Meet the 2023 Honorees
- MaryJo Wallo McCloskey '77
- Erika Sylvester Preuitt '85
- Mary Perry Savage '69
- Dr. Jeannie Ray-Timoney '77
MaryJo Wallo McCloskey '77
The award for Achievement in Athletics feels especially relevant, having celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IV in 2022. As an all-girls school, St. Mary’s has a long history of providing athletic opportunities for young women. We know that athletics are an integral part of our mission to educate the whole person. Athletics provide important life-skills and benefits that enhance and complement academics, teach soft skills like sportsmanship, teamwork, and resilience, all of which develop character and leadership that is applicable across all areas of life. When it came time to review nominations for this award, it was clear why MaryJo Wallo McCloskey was at the top of the list.
MaryJo is a big deal in the world of college athletics. She is a six-time NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year and an eight-time Northwest Conference Coach of the Year. In the span of her 16 seasons at George Fox University, she has turned a non-existent women’s golf program into one of the most dominant in the country with six NCAA trophies, 12 consecutive national uontop-10 finishes, and 12 straight Northwest Conference titles. Just last month, MaryJo led her team to their first-ever national title, the NCAA Division III National Championship, beating out Washington University in St. Louis winning by 5 shots. The team is just the third women's golf program west of the Mississippi and the first school in the Pacific Northwest to win the title. What an incredible accomplishment.
With such a long list of achievements, it’s clear MaryJo excels as a coach, at developing strong players and teams, and helping them go on to great success as athletes. But a great coach knows there is more to competition than wins, and awards. Just as important is the personal development that happens along the way. For MaryJo, coaching is all about the journey and helping young women find their potential. Her passion is to help student-athletes grow stronger and to realize that anything is possible with a positive mindset, strong work ethic, and a passionate desire to learn.
In addition to her coaching, MaryJo works tirelessly to further the sport of golf. She has served on numerous boards and continues to volunteer for golf organizations around Portland. A commitment to service and community is a core belief that stems from MaryJo’s time at SMA, and we know that the Portland community is better because of her passion and commitment.
Erika Sylvester Preuitt '85
The award for Achievement in Leadership honors St. Mary’s legacy of building strong women leaders. Research shows that graduates of all-girls schools exhibit higher levels of cultural competency, express strong community involvement, and exhibit increased political engagement. St. Mary’s educates girls to become global changemakers, the women we need to help solve the world’s biggest challenges. St. Mary’s is a place for trailblazers and inspires girls to imagine and explore possibilities they never considered before, which prepares them to step into leadership roles after they graduate. Erika Sylvester Preuitt ’85 is a trailblazing leader not only for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, but on a national and global scale.
Erika has served Multnomah County and the Department of Community Justice for over 20 years. Her experience has touched many facets of the department and includes working with intensive case management and the Adult Gang Unit as a Probation and Parole Officer.
Erika graduated from St. Mary’s in 1985 along with her 3 sisters: Leanne Miller ’84, Triche Sylvester ’86 and Stefany Sylvester ’88. While she was a student, she was a member of the 1982 Volleyball State Championship Team and was student body Secretary. In addition to the leadership skills she would learn at St. Mary’s, her mother, Carmen Sylvester, set a strong example in her own career. Carmen was the first African American woman hired by the Portland Police Bureau and was one of the first five women to work patrol. She served the Bureau from 1973 to 1999, and certainly provided a blueprint for the possibilities ahead for Erika and her sisters.
After graduating from St. Mary’s, Erika attended Gonzaga University where she played volleyball, earning her bachelor’s degree, and began her career in community justice. While serving as District Manager at the Department of Community Justice for Multnomah County, a role she filled for nine years, Erika provided leadership and oversight in areas related to the mentally ill, the African American Program, the Community Partners Reinvestment Program, Justice Involved Women, provided services to gang members, family services, community services, the Day Reporting Center and Londer Learning Center. She was also the Adult Services Division Director before becoming Deputy Director and then Interim Director.
