2016 Sanctae Crucis Awards

Two thousand sixteen marked the 20th anniversary of the Sanctae Crucis Awards, the highest non-degree honor bestowed by the College upon graduates who live out the distinctive mission of Holy Cross. Recognized for their professional achievements and commitments to service, faith and justice, this year’s honorees are Thomas H. Carey ’66, AnnMaura Connolly ’86, Cheryl A. Martin, Ph. D., ’84, Rev. James D. Mathews ’58 and Jonathan E. Racek ’95.

These five distinguished alumni leaders were honored at an awards ceremony and dinner in the Hogan Ballroom on Sept. 30, 2016. Earlier that day, the recipients participated in a series of campus events, including a group panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., College president, and individual seminar-style conversations, where students, faculty and staff learned about the recipients’ career paths and how their Holy Cross education serves as a foundation for their success.

HCM had the opportunity to ask these five outstanding alumni for their thoughts on winning the Sanctae Crucis Award, their advice to student and alumni and their reflections on what Holy Cross means to them.

Thomas H. Carey '66

"An exceptional businessman and advertising strategist,” “a real gentleman”…these are expressions used to describe Thomas H. Carey, whose career reflects extraordinary leadership in the advertising industry.

At Holy Cross, Tom spent time publishing The Crusader, the student-run newspaper, and the Purple Patcher, the College yearbook, before graduating with an English degree in 1966. After graduating, he attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism in 1967.

Just one week later, Tom began his remarkable career in the advertising industry as an account manager at Benton & Bowles, now known as D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). Over the next 23 years, Tom led the agency to unprecedented growth through mergers, creative innovations and major client acquisitions, including Burger King, Maxwell House and Norelco, eventually becoming international executive vice president.  

Tom continued his career serving as the president of the New York office of advertising agency BBDO Worldwide, followed by becoming co-CEO and then president of BBDO North America. He made immediate and significant impacts on BBDO, installing new management teams in the U.S. and Canada, overseeing aggressive acquisition programs and netting the corporation new high-profile clients, including AT&T, Bayer Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels.

In 2000, Tom moved on to BBDO’s parent company, Omnicom Group Inc., a strategic holding company specializing in advertising and marketing, where he served as the executive vice president before retiring. Tom led the strategic development, networking, resourcing and integration of Omnicom companies for the benefit of major clients, including Daimler Chrysler, Mars and PepsiCo.

Throughout his professional career, Tom has been a wise advisor and generous supporter of the College. He has served on the Alumni Marketing Advisory Group, helping to steer our most recent marketing and branding efforts, and as a member of the Board of Trustees, serving as vice chair of the Board and as chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee.

Tom was the founding member and chair of the New York Leadership Council, which works to promote friendships, encourage mentorships and create partnerships between Holy Cross community members in New York City. The Holy Cross network in New York would not be what it is today without Tom, and our students would have many fewer internship opportunities if not for his efforts.

Tom remains closely connected to the Medill School at Northwestern. He was awarded the Medill Hall of Achievement Award in 1997 and co-chaired the first Medill board of advisors from 1999 to 2003.

Tom has also served on the Big Agency Management Committee of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents and on the boards of the Advertising Education Foundation.

Often praised as someone you can rely on to always give intelligent advice, and who never gives anything less than his best, Tom continues to offer his skills and leadership to the many communities that have shaped his life.

For his commitment to excellence, innovation and ingenuity; for modeling leadership for Holy Cross students and alumni alike; for his willingness to use his expertise to serve the College and other communities; and for his extraordinary professional achievement, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Thomas H. Carey the Sanctae Crucis Award.

A Conversation with Tom

HCM: Congratulations on receiving the highest non-degree recognition bestowed by the College! What does it mean to you that Holy Cross has placed you in this honored category of alumni?
Carey: The Sanctae Crucis Award makes me even more proud to be a Holy Cross alum.

HCM: How did you find the September panel discussion and subsequent conversations with students, faculty and staff? What advice did you have for students who may be considering a career path similar to yours?
Carey: The best part was the interaction with students and faculty in the intimate seminars. It was refreshing to chat with students who were interested in advertising and marketing. I think some may have left even more excited about careers in those fields. I encouraged them to hone their communication skills, to work on their powers of persuasion, to be relentlessly curious and to never take themselves too seriously.

