Southwestnern School Foundation

For Educational Excellence







2003 - PRESENT


          The Southwestern School Foundation for Educational Excellence has had the honor to present the following  Southwestern graduates as speakers at the Foundation Dinner and Auctions:


  • 2003 - Tom Ryder - 1967 Southwestern graduate served as an Illinois State Representative for the 97th District for more than 18 years.  He then served as the Vice President for External Affairs of the Illinois Community College Board for three years.  He is now a lobbyist and attorney.
  • 2004 - Shawn Powell - 1982 Southwestern graduate served as New York Yankees Strength and Conditioning Coordinator from 1989 to 1999.  Since 1999, Shawn has worked in the front office and scouting department for the NBA New Jersey Nets.  Shawn has written several books and screenplays.
  • 2005 - Dr. Richard Lister- 1967 Southwestern graduate earned his M.D. degree in 1975, and received Board Certification of Neurological Surgery in 1983.  In 1981, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria as Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery in the Department of Neurosciences.  He was promoted to Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery in 1998. Dick was appointed Associate Dean for Strategic Planning And Development at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria in 2004.
  • 2006 - Art Welch - 1965 Southwestern graduate served as a diplomatic courier and worked with the Paris Peace Talks while in the U.S. Army. He began his broadcasting career in 1972, broadcasting as a morning and afternoon personality on KMOX and KLOU.  Art's work includes coordinating the first live talk show from Saudi Arabia as well as coordinated the International Good Will Project between the U.S. and Russia. 
  • 2007 - Don Shanks - 1968 Southwestern graduate has acted, directed and served as the stunt coordinator in numerous movie and TV productions.  His credits include movies such as Independence Day, Dumb and Dumber, China O'Brien, Revenge of the Ninja, and Pixel Perfect.  His television work includes Grizzly Adams, Walker, Texas Ranger, Touched by an Angel, Married with Children, The Hulk and the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies. 
  • 2008 - Winona Fritz - 1964 Southwestern graduate has worked in seven countries in her career.  While serving in the Army, Fritz was stationed in Vietnam, Thailand, Germany and Russia.  She worked as the Nurse Manager at the Vietnam Evacuation Hospital, providing direct acute and trauma care to approximately 160 causalities per day.  She served on Med-Evac and Med-Cap missions to villages providing trauma care to civilians.  She also earned her pilot's wings and received the Bronze Star.  Winona served as founder and President of Wellness Systems, Inc. a Washington, D.C. consulting firm working with the U.S. Government as well as many other institutions.  She has 17 years of experience working with King Hussein and the Surgeon General in Jordan, as well as Chief Nursing Officer and Director of International Operations for HCCA International in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • 2009 - Dave Price - 1972 Southwestern graduate and Captain in the U.S. Navy.  He deployed twice to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Executive Officer.  In 2005, he was assigned to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as the Navy Pharmacy Program Manager and Navy Pharmacy Specialty Leader.  He was the recipient of the American Pharmacist Association Distinguished Federal Pharmacist of the Year award in 2006. Dave served at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, the Naval Air Station in Miramar, CA, the Naval Hospital in Naples, Italy, the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes, IL, ADM Joel Boone Branch Medical Clinic in Norfolk, VA and the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA.
  • 2010 - Dr. Valerie Thaxton - 1973 Southwestern graduate and Vice President of Student, Campus, and Community Services at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, IL.  Her responsibilities include all aspects of district-wide administration, adult basic education, college activities, community education, and counseling.  Other responsibilities include financial aid, sustainability, programs and services for older persons and the college's campuses in Granite City and Red Bud, IL.  Valerie has also participated in a number of mission projects through her church.
  • 2011 - Mary Jane Buchele Johnson - 1977 Southwestern graduate has worked in financial services since 1983 and is the President and majority owner of Alltrust Financial Management in Morton, IL.  Mary Jane provides comprehensive financial services and management including investments, insurance, tax minimization, college funding, retirement planning, estate planning, and wealth distribution strategies. In 1997, Mary Jane received the Woman of Achievement Award from Peoria Women in Management, and was listed among 40 Leaders Under 40 in 1998 by Peoria Inter Business Issues Magazine. In 2005, she received the Career Achievement Award for Women in Leadership of Central Illinois.
  • 2012 - Larry Stewart - 1964 Southwestern graduate served as a Vice President with Olin Brass, having worked for Olin for 33 years in East Alton, Waterbury, Connecticut and Indianapolis, Indiana.  Larry was a charter member of the Southwestern Foundation and served on the Foundation board until 2006.
  • 2013 - Loretta Keck Gable - 1981 Southwestern graduate overcame a life-threatening illness which ended with the amputation of several of her limbs.  Loretta's strong spirit, determination and love of life has allowed her to become a inspirational speaker and book writer.
  • 2014 - Amy Garrett - 1991 Southwestern graduate  serves as an attorney with Simons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides, & Barnerd Law Firm.  Amy has a leadership role on the asbestos management team at the firm, and was part of an Illinois Supreme Court case that established precedent for people injured by second-hand asbestos exposure.  She also founded and is the coordinator for the firm's Pro Bono Program and serves on the 3rd Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee in Madison County.  As a result of her efforts, SIBA awarded the firm the John C. McAndrews Award in 2009.  The award honors members of the legal profession who have shown extraordinary commitment to providing free legal services to the poor.
  • 2015 - Angie Bray Heise - 1992 Southwestern graduate serves as Vice President, Enterprise Information Technology Solutions for Lockheed Martin Corporation.  Angela is responsible for leading Lockheed Martin's information technology business and serving Department of Defense customers in the operation and defense of their global networks.  She also manages eight major data centers, hosts 200 Air Force and Army mission applications, and provides IT support for senior leaders in the Pentagon.  Angie was recognized in Aviation Week's Top 40 under 40, and in 2013 as Federal Computing Week's Top 100 Executives.  In 2015, she was selected to attend Fortune Magazine's first annual event for the Most Powerful Women - Next Generation.