Erika is also an active member of many professional groups including the American Probation and Parole Association, of which she was president from 2017-2019. She is the current Vice President of the National Association of Probation Executives, sits on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, is a current Board member of the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network Practitioners Board, and was invited to be a World Congress on Probation Japan speaker in 2017, travelling to Tokyo to speak.
It is Erika’s core value that people can change that sets her apart in this work. She is absolutely making a difference and improving communities every day. Her work exemplifies several core values of our SNJM founders – dedication to justice, service to people who are poor or marginalized, and commitment to liberating action. Erika absolutely lives these values every day in the work she does. Providing compassionate, caring service and resources to provide people with a meaningful and supportive second chance is a beautiful reflection of the teachings of the Gospels. Bringing this kind of light to work that can feel very heavy is critical, and Erika is a very bright light for Multnomah County, and certainly for St. Mary’s Academy.
Mary Perry Savage '69
When reviewing nominations for our honorees this year, the submission from the class of 1969 was a true standout showcasing an alumna who embodies all those qualities. In their nomination of Mary Perry Savage the class of 1969 said “We are so grateful that Mary Perry Savage took God’s command of service to her fellow man as her personal directive and lifetime goal. Mary has always been intuitive, decisive, determined, and considerate as she progressed to a position of leadership.”
It has become increasingly rare to find someone who has dedicated their career so thoroughly to one organization. Mary recently retired after 48 years at Providence, which is an incredible testament to her faith, her courage, and her deep connection to service. It is why she is so perfect a recipient for the award for Extraordinary Career Achievement.
Mary, like all our honorees this year is a legacy alumna. She and her three sisters, Ellen Christensen ’73, Karen Tarnasky ’70, and Noreen Alexander ’75, who is sadly no longer with us, along with her cousin, beloved faculty member Moe Daschel ’77, and her niece, Mallory Christensen ’02 are all alumnae. It is clear that the relationships Mary created as a student at St. Mary’s have remained strong since her graduation in 1969.
After graduating from St. Mary’s, Mary went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Concordia University, and while working full-time earned a master’s degree from Portland State University.
When Mary began her career with Providence, there was no such thing as a CT scanner, there was no MRI, no PET Scanners, “we barely used ultrasound, and mammography was rarely done,” Mary has said of those early days.
A leader in her field, Mary was charged with the responsibility of researching and purchasing new and more advanced equipment, building the Diagnostic and Imaging department to what it is today, in 8 hospitals and 5 imaging centers in Oregon. Mary’s leadership was not only in the development of the department, but the development of staff as well.
Mary is always thinking of others, and how she can be of service. Classmates shared the comfort they found when Mary would go out of her way to check on them, to make sure they were getting in for tests and appointments, She would follow up on care provided to a family member who was in another department at the hospital, and she personally welcomed the daughter of her classmate, Adriana, when she began her Residency at Providence. Adriana said, “Mary had an honest interest in making a young doctor feel she was in the right place for her future.”
In speaking with people about their experiences working with Mary, over and over again they spoke of her kindness, the small gestures that spoke volumes. Mary’s former colleague, Judy Fitch, shared with that when her brother was undergoing cancer treatment at Providence, Mary would bring him chocolate chip cookies every single time. If you’ve ever had a loved one go through a difficult medical treatment or procedure, you know how meaningful those little moments of care and thoughtfulness are.
Mary has expressed deep gratitude for her career with Providence, saying “Choosing to spend my career at Providence has been the most special gift I have ever received. The healthcare system gave me many opportunities to use my Catholic education and faith to love and support our patients, physicians, and staff.”
In her work at Providence a partnership with Portland Community College was developed to train Radiological Technicians. Through this work, Mary became a foundation board member at PCC for several years, and in 2011 when PCC celebrated its 50th anniversary as a college, Mary was chosen as one of the top 50 graduates.
As some in our SMA community know, Mike, Mary’s husband of 41 years recently passed away. The past two years, Mike was confined to home. Mary is grateful for the time they had together, for all the love and support they received from the church, from family, and friends. I was deeply honored to be able to share the news of this award with Mary not long after Mike’s passing. I know after great loss, a reminder that those who love you continue to hold you in their prayers can make a world of difference. Mary certainly understands that as she herself has provided this kindness to so many.