HCM: What are your reflections on the Sanctae Crucis Award ceremony and dinner? Who was able to join you for it?
Carey: The ceremony and dinner was Holy Cross at its best: classy, elegant, heartfelt and fun—particularly Frank’s [Frank Vellaccio, senior vice president] Food Channel-worthy menu soliloquy. I was pleased to have family attend, particularly my brother Jamie [James P. Carey III ’65]. They now actually think I’m a big deal (or was at some point)!

HCM: The Sanctae Crucis Award honors alumni who live the distinctive mission of Holy Cross. What does being a “man for others” mean to you?
CAREY   It means trying to conduct your life with a bias toward unselfishness and empathy.

HCM: How did your Holy Cross education contribute to your success? In your opinion, what are the benefits of a liberal arts education?
Carey: Learning how to communicate persuasively and problem solve through rigorous analysis—hallmarks of a Holy Cross liberal arts education—helped me convince clients and business partners on strategies to pursue over a lifetime in the advertising business.

HCM: The Sanctae Crucis Award recognizes alumni who have “distinguished themselves professionally.” Considering your many years in advertising, what would you regard as your greatest professional success?
Carey: As president of BBDO North America, I contributed to making strategic and staffing changes that materially improved creative and financial performance across our offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Montreal.

HCM: You are a longtime supporter of the College, serving or having served on the Alumni Marketing Advisory Group, the Board of Trustees and the Leadership Council of New York. Why do you choose to give back so generously to Holy Cross?
Carey: Charlie Millard [Charles E. F. Millard ’54] gave me my first job. I’ve been indebted to him ever since. Along the way I’ve found it’s very hard to deny Frank Vellaccio anything. Now it’s more that I have great respect and appreciation for what Phil [College President Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.] and his team are trying to do.

AnnMauraConnolly '86

From a young age, AnnMaura Connolly understood the importance of social consciousness, her grandmother’s lessons teaching her that our role on earth was not just for ourselves, but for others as well. With this as her foundation, AnnMaura continued on to become an accomplished nonprofit executive and leader devoted to strengthening and expanding opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve.

Immediately after graduating from Holy Cross with a degree in political science in 1986, AnnMaura joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working at a refugee center in Garden Grove, California.

Since then, she has used her political science training to become a leading voice advocating for the idea that a year of service should be a common expectation and common experience of every young person. She has built a career around a commitment to expanding citizen service, both as a strategy for solving critical issues and as a means to develop the next generation of leaders in the U.S. and abroad.  

Following JVC, AnnMaura returned to Washington, D.C., where she directed a national grants program at Very Special Arts, an organization dedicated to providing opportunities for people with disabilities in the arts. In 1989, she joined Youth Service America, where she organized the first National Youth Service Day and led a working group to draft recommendations that informed the design of AmeriCorps. After AmeriCorps was created, she was appointed deputy director and independent sector liaison at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the newly formed federal agency created by President Bill Clinton to oversee AmeriCorps and the other federally supported domestic national service programs. There she worked closely with the first two CEOs to build support for AmeriCorps among philanthropic and other national leaders.  

In 2000, AnnMaura joined City Year, Inc., a national youth service corps dedicated to addressing the needs of urban schools and helping students to succeed. In her 16 years with the organization, she has held the positions of chief of staff and vice president for policy and strategic initiatives.

AnnMaura currently serves as the chief strategy officer and executive vice president of City Year, directing the organization’s public policy, public affairs and international work, and also led the creation of City Year’s two international affiliates in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

While playing a major role on the leadership team of City Year, AnnMaura is also the co-founder and president of Voices for National Service, a coalition committed to expanding opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve and volunteer.

At Voices for National Service, AnnMaura has led four successful campaigns to restore and expand funding for national service and AmeriCorps in the wake of severe budget cuts and Congressional action to eliminate national service. She also played a key role in the development and passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which was signed into law within the first 100 days of President Obama’s first term.  

In 2015, AnnMaura was named to the inaugural class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, a joint initiative of the George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George W. Bush and Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Libraries.

