Gala & Gesu Spirit Medal
2020 Gesu Gala: Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow
The Gesu Gala is an annual fundraiser that supports Gesu School in its mission to help North Philadelphia’s children to transcend all forms of poverty through a comprehensive, innovative education. The Gesu Gala supports forward-thinking academic and extracurricular programming that empowers students to develop their strengths, overcome challenges, and become positive, engaged members of the community and the world.
Gesu has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Gala scheduled for April 30. This is a difficult decision, as the Gala is essential to raising critical funds for Gesu’s annual operations. However, in this uncertain time, and with current government restrictions, we must prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, and donors.
While the in-person event is cancelled, Gesu is moving ahead with alternate plans to raise the funds so critical to our annual operations and to honor Spirit Medalists Rosemary Español, CFM and Saint Joseph’s University. We will also recognize Imani Briscoe ’09, recipient of the inaugural James F. Higgins (’45) Distinguished Alumni Award.
Thank you to those who have committed to supporting Gesu’s 2020 Gala. We appreciate you and your continued investment in our students’ education, especially during this time of great uncertainty.
Sarah Stirzel Cuzzolina
Director of Special Events
215 763 9077
The Gesu Spirit Medal
The Gesu Spirit Medal honors individuals and organizations who have shown extraordinary commitment to Gesu School through their loyal advocacy and actions, and who have made a significant contribution to Gesu School’s success as a model inner-city elementary school.
Rosemary Español, CFM
Rosemary is the president and founder of IEI Group, an architecture and interior design firm that manages projects more than $50 million. Her expertise in design and facilities management has resulted in IEI’s ranking as a top 200 design firm by Interior Design Magazine. She has been recognized as a Philadelphia Business Journal Woman of Distinction and a recipient of the Philadelphia SmartCEO’s Brava Award and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Pinnacle Society Award. She has taught at Moore College of Art and Philadelphia University. She has served as a trustee at FDU and on advisory councils at Fulton Bank and Jefferson University. Rosemary shared her entrepreneurial skills to help Gesu achieve significant expansion in the Building for Tomorrow campaign, which added an elevator, gym, and two new floors. These spaces increased Gesu’s accessibility and student learning opportunities with a science lab, art studio, music room, advanced writing space, and after-school program facilities. Rosemary has been a dedicated trustee since 2000, leading the physical plant and technology committee and offering critical expertise and consultation for Gesu’s ongoing facilities initiatives. Her knowledge has directly impacted Gesu’s growth.
Saint Joseph's University
As Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic University, Saint Joseph’s provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. Saint Joseph’s prepares students for personal excellence, professional success, and engaged citizenship. Striving to be an inclusive and diverse community that educates and cares for the whole person, Saint Joseph’s encourages and models lifelong commitment to thinking critically, making ethical decisions, pursuing social justice, and finding God in all things. With a shared Jesuit tradition and intertwining histories, Saint Joseph’s University and Gesu School have thrived together for over a century. From 1889-1921, the university’s campus existed where Gesu now stands, and since then, Saint Joseph’s has remained a stalwart supporter of Gesu’s faculty and students. The two institutions partner via the Alliance for Catholic Education at Saint Joseph’s University (ACESJU), a volunteer teaching corps. Saint Joseph’s also provides graduate education free of charge to Gesu faculty. Numerous Gesu alumni have attended the university, many through its Ignatian College Connection and Lenfest Scholars programs, which support academically successful students from low-income backgrounds.
Thank you to our Gala Co-Chairs -- Craig & Jean Burns, Jenn & Phil Flynn, and Mike & Joyce Hagan -- and the 2020 Gala Committee for their tireless efforts on behalf of Gesu students.
Past Gesu Spirit Medal Recipients
2019 Winston J. Churchill
2018 J. Gordon Cooney, Jr., Esq.
2018 Steve Piltch, Ed.D.
2017 James F. Higgins '45
2017 H. Chase Lenfest
2016 Peter G. Gould
2016 Rev. Stephen D. Thorne
2015 Tad Decker
2015 Keith Pension
2014 Ms. Elizabeth R. Moran
2014 Rev. Neil Ver'Schneider, S.J.
2013 Rev. William J. Byron, S.J.
2013 Vivienne Lambert Ehret
2012 Robert M. McAlaine
2011 Christine S. Beck
2011 George W. Bur, S.J.
2010 John J. DiIulio, Jr., Ph.D.
2009 Aline & Al Martinelli
2009 Susan & Bill Shea
2008 Ralph Saul
2008 John J.F. “Jay” Sherrerd, posthumously
2006 Mark Solomon