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 can 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 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!
If you need a copy of your Saint Gertrude transcript, please email SGHS Registrar Lisa Marks or call 804.708.9529.
Carol Bagley Amon '64
U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York
After graduation from law school (in 1971), Carol Bagley Amon ’64 accepted positions as a staff attorney, trial attorney, and assistant U.S. attorney before ascending to her current position of United States District Judge. In 1983 as an AUSA, she had the opportunity to serve as the lead prosecutor on a large, high-profile federal criminal trial involving the export of arms and explosives to Ireland for the Irish Republican Army. In her opinion, this was a turning point in her career as a prosecutor. As a result of this prosecution, Judge Amon was awarded the Department of Justice’s John Marshall Award, the department’s highest award, recognizing excellence in legal performance. On August 7, 1990, upon nomination by George H.W. Bush, Judge Amon was sworn in as the U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. She was promoted to Chief Judge in April 2011, serving in that position until April 2016. She will celebrate 33 years of service to the district later this year. Hard work pays off, thoroughness is critical, and never sacrifice a careful analysis of the task at hand to the goal of expedience are a few lessons Judge Amon has learned throughout her career. The biggest challenge though is trying to stay current with her numerous civil and criminal cases but credits her success to maintaining a tight schedule and employing three invaluable law clerks. Judge Amon remains inspired and motivated by the enthusiasm and dedication of her law clerks who work for her for one-year terms.
The legacy of Judge Amon is deeply rooted in public service, a commitment to the district court and its constituents, and a remarkable commitment to excellence. It is her hope that the District Court will continue to develop as an institution in the future. While at Saint Gertrude, Judge Amon credits being president of both the sophomore class and the honor society as critical leadership opportunities that aided to her success. While a Gertie, she learned the value of hard work by aspiring to be valedictorian and the importance of religion in one’s life. Judge Amon and her husband, Tom, met while in law school and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary later this year. Together they have three sons and six grandchildren.
Ann Marie (Caraker) Hancock ’64
using her voice and faith to make the world a better place
If being an award-winning journalist wasn’t enough, Ann Marie Caraker Hancock ’64 is also a famed radio and television hostess, having interviewed the Dalai Lama, Ava Gabor, Alan Alda, and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, to mention a few. Her illustrious career began during her college years when she became the first woman reporter at WRVA. She earned a reputation as a hard-nosed interviewer covering the capital. She insists on tough questions, hard facts, and credible sources. Hancock’s toughest challenge is speaking the truth when it offends. She has been published in USA Today and has written three books. You Can’t Drive Your Car to Your Own Funeral went to the Amazon Best Seller’s list in five categories. She currently writes for The Recorder, the oldest, continuously published newspaper of any size in the Commonwealth. Hancock credits Saint Gertrude for providing her with an academic and spiritual foundation that propelled her forward. In fact, Saint Gertrude provided her the opportunity to be the only woman invited to speak at The First Papal Conference in America.
Hancock is married to Tom ’63 who she calls the light of her life. Fun Fact: Tom was battalion commander of Benedictine’s Corps of Cadets while she was S.G.A. president at Saint Gertrude. The two, however, are no strangers to challenge. Their first daughter, Cori, suffers with multiple sclerosis, and they lost their second daughter, Stacy, to a lung disease. Hancock, herself, is a recent breast cancer survivor. Their other two children, Faith and Chip, complete the immediate family, along with their three children’s spouses and their five grandchildren. Hancock believes we all have free will to choose good and to choose God…to be lights in the world. With her family by her side, together they are powering through with faith and confidence and she continues to use her voice to make the world a better place. To learn more, visit authorannmariehancock.com.