AnnMaura also serves on the Advisory Board for the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program at Brandeis University, the Federal Advisory Council of the Presidio Institute, and on the boards of directors of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, 9/11 Day of Service, Freedom Now, City Year South Africa and City Year U.K.  

For her commitment to building a national and international movement to expand citizen service; for her leadership in supporting grassroots social justice movements around the world; for her dedication to being a woman for and with others, serving the underserved, the College of the Holy Cross presents to AnnMaura Connolly the Sanctae Crucis Award.

A Conversation with AnnMaura

HCM: How did you find the September panel discussion and subsequent conversations with students, faculty and staff?
Connolly: I loved having the opportunity to talk with students, faculty and staff both at the panel and in the smaller gathering that followed. One thing that stood out to me was the number of students that were already pursuing a year of service after graduation. Whether through City Year, or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or Teach for America, so many of the students understood the value of a service year, and saw it as an accelerator for them both personally and professionally. That made my day! And hopefully after our talk, others are now considering it too. It was very inspiring to spend time with such an impressive and thoughtful group of students.

HCM: What are your reflections on the Sanctae Crucis Award ceremony and dinner? Who was able to join you for it?
Connolly: The award ceremony was such a special evening for me. First, to be back at Holy Cross, which is a place that is so much a part of me, was special. I was happy to have my husband, William, and son, Owen, my brother, James Connolly ’84, my sister, Mary Connolly Turner ’89 P19, and my cousins—including Ann Dowd ’78—along with my best friends from Holy Cross, and my friends who flew in from around the country, together at Holy Cross.

HCM: Reflecting on your time as a student on The Hill, is there a particular class, professor or experience that has resonated with you to this day?
Connolly: There are so many experiences that shaped my time at Holy Cross, from the classes and professors who taught me that spirituality and intellectual development are intrinsically linked and mutually reinforcing, to the friends for life that I met during my time there. Two of the most important experiences were the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the meeting where I learned about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Both set me on a path for life that has been joyful and challenging and fulfilling.

HCM: What advice do you have for students or alumni who may be contemplating a career in service and/or social justice?
Connolly: I believe that we would be living in a different country and a different world if every young person were challenged and given the opportunity to do a year of national service. I believe it would connect us as Americans and as citizens of the world, and it would foster understanding, connection and love between people. It’s also a great adventure where you are stretched to get outside your comfort zone, and it helps you build skills and experiences that can help you in your career. It’s a win for those who serve, for the people they serve and for our country and the world. Every young person should do a year of service!

Cheryl A. Martin Ph.D. '84

Dr. Cheryl A. Martin’s passion for science began at an early age. Her parents’ encouragement, paired with a strong science program at her high school, led Cheryl to pursue a career in the sciences. But to call her simply a scientist would downplay the many successful directions her career has taken.

Cheryl has become a globally recognized expert in energy technology and innovation.

At Holy Cross, where she played on the soccer team and ran with both the winter and spring track teams, Cheryl earned a degree in chemistry before going on to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

While excelling in the sciences, Cheryl’s interests laid in the interface between what happens in the lab and how final products are used in the “real world.” She couldn’t help but pepper a few audited business classes into her graduate studies.

She was able to explore that interface during her 20 years at the chemicals manufacturer, Rohm and Haas Company, where she began as a senior scientist before taking on roles in marketing, investor relations and financial planning. She served as general manager of the company’s adhesives and sealants business in North America, as a corporate vice president and then as the general manager for the paint and coating materials business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where she was responsible for technology, operations, sales and marketing in the region.

She moved on to become an executive-in-residence with the venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and interim CEO of Renmatix, a start-up company focused on renewable materials.  

In 2011, Cheryl was named deputy director for commercialization of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), where she developed the Technology-to-Market program, which helps breakthrough energy technologies move successfully to the marketplace. Cheryl served as the acting director of ARPA-E from 2013 to 2014.

In 2015, Cheryl launched her consulting firm, Harwich Partners, which works with public and private sector entities to identify critical drivers that would accelerate adoption of new technologies into markets. She also assists The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in developing new business models and partnerships for New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy.

Most recently, in March of 2016, Cheryl joined the World Economic Forum as head of the Centre for Global Industries, working to ensure the further growth and development of industry partnerships to deepen private-sector engagement in public-private initiatives aimed at solving critical global challenges.

