Our alumnae connections make us stronger. Stay connected
Gertie Girls and Gators, from the Class of 1922 to last year’s graduates, this is the place to stay connected and up-to-date with Saint Gertrude High School and fellow alumni! The advancement office strives to create moments and events where our alums are able to connect with each other, with current Gators, and with their alma mater. Through these connections, it is our hope that we can strengthen the bonds within a sisterhood that spans several decades. And we hope our special events will keep you engaged and connected in meaningful and joyful ways.
There are several opportunities throughout the year in which Saint Gertrude alumnae are invited to connect with each other and the school. Look out for invitations and event information in your inbox and your mailbox, as well as events posted on the Special Events page and on social media. In addition to our two annual magazines (Labora and The Towers), we strive to keep in touch with our alumnae through regular email communication and mailers, so it is imperative that you keep your information current (LINK) in our database.
Have you changed jobs, published a book, gotten married, welcomed a child, or done something else interesting? Click here to tell us your exciting news! We'd love to include it in the next edition of The Towers.
Click here to tell us if you’ve moved, changed your email address, etc. It is important for us to keep all alumni records up-to-date to ensure you are receiving our most recent communications and updates.
In order to connect with Gators across the globe, we aim to livestream many events and athletic competitions. You can find our two livestream channels, as well as an archive of previously streamed events here.
Alumnae are vital not only to the history of Saint Gertrude, but also to our future. There are many opportunities and ways in which you can support your alma mater which you can learn about here. Thank you, in advance, for considering a gift to Saint Gertrude High School!
Shortly after graduating, Ann-Frances Lambert began her public policy career as a City Council liaison for (the now) Delegate Delores McQuinn, and later as a senior policy analyst for the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations of Richmond. Her dream of living in California sparked the opportunity for her to start her own drone business, where she provides aerial photography and videography services.
Ten years later, she returned home after the passing of her oldest brother, Ben (BCP ’85). Upon her return, she felt called back to public service to build on her late father Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert, III’s historic legacy (who was instrumental in the Innocence Project’s first success in Virginia and the first black to sit on the Senate finance committee). Ann-Frances’s father showed her how to bring communities together, and in her new role on City Council, she hopes to do just that. When she ran for office this past year, she built her platform on the slogan “Preserving History for Future Generations” with a focus specifically on the North Jackson Ward neighborhood. Ann-Frances hopes to be a bridge builder to unify all the residents of the city especially the Third District and to build on its past in order to create a new reality of peace and community. While her term has just begun, she is already making a statement with a listening tour during her first 100 days in office and by giving a voice to some tough topics and collaborating with the Richmond Police Department. Some might say public service is in her blood; others may say she simply has a heart to serve. We’d say it’s a little bit of both, but either way, Ann-Frances is set to make a difference right here in Richmond and we are excited to see her build on her family’s legacy.
Christine Cardigan-Benonis '04
Senior Director at American Forest Foundation
As a young explorer of the natural world, Christine Cadigan-Benonis found a love for the environment that would eventually pave the way for her future. During her ninth-grade environmental science class at Saint Gertrude, she noticed her textbook showcased various professional opportunities in the environmental world at the end of each chapter. A lightbulb turned on, and she realized she could take this environmental ethic she had within her and turn it into a profession that makes a difference.
Now, as one of the American Forest Foundation’s leading experts in policy and forestry, Christine helps bring together rural family forest owners and companies to address climate change. Nature-based solutions, especially forests, have the potential to provide a third of the necessary mitigation by 2030 to stay on a 1.5 degree warming pathway. The challenge in the U.S. is that most of America’s forests are owned by families and individuals, and their small parcel size means they are largely sidelined from providing meaningful solutions via carbon markets. Christine directs the Family Forest Carbon Program, an innovative new program, which gives family forest owners an opportunity to benefit from private financing in exchange for implementing sustainable forest practices that help sequester and store more carbon. This new initiative not only advances forest conservation, but it also introduces opportunities to more landowners, providing additional revenue streams they wouldn’t have otherwise realized. While we may not see the effects of her work for years to come, the good work is already inspiring others to respect all of God’s creation. Christine is driven to make the world a better place, both on her own small, family forest and beyond, for all those she works to serve, but most especially, her daughter.