Shelia Gervasoni '73
dedicated to the diocese
For the longest time, Sheila Gervasoni ’73 really thought she would one day be a nurse. During middle and high school years she worked as a volunteer at the old Johnston Willis Hospital and did a lot of babysitting. She then realized that she loved being with kids, especially reading to them and helping them learn new things. Gervasoni also realized that being part of a community was important for her faith formation and growth. It was then that Gervasoni changed her major to education and dedicated her life to teaching within the diocese. She wanted to express and live out her faith by teaching in a Catholic School because of her own experiences at Saint Benedict and Saint Gertrude. And after thirty-three years of service to the Diocese of Richmond, Gervasoni has retired from full-time teaching (but still allocates time to substitute teach at SGHS). When asked about her tenure of teaching, she recognized what a privilege it has been to teach so many Gerties and to watch them learn and grow over the years. She remarked on the immeasurable joy she continues to feel to this day when she sees her students grow up and hears of all their amazing accomplishments.
As a Gertie, Gervasoni was encouraged to be true to herself and found good role models in several of the teachers and the Sisters. They recognized qualities in her she didn’t know she had and challenged her to step out of her comfort zone. As an educator, she aimed to do the same, to love and accept all her students and to provide a model of Catholic leadership. According to Gervasoni, teaching is a bundle of memorable moments all rolled into one big, happy feeling. And for those of us who have walked alongside Gervasoni throughout her time at Saint Gertrude, we can attest that she’s the one that gives us that big, happy feeling.
Shuwanza Rebecca Goff '02
floor director of legislative operations
Shuwanza Rebecca Goff ’02 became interested in politics at a young age as it was regularly discussed at the family’s dinner table. Her parents would allow Goff and her sister to pull the voting machine lever on Election Day to vote. When David Dinkins lost to Rudy Giuliani in New York City’s 1993 mayoral race, 9-year- old Goff wrote a letter expressing her disappointment over the results. From that moment, her interest in politics grew. Goff earned her bachelor’s degree in political science in 2006, received her M.A. in justice, law, and society in 2008, and then embarked on a journey of public service. She began her career working in the front office for then House Majority Leader, Steny H. Hoyer. Over the years, Goff worked her way up becoming floor director of legislative operations in January 2019, making her the first African American woman to hold such a position. In this role, she aided negotiations with Congressional leaders and coordinated outreach with the Senate and White House to advance legislation. After over 12 years of working on Capitol Hill, Goff moved to become deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of White House legislative affairs for the Biden-Harris Administration. In this role, she advanced White House initiatives on issues including infrastructure, postal reform, gun violence, CHIPS/Semiconductors, and two major reconciliation packages. Goff is motivated and inspired by the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of everyday Americans. One of Goff’s most challenging moments was navigating Congress during a pandemic. Without any precedents to follow, Goff and her team were tasked with ensuring the House of Representatives could meet in a safe way and conduct the necessary business on behalf of the American people. Goff has learned over the course of her career that patience, trust in the process, and perseverance tend to lead to positive outcomes.
While at Saint Gertrude, Goff felt empowered from the minute she attended the school. She was inspired by the school’s traditions, commitment to service, and preparation for college. Goff believes SGHS laid a solid foundation of leadership for her and credits the all-girl environment for helping foster and instill the importance of being a strong, confident leader. After nearly 15 years in government, Goff has transitioned to the private sector where she will apply her experience from the White House and Capitol Hill to help Cornerstone Government Affairs, a full-service, bipartisan consulting firm, achieve its goals on behalf of their clients with creativity and integrity.
Harrison Talton '14
bsor’s director of alumni
As a transfer, Harrison Talton ’14 faced some challenges during her transition to Saint Gertrude, including adapting to the much more rigorous classes and establishing new friendships. However, she quickly felt right at home in the Class of Red and White where she continues to enjoy the everlasting bond of the SGHS sisterhood. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2018 with a degree in biological sciences, Talton began her career as an Associate Scientist specializing in research and development in the pulp and paper industry. One important lesson she has learned during her brief corporate career is to always advocate for yourself. Talton was recently named the 2023 Young Professional of the Year in the paper industry for her contributions to sustainability in consumer packaging. However, Talton was looking for something more…something different. With two younger siblings currently attending BSoR (Callie ’24 and John ’24) and her parents active in the community, Talton was pulled back in and felt the calling to serve her alma mater. Seeking to make an impact on the future leaders in our community, Talton was recently named BSoR’s Director of Alumni. In this role, she will work to develop and nurture the relationships between Saint Gertrude and Benedictine alumni and the schools to enhance mission, community, and philanthropic support. For the first time in BSoR’s history, there will be someone dedicated to alumni support and to increasing engagement across all decades of the alumni base.