Cheryl is a non-resident fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and serves on the board of Enbala, an early-stage company focused on making the electric grid more sustainable by harnessing the power of distributed energy.

She is active in the American Chemical Society, who profiled her in their “Successful Women in Chemistry” series in 2005, and serves on the board of directors for Philabundance, the greater Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization.

For her passion and excellence in the field of science; for her work on the cutting edge of energy technology and innovation policy; for her drive to bring together the public and private sector to advance clean energy strategies and address global challenges, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Dr. Cheryl A. Martin the Sanctae Crucis Award.

A Conversation with Cheryl

HCM: Congratulations on receiving the highest non-degree recognition bestowed by the College!  What does it mean to you that Holy Cross has placed you in this distinguished category of alumni?
Martin: When I opened the envelope notifying me of my selection for the Sanctae Crucis Award, I had to read it a couple of times, as the words didn’t sink in. As I stood in my kitchen holding the letter, I was both surprised and humbled. There are so many Holy Cross alumni who have made incredible contributions to business, community and society, and I have never thought of what I do as being particularly special or noteworthy. The award is a tremendous honor, and I am very grateful to Holy Cross for the recognition.

HCM: What are some of the challenges you face in your career, and how does your Holy Cross education help you meet them?
Martin: My career has taken a number of twists and turns, moving from research to marketing to finance to venture capital to government; chemistry to energy; science to business. There have been numerous challenges along the way that have allowed me to grow and advance. I pointed out to the students in our discussions that my career was not a planned set of steps and only makes sense when I reflect back on it and connect the opportunities and skills that I developed to the opening up of new opportunities. I noted that if I had only accomplished what I envisioned when I was a student, I would not have had as much fun or even be standing there with them today. I have truly valued my Holy Cross liberal arts background, blending learning in chemistry with music, philosophy and language. I cannot emphasize enough the lifelong impact that Jesuit philosophy and teaching have had on me. I have always tried to remember, in whatever role I have had in my career, that people always come first.

HCM: What advice do you have for Holy Cross students who are considering a career in the sciences, and specifically in energy technology?
Martin: I often tell students that ‘with a background in the sciences, you can do anything,’ and I really mean it. Everything in science training, from the fundamentals of each technical discipline, to the approaches to problem solving, to working in teams, is useful as you move from school to building an interesting and impactful career. You can bridge from a science degree to the lab or law or business or education or pretty much anything you want. We have a lot of challenges facing us in the world, especially in providing energy, water and food to a growing population. We need creative solutions that embrace both the needs of people and of the planet. I think a science education from a school like Holy Cross provides the right fundamentals to make a significant difference.

Rev. James D. Mathews '58

Set against the backdrop of Syracuse’s Near West Side—one of our country’s poorest neighborhoods—Rev. James D. Mathews’ narrative tells a story of an activist and self-proclaimed radical.

He was born in Solvay, New York, a suburb of Syracuse, and went to high school at Christian Brothers Academy, where he graduated with distinction and began to discover his calling to the priesthood under the guidance of Rev. A. Robert Casey. Fr. Jim continued on to attend Holy Cross, graduating in 1958, before entering the seminary at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. He was ordained into the priesthood on Feb. 2, 1962.

Fr. Jim wasted no time in getting back to central New York state, where, for the last 54 years, he has served as a pastor at seven churches throughout the Syracuse Diocese.

He began his work in suburban parishes, but soon found himself drawn to the communities in the heart of Syracuse. In 1990, Fr. Jim was placed at St. Lucy’s Church, located in inner-city Syracuse, which turned out to be a perfect match.

With Fr. Jim at the helm, St. Lucy’s has become a parish known for its inclusivity and hospitality to all, characteristics made clear upon entering the church, where a banner proclaims “Sinners Welcome.”

On Sunday mornings, the church is loud and chaotic—the way a family might be.

Over the last 25 years, Fr. Jim has become a central figure in the neighborhood, steadfastly devoting his life to meeting the many and varying needs of his community and mobilizing his parishioners to do the same.

Visiting the homeless in the surrounding area, to bring them hot breakfast and coffee, or blankets, coats and sleeping bags during the winter months…

Providing job training, computer tutorials and ESL classes to refugees…

Offering signed masses for deaf community members…

Transporting families to the local prison to visit their loved ones…

These are only a handful of ways that Fr. Jim has opened the doors of St. Lucy’s to everyone.

