JCA announces 2022 Hall of Champions: Business & Industry Alumni Inductees

JCA president/principal Dr. Jeffrey Budz is pleased to announce the 2022 Hall of Champions: Business & Industry: the Hon. Vincent Cornelius ’82, Dr. Bill Nelson ’73, Jane (McGrath ’76) Schmig, and Meg (Murer ’87) Tortorello. The Hall of Champions has become a staple in the JCA community, honoring past Angels and Hilltoppers for their accomplishments in business, industry, and athletics. 

The mission of the Hall of Champions: Business & Industry is to honor SFA, JCHS, and JCA graduates for their accomplishments throughout their professional careers ranging from medicine, law, education, entertainment, business, technology, and more. With over 23,600 alumni and counting, the lessons instilled by both the Carmelites and Franciscans over JCA’s 152-year history of Catholic education in the Joliet community has consistently cultivated leaders that have produced a world-wide impact.

JCA Director of Special Events Mrs. Christine Voss said, “this year’s honorees represent the character, integrity, passion, hard work, compassion, and wisdom that make Joliet Catholic Academy one of the premier institutions across the state and nation. We want to thank them so much for all they do to make JCA a better place. We are indebted to their leadership and kindness towards our institution. I’m so happy that we are able to honor them, and that they are able to visit with and tell their inspirational stories to our students.”

This year’s honorees will be inducted at 10:30 a.m. Mass on Friday, February 25, 2022 in the JCA Mary, Our Sister Chapel, with an 11:30 a.m. luncheon and induction ceremony to follow.

Congratulations to the 2022 Joliet Catholic Academy Hall of Champions: Business & Industry:

Hon. Vincent F. Cornelius ’82

Hon. Vincent F. Cornelius ’82 was elected to serve as a Circuit Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Will County in 2018. He serves in the felony trial division. Prior to his election, he was principal of the Law Offices of Vincent F. Cornelius for 23 years, with locations in Wheaton and Joliet. He began the practice of law in 1989 as the first African American prosecutor in the history of the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. He was an associate attorney with the Law Offices of James D. Montgomery and Associates in Chicago, IL.

Vincent was raised in Joliet, IL, attending Edna Keith Elementary School, Washington Jr. High School, and Joliet Catholic High School. He is a graduate of the University of St Francis, where he was named to the Academic All-America basketball team. He later returned to the University to serve as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is a recipient of the Joann Placher Distinguished Alumni Award and the Martin Luther King Journey Award from the University of St. Francis.

While a student at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, Vincent was a member of the Nation Mock Trial Team. He later served as a member of the College of Law’s Alumni Council and  Board of Visitors. He currently serves as the Chairman of the law school’s Board of Visitors.  He is a recipient of the distinguished Alumni Award from the NIU College of Law. 

Vincent is a founding board member of the Black Bar Association of Will County. He has served as President of the Illinois State Bar Association, Chancellor of the Academy of Illinois Lawyers, President of the Illinois Bar Foundation. He was the first African American to hold each position.  He is the only lawyer to serve in all three positions. 

Vincent resides in Naperville, IL with his wife of thirty years, Zina. They are the proud parents of two adult children. 

Dr. Bill Nelson ’73

Dr. Bill Nelson ’73 has practiced Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Green Bay, WI for over 30 years. He was a founding and managing partner of BayCare Health Systems, BayCare Clinic and Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. He has served as President of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and President of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Currently Dr. Nelson has faculty appointments in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Western Clinical Campus.

Dr. Nelson presents nationally and internationally on health care ethics, physician executive leadership, and health care education. He has authored numerous medical journal articles and book chapters. He served as Medical Director of the Northeastern Wisconsin Regional Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Surgery Consortium and on the Sports Medicine Staff of the Green Bay Packers.

Dr. Nelson has served on numerous medical foundation and charitable organization boards locally and nationally. He has provided cleft and craniofacial surgery to the underserved in Colombia and St. Lucia through the mission efforts of Health Volunteers Overseas and Saving Faces.

Bill completed his undergraduate and professional education at Creighton University, Omaha NE where he met his wife, Michelle. They have three children who have all pursued health care careers and eight grandchildren. 

Jane (McGrath ’76) Schmig

Jane McGrath Schmig graduated from St. Francis Academy in the bicentennial year of 1976. She had loads of fun outside of the classroom and also benefited from having some of the best teachers! 

Catholic education has been a hallmark of her background, beginning an elementary teaching career at St. Thomas More in Omaha (NE). This was a short stint of classroom teaching and then had a 5-year career at Creighton University, working in Residence Life, Admissions and Alumni Relations. Both of Jane’s degrees are from Creighton University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel Services. She was named the Graduate Student of the Year and this award would likely surprise many of her SFA teachers! 