Joanna Kettlewell, Ph.D. '09
Covid-19 Response Postdoctoral Fellow with the Association of Public Health Laboratories
While many of us were quarantining at home for the majority of 2020, Dr. Joanna Kettlewell was on the frontline working as part of a team within the Hawaii Department of Health to assist with COVID-19 response. As a postdoctoral fellow for the Association of Public Health Laboratories placed at Hawaii State Laboratories Division, she plays many roles. Whether testing samples in the laboratory, collaborating with epidemiologists on testing strategy, or defining laboratory protocol for sewage surveillance, Joanna has helped to implement expanded testing and control of COVID-19 across Hawaii. Adequate pandemic response requires a large team with varied expertise and skill sets and Joanna says she is honored to contribute. The aspect of her job of which she is most proud? Helping to facilitate the connection between mobile vaccine outreach and kupuna (elderly)-focused community groups in order to identify and vaccinate homebound individuals.
Additionally, she works routinely with the National Guard in the coordination of pop-up testing events to provide free COVID-19 tests to communities across the island of Oahu. She also supported the establishment of the Hawaii Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center. Joanna is grateful for the opportunity to get hands-on experience in varied aspects of pandemic response, knowing her work has helped to protect the most vulnerable.
As for next steps? Dr. Kettlewell will be pursuing a career in the Army as a microbiologist. She will be stationed at a major research or healthcare facility where she will work to support the well-being of the men and women who serve in the United States armed forces.
Kathleen Burke Barrett '65
CEO of St. Joseph’s Villa
Kathleen Burke Barrett has spent her entire career in education and philanthropy, providing compassionate help and hope to those in need. She started as a teacher at Saint Gertrude and has since served in several advancement and leadership positions at various local non-profits (including Virginia of the Arthritis Foundation and the Greater Richmond Chapter of the Red Cross to name a few). Most recently as CEO of St. Joseph’s Villa, under Kathleen’s leadership, the organization has tripled the number of families served each year, expanded to serve over 50 localities throughout Virginia, added new services, and forged partnerships that connect marginalized children and families with the resources they need to gain independence. Amidst the pandemic, St. Joseph’s Villa has even expanded into a new area: eviction prevention which has helped nearly 700 individuals in the Tri-Cities area avoid displacement from their homes.
But perhaps her biggest venture and the one in which she is most proud, St. Joseph’s unveiled the substantial $9.5M renovation of their autism center in March. There is a tsunami of students with autism coming, and the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism aims to have a ripple effect in the community by not only teaching students with autism but training professionals who serve that community.
Kathleen’s servant leadership and strategic vision has not only been a gift to The Villa, but also to the Benedictine Schools of Richmond as she has served on the boards of both schools and was instrumental during the recent unification. A proud graduate, Kathleen says she credits Saint Gertrude for helping instill in her a sense of community and the value of giving back. Whether in times of stability or in times of crisis, Kathleen continues to lead by example in her steadfast commitment to improving the lives of those around her.
Brenda Brickley '69
Saint Gertrude Teacher
While most teachers knew from the start they were destined to be in a classroom, Brenda (Bullock) Brickley’s story is a little different. After graduating from SGHS, Brenda attended Longwood College where she received her B.S. in mathematics and spent the next eight years teaching in the public school system. But with a love for math (thanks to her own Saint Gertrude teacher Ms. Ann Morano), she changed directions and set out in the world of banking and auditing. She thrived in this fast-paced environment, but after nearly ten years, she felt there was something missing from her day-to-day life.
On a whim, she contacted Sister Charlotte Lange, was immediately offered a teaching job, and the rest is history. And while Brenda seemed to just “fall into” teaching, looking back she realizes God was calling her to teach and to teach specifically at Saint Gertrude where she could be surrounded by the love of the Sisters and fully embrace her Catholic faith. Twenty-six years later and Brenda has found herself as a head moderator, math department chair, assistant principal, board of trustees member, and recipient of the Faculty Ingenuity Hearts at Work Award for her initiation of the Math Peer Tutor Program. As a true Gator at heart (before we were “Gators”), Brenda served Saint Gertrude dutifully and faithfully at every level since she first walked the halls of Stuart Avenue in 1965 as a student. And this past March, after 26 years of service, Brenda announced her retirement. Every student she taught may not remember the quadratic equation or the Pythagorean theorem, but they will remember the joy and life she brought to the classroom every day. At the end of the day, Brenda was so much more than a teacher; she was a role model, a spiritual leader, a confidant, and friend. While we will miss her cheerful spirit, we know she will be back to visit often and will be praying for her next steps as she “graduates” once again from Saint Gertrude.