“If you were voiceless and you were looking for a voice, the one I’d be looking for is Jim Mathews,” said Thomas Young, the former mayor of Syracuse.

Beyond the church doors, Fr. Jim’s investment in his community was made clear through his involvement with the Near Westside Initiative, a multi-million dollar effort to revitalize the area by teaming up neighborhood residents with Syracuse University and dozens of nonprofits, corporations and government agencies. The initiative arose from discussions at St. Lucy’s organized by Fr. Jim, and continues to be a powerful force in revitalizing the neighborhood.

Fr. Jim, who has been a member of the President’s Council at Holy Cross for 58 years, has received awards throughout his career for his dedication to peace, social justice and hospitality to the poor, including the Dorothy Day Award and the Jubilee Homes Award for outstanding dedication to the Syracuse community. He was selected as the outstanding clergy person by the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Almost 80 years old, and the recent winner of the Syracuse Senior Golf Tournament, Fr. Jim could have retired long ago to a leisurely life on the golf course; instead, he continues to stand in solidarity with his Near West Side community members.

For his commitment to living with and ministering to the poor and marginalized; for his fearlessness in demanding what is right and just; for his spirit that has enlivened a community; for his devotion to living the Gospel, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Rev. James D. Mathews the Sanctae Crucis Award.

A Conversation with Fr. Jim

HCM: What does it mean to you to receive the highest non-degree recognition bestowed by the College?
Mathews: This is an honor that was never on my radar. It is important to recognize, however, that there are many dedicated people in our Parish [St. Lucy’s Church in Syracuse, New Yok] who are deeply committed to living out the Gospel. Our parish is vibrant and spiritually alive because of their good works. I am just a player on the team. It is in this spirit that I accept this prestigious award.

HCM: How did you find the September panel discussion and subsequent conversations with students, faculty and staff?
Mathews: The panel was very patient as I shared my experience of pastoral ministry in an inner-city parish. It has been my experience that poor people are excluded from the sacraments simply because they do not measure up to the rules and regulations of the church. I experience the conflict between diocesan and canon law and the spiritual welfare of the poor on a regular basis, thus requiring pastoral discretion. One student asked if I get in trouble with the bishop because of this. The short answer is yes. But Vatican II specifically addressed situations such as this. It said, “a person must follow their conscience in order to come to God—even when there are times when it is against church law.”

HCM: You have dedicated your life to serving the poor and marginalized. In a world full of racial, economic and social injustice, what inspires you to keep working for good?
Mathews: The parish is my life—the people are my family. I am continually energized and uplifted by my ministry, and I can say I am a happy priest.

HCM: What advice do you have for Holy Cross students and alumni who are considering a career in social justice and/or a calling to religious life?
Mathews: Considering the many challenges and disappointments we face in life—some possibly today or certainly in the future and some that can be devastating, I think it is important that our youth be grounded in a living faith. The faith of which I speak is not achieved by knowing or reciting creeds or dogmas—or even going to Mass in a perfunctory manner. We should be willing to admit there are times when liturgical celebrations and homilies can be lethal. My experience for a living faith is a serious embrace of the Scriptures. This would entail studying, reflecting or sharing faith experiences with others. In addition, I believe a person must reach out to the poor—establish relationships and friendships with them, become involved in their lives, be willing to listen patiently to their stories. After 54 years of pastoral ministry, I am still learning and growing and being challenged every day to find Christ in my neighbor. 

Jonathan E. Racek '95

Whether building playgrounds in the developing world or teaching in a college classroom, Jonathan Racek’s work demonstrates creativity, innovation and community impact.

Jon’s commitment to helping others was apparent from the beginning of his days on Mount St. James, where he participated in Habitat for Humanity and Appalachian immersion programs. After graduating with a major in sociology and anthropology in 1995, he joined Teach for America.

Jon spent four years with the Los Angeles and Bay Area Corps, teaching bilingual first- and second-graders in Compton and Hayward, California, where, in addition to his work in the classroom, he organized the restoration of the school library at the elementary school.