Missing family and life of a big city, she returned to the area in 1987 (the Bears were on a roll!) and her career at DePaul University began soon thereafter. She joined DePaul in 1988 and has had progressive experiences and responsibilities in the nearly 34 years at the Vincentian university. Jane currently serves as the associate vice president in DePaul’s Division of Student Affairs. Serving in a in a chief-of-staff capacity, she has primary oversight of division-wide planning, staffing, assessment, budgeting and communications. She also serves as the leader of DePaul’s Career Center and the Office of Student Involvement. 

Jane’s parents, Joan (Lynch SFA ’50) and Tom believed in catholic education and all of her siblings – Mike, Tom, Kathy (husband Tom Boucher ’80), Laurie, Pat and Liz attended St. Francis Academy or Joliet Catholic High. Jane’s husband, Tim is from Wisconsin, so while not a JCA alum, he has enjoyed the friendships of many in the Joliet Catholic Academy network and is a proud father of their three JCA daughters, Annie (2012), Katie (2013) and Claire (2014). 

Jane has served on a number of boards, including Joliet Catholic Academy, Franciscan Learning Center, the Cathedral of St. Raymond and the Visitation Catholic School Scholarship Program. She received the prestigious Spirit of DePaul Award in 2011 as well as the Joliet Catholic Alumni Award in 2014. 

Meg (Murer ’87) Tortorello

Meg (Murer ’87) Tortorello traces her path to the White House back to the encouraging, faithful foundation she received at St. Francis Academy, from her family and friends, and the Joliet community. Meg was honored to serve as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. While working at the White House, Meg led the largest office and served during 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. St. Francis Academy instilled strong values and a compassionate passion for helping others in Meg and were a guiding force as she served in the George W. Bush Administration during historic times in our nation.

After living in Washington, D.C., Meg returned to her beloved hometown, Joliet. She worked for Allstate and then the Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI) as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs. During her tenure at PCI, Meg worked on the 2008 financial crisis and was named the PR News “2010 Public Affairs Professional of the Year.” Currently, Meg is the President of Tortorello Communications Company and is the Managing Director of the Insurance Careers Movement, a global insurance initiative. Meg works with clients on executive communications, strategic positioning, crisis communications, and social media strategies. She is a frequent speaker for Board meetings and conferences.

Meg began her career as a Special Education teacher in Naperville. Meg then moved to Texas and worked for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club for four seasons. Her baseball career included a playoffs run and planning Nolan Ryan’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. She served on the Executive Board of the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity and is proud that she helped create a partnership with Tri Delta and St. Jude Children’s Hospital which has raised more than $68 million to help cure children’s cancer. Meg serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of St. Francis and previously served on the Board of Directors for Magna Carta Insurance Group. Meg is a social media influencer with her sister-in-law Holly Murer with their blog, Messy Mommies in the City. Meg received a Career Achievement Award from Joliet Catholic Academy and she enjoys speaking at career events at the school.

Meg is thankful that her parents, Sergio Murer, Joliet Catholic High School (’59) and Beverly (Leber) Murer, St. Francis Academy (’61) made a Catholic education a priority for their children and is grateful for their hard work and sacrifices. Meg’s siblings Sergie Murer, Joliet Catholic High School (’82), Melissa (Murer) Corrigan, St. Francis Academy (’84), and her twin Matt Murer, Joliet Catholic High School (’87) encouraged Meg throughout her career and inspired her to dream big. Meg appreciates the endless support of her husband, Tony Tortorello, Joliet Catholic High School, (’87) and of the entire Tortorello SFA/JCHS dynasty. Meg and Tony are following in their parents’ footsteps in the belief of the powerful foundation of a Catholic education as their twin daughters, Sophia and Stella are 4th graders at Holy Family School. Meg is grateful for receiving this special honor from Joliet Catholic Academy and is thankful for all those that have helped her throughout her journey.

Past Honorees

Class of 2020

Diane (Felbinger ’62) Habiger
Jennifer M. (Kane ’82) Howard
James W. Missig ’83

Class of 2019

Mary Kay (Softcheck ’66) Blake
Geraldine R. Fehst ’66
John Manner ’63
Julie (Periu ’91) McMahon

Class of 2018

Paul Arling ’81
Robert M. Dow ’83
Sally (Nolan ’86) Giegerich
Thomas C. Kennedy ’83
Lynne Scheffler ’85

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