Her classmate Adriana said it best that when many of their classmates found themselves at Providence in need of information or comfort, or just simple kindness, “Mary is an example of God knowing just how to put the right person in our path at the most critical time. Whether she meets you in a hallway at a dark and teary moment or takes your call to answer questions about a diagnosis, Mary shows us her service to mankind is her business, her calling, and her heart.”
Dr. Jeannie Ray-Timoney '77
St. Mary's Academy was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1859. Twelve tenacious, brave, and faith filled women said yes to an arduous journey, from Quebec, Canada to Portland, Oregon. Only two of the Sisters spoke English, and within days of their arrival the Sisters opened St. Mary's Academy. Without these women, St. Mary's and Catholic education as we know it in Portland would not exist today. An alumna who very clearly understands this is Dr. Jeannie Ray-Timoney, Class of 1977.
Jeannie is the first woman and lay person to be named Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Portland. In this role, she is at the forefront of Catholic education in Portland. She researches best practices, updates the curriculum, was essential in helping schools navigate a pandemic, all through a Christ centered vision. She is passionate about improving Catholic schools, and ensuring and expanding access to the Church and Catholic schools for as many people as she can.
Jeannie's family has a long history with SMA - her mother, her sister, three of her daughters, and her two nieces are all alumnae. While at St. Mary's, Jeannie played both basketball and volleyball, and was a member of the 1976 State Championship volleyball team, St. Mary's first ever state championship team. Like her classmate, and fellow honoree, MaryJo, Jeannie was hugely impacted by the passage of Title IV, and the expanded opportunities it provided for women in athletics.
After graduating in 1977, she earned a basketball and volleyball scholarship to the University of San Francisco, and met her husband, Mark, while volunteering for St. Monica, a Catholic school in the city. Jeannie has truly been involved with Catholic schools her entire life.
Jeannie first went back to school for her master's degree while her youngest daughter, Maura, SMA class of 2009 and our current Director of Retreats and Campus Ministry, was in preschool. Maura remembers taking the bus to Concordia with her mom, and talked about the impact that modeled behavior had on her and the inspiration it has provided. Each one of her children talked about how proud they are of Jeannie's passion for education, her deeply rooted faith, and the sacrifices they watched both parents make to ensure they all received Catholic educations.
Her son Vince said, "my mom is quite simply an impressive person. She is the smartest person in the family, the most athletic, the most driven." feelings echoed by her husband, Mark, who described Jeannie as the CEO of the family - and "a remarkable individual, an amazing woman, a great role model."
Jeannie has certainly passed along a love of education and passion for her faith to her grandchildren, all 15 of whom are currently enrolled in Catholic schools.
Before becoming Superintendent, Jeannie taught elementary and middle school at both St. John Fisher, and St. Matthew. She went on to serve as Principal at St. Matthew, and while raising five children, and teaching, and acting as an administrator, she went back to school once more to complete a Ph.D. Jeannie chose the program at USF and made an impression among not only her fellow students, but the faculty as well. Her doctoral mentor, Dr. Doreen Jones described her as "the most incredible student I have ever worked with."
Dr. Doreen went on to say, "Christ, when he walked on the earth spoke with authority because he fully understood his mission, and I think Jeannie is doing the same thing." Her mission is Catholic education. She is clear about who she is, what she's working toward accomplishing, and she does it with compassion, and authenticity.
When speaking to Jeannie's family, and mentor, it was crystal clear that she is special. It cannot be understated the impact she has had in the Catholic community, starting with her own family. Her daughters Nora, Maureen, and Maura spoke fondly of their time with her at St. John Fisher while their Jeannie was teaching there, alongside each of them as students. They all described the experience as truly special, where the school felt like a second home. Nora said, "She really made Catholic school feel like the biggest part of our lives."
Jeannie now gets to do the same on a much larger scale. The Archdiocese and the city of Portland are better for it.