By 2004, Jon had earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, completed a year of study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and, along with his brother, established STEW Design Workshop, a successful high-end furniture design firm.

STEW’s work was featured in publications, including The New York Times and Time magazine, and their clients included Neiman Marcus and W Hotels. In 2001, STEW received an Interior Architecture Citation by the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

In 2009, Jon shifted the focus of his professional architectural work toward community engagement and empowerment, traveling with his family to Thailand to build playgrounds along the Thai/Burmese border for refugees fleeing violence in Burma. This experience rekindled his commitment to serving others.

Upon his return in 2010, Jon launched Play360, a nonprofit company that trains local organizations throughout the developing world to build low-cost, sustainable playgrounds as a means of improving education and social engagement. Since its launch, Play360 has helped construct more than 60 playgrounds for over 12,000 children around the world, including in Peru, the Philippines, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Thailand, Haiti and Kenya.

These playgrounds aim to foster collaboration, cooperation, creativity and innovation, and provide a safe and dynamic space for children—in any community—to be challenged and explore the world on their terms.

Jon works closely with each local community, using local materials, labor and tools to build the playgrounds, and with local schools, who use the playgrounds as an extension of their classroom.

While overseeing each project in its entirety, and working on all aspects—from coordinating to building to painting—Jon still finds the time to play soccer with the local school children.

Back in the U.S., Jon uses Play360 to educate and inspire college students, bringing his perspective and experience into his classroom at Indiana University, where he serves as a senior lecturer in the School of Art and Design, teaching such courses as Design in the Developing World.

The impact of Jon’s work is felt in the communities he touches, and recognized even more broadly: In 2012, Jon was named one of “40 Under 40” in the architecture, engineering and construction industry by Building Design + Construction Magazine.

For his extensive dedication to education at every level; for his ability to recognize the needs of others and creatively utilize his gifts to address some of these needs; for his commitment to empowering community action and improving the lives of children around the world, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Jonathan Racek the Sanctae Crucis Award.

A Conversation with Jon

HCM: What does it mean to you to receive the highest non-degree recognition bestowed by the College?
Racek: I am extremely honored to have received this award. My time at Holy Cross had a profound impact on how I am as a person and my career path. There is an authentic culture of service that exists at Holy Cross that doesn’t exist at other universities and institutions I’ve been exposed to. Students are expected to participate in service and to do so in an exceptional way. And this service experience then changes the people who leave Holy Cross. This is what happened to me. My work has been shaped by the faculty, my peers and the mission of Holy Cross. I’m honored to be recognized by an institution that I respect so much.

HCM: What are your reflections on the Sanctae Crucis Award ceremony and dinner? Who was able to join you for it?
Racek: My parents and sister traveled from Boston. My brother traveled from Vermont. A good friend of mine traveled from Los Angeles to attend. My favorite moment came from Frank Vellaccio [senior vice president], and his detailed and colorful description of the evening’s menu. It had me roaring. In fact, I’m hoping to incorporate his style into my own family dinners.

HCM: The Sanctae Crucis Award honors alumni who live the distinctive mission of Holy Cross. What does being a “man for others” mean to you?
Racek: Being “a man for others” means that you think of yourself as part of the larger whole. It means actively participating as part of a community, both on the local and global scale. Thinking that my own actions have consequences for people around me and for the planet has changed how I live my day-to-day life. And I try to make this thinking happen on all scales, from the milk I choose at the market, to how I spend my career, to how I raise my children.
 
HCM: Reflecting on your time as a student on The Hill, is there a particular class, professor or experience that has resonated with you to this day?
Racek: I had a class with [religious studies] Professor Gary DeAngelis called Comparative Mysticism. He was an inspiring figure who was like Indiana Jones, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. That class made me want to travel to every country on earth; it made me curious about everything and want to experience everything.
 
HCM: What are some of the challenges you face in your career, and how does your Holy Cross education help you meet them?
Racek: I have had a circuitous career, having spent time as a teacher in the inner city, a high-end furniture designer, a professor and someone who builds playgrounds around the world. At times, I have not always known what the right path was. But the principles and values that I learned from my family, from Holy Cross and from my Holy Cross friends helped me steer through these difficult questions.    ■

—Rebecca Smith ’99 and Kimberly Staley ’99