomination form.