Benedictine recognizes outstanding alumni for service, achievement

October 21, 2013

Alumni Award winners OCT2013Benedictine University recognized the winners of the 2013 Alumni Awards during Homecoming festivities on October 12.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in a career field or personal endeavor, was presented to Deborah Ariel Pagel.

Pagel, who was raised in Chicago and now lives in Cave Creek, Ariz., is an International Senior Organization Effectiveness Consultant at The Boeing Company, and a recognized leader in the field of Organization Development (OD). An organization change professional for more than 20 years, she has published several articles focusing on organizational development, human resources, culture change and nuclear energy.

Her article, "Unleashing Passion and Potential: A Rally Cry for Customer Service," was presented at the 2005 Organizational Development Network meeting and was featured in the OD Practitioner. Pagel has received a number of awards from the Organizational Development Institute, including the "Outstanding OD Project of the Year Award" in 2006.

Pagel earned a Master of Science (M.S.) in Management and Organizational Behavior at Benedictine University in 1992. She completed the National Training Laboratories Institute OD Professional Track and graduated from the Organization and Systems Development Center at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. She was recognized by Boeing with Human Resource Excellence Awards in 2011 and 2013.

Pagel grew up on the South Side of Chicago near Midway Airport and attended St. Jane de Chantal School. She studied at St. Paul High School, which has since closed, and John F. Kennedy High School at 56th and Narragansett Avenue before her family moved to Arlington, Texas, where she completed her secondary education.

"I recognize now how much I am truly part of Benedictine and how much it is also my true home," Pagel said. "I changed high schools three times. I changed colleges twice. I had no real connection until I enrolled in Benedictine and completed my studies there.

"Meeting with the students on campus when I visited recently resurrected and reinforced the feelings I had back in 1990 through 1992," she added. "Benedictine is part of my DNA."

The 2013 Alumni Service Award was presented to Dana R. Wright in recognition of service to Benedictine University with her time and talent.

Wright, a resident of the southwest suburbs, is a highly visible supporter of the University who can be seen in videos promoting the M.S. in Leadership program or speaking to students as part of the Office of University Development's "Get Connected" program. She was recognized as one of Benedictine University's "Top 40 Under 40" and Diversity MBA Magazine's "Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders" for 2013.

Wright has nearly 15 years of law enforcement experience and currently serves as the First Deputy Chief of Police for the Cook County Sheriff's office, a position which requires daily oversight of the organization's police department.

A graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., who previously served the sheriff's office as director of training and bureau chief of human resources, she has been instrumental in implementing several policies and programs designed to benefit both officers and civilians in their personal and professional development, as well as the rest of the department in its efforts to establish and maintain a productive and positive relationship with the diverse communities it serves.

Wright volunteers for the Rhea of Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering young girls and women, serves on the Associate Board of the Young Women's Leadership Charter School, and launched Wright Vision Consulting LLC in June 2013 to mentor and coach young girls and other women in their personal and professional lives.

Wright earned a Bachelor of Arts in Management in 2010 and an M.S. in Leadership from Benedictine in 2012. She is married and has two daughters.

The Benedictine Spirit Award, which is given to an alumnus who exemplifies the Benedictine values of service, hospitality and dedication in their personal and/or professional life, was presented to Brian Walker, a former Naperville resident and a 1996 graduate of Benedictine University who now lives with his family in the West Loop neightborhood of Chicago.

Walker is the Founder and CEO of AE Marketing Group, one of Chicago's fastest-growing start-ups, and an active member of the philanthropic and volunteer community. In July 2012, he was named a top fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, where he serves on the Young Associates Board.

A regular volunteer as a child life specialist at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Lurie, Walker is also a patron member of Chicago Ideas Week and participates with the Uhilic Children's Advantage Network, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Imerman Angels, a cancer support network, and Bright Pink. He also donates his time to helping low-income area schools with marketing support, including the Donald L. Morrill Math and Science School in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. 

Walker's company has supported more than a dozen community nonprofits and charities since its inception and he recently launched the AE Foundation Group, a sister organization, to manage a giving portfolio.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

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