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. 

To stay up-to-date on our plans to raise the funds to support our students and celebrate our award recipients visit gesuschool.org/2020gala, or sign up to receive Gesu email notifications.

Support Gesu's annual operations & innovative education. Learn more here.

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
Gesu Trustee 

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