As a student, Talton ran indoor and outdoor track, and her first leadership role was being a team captain. Her motivation for her own success helped her motivate others on the team. Motivation is contagious under a strong leader, and there is no doubt that Talton is the perfect person to lead our alumni community into the future.
Mary Clare Curtin '12
Air Force Captain and Pilot
Mary Clare Curtin had flown only once before traveling from Virginia to Colorado in the summer of 2012 to enroll at the United States Air Force Academy. Today only birds spend more time aloft. Or so it seems. Curtin, a pilot, and a captain in the Air Force, flies the C-17A Globemaster, a massive four-engine jet aircraft that typically performs tactical, strategic, and humanitarian airlift missions. She estimates that over the past four years she has flown C-17s into “over a hundred different airfields in about 40 countries all over the world.” Some of her recent missions literally made headlines. Curtin flew into Afghanistan on four occasions during last summer’s evacuation of non-combatants from Kabul. She was the pilot and aircraft commander of a C-17 that delivered Marines and materiel necessary to secure the airfield and removed more than 1,000 people. As the aircraft commander, Curtin was required to be in the pilot’s seat for every takeoff and landing.
Time on the ground in Kabul was tense and “extremely volatile,” she said. But it was not without moments of cultural pride. Many of her outward-bound passengers were Afghani civilians. Said Curtin: “I got a lot of confused looks from the passengers – especially when I would give orders to my male crew members.” Other moments were profoundly poignant. Curtin recalled speaking with an Afghani man who volunteered to serve as the liaison and translator between Curtin’s crew and the other evacuees – most of whom spoke no English. The man told Curtin that had he and his family not been able to flee, they “without a doubt would have been killed by the Taliban.” Curtin said her four years at Saint Gertrude prepared her well for the Air Force Academy and subsequent active duty. Her years at Saint Gertrude, she said, “pushed me in a way I had never experienced before.”
Evelyn McGill '75
Executive Director of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation
Commission Evelyn McGill was a sophomore at Saint Gertrude when her father died in 1973. She made a vow to herself soon thereafter. Never, she said, would she do anything to create additional pain for her mother, Rachel. Never would she make her mother anything less than proud of her. Never would she lose sight of the Catholic values her mother worked so diligently to instill in her. “Mom did so much for me,” McGill said. “I wanted to say, ‘Thank you’. I decided to do it by being the best person I could possibly be.” Consider it done. Before Rachel passed away in 2020, she saw her daughter earn graduate degrees from Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech, serve for 12 years as a deputy chief of administration in the Richmond police department and subsequently become the executive director of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC). McGill has held the latter position for the past decade.
“All I’ve ever wanted is to make Mom proud of me,” she said. “I always believed that with following the Lord, and with the foundation Mom created in my heart and soul, I could pretty much do anything I set out to do.” McGill said her goal at the VWC is to create “the best and most effective” state agency in the country – and I believe we’re on our way to doing that.” So, apparently, do its staff members. The VWC was chosen in 2021 as a top workplace in Virginia and in 2022 as a Top Workplace USA. McGill said “we” is the pronoun of choice at the VWC. “We’re a team,” she said. “We work as a team. When you’re a team, the team’s success is everyone’s success.” McGill was Saint Gertrude’s commencement speaker in 2020 and currently serves as a Benedictine Schools of Richmond Foundation board member. She and her husband have two sons and three grandsons.
Caroline Townsend Neal, an energetic woman with a deep desire to help the less fortunate, wasn’t entirely content as a stay-at-home mom. She soothed her restless spirit by reaching out to children other than her own – specifically, children adrift in the local foster care system. Neal, a former social worker, founded Worthdays, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit endeavor, soon after the birth in 2006 of her third child. Her intent was to encourage children in foster care to feel worthy, important, and deserving of respect. What better way to enhance a child’s self-esteem, Neal said, than by acknowledgement on a birthday? Or Christmas? Or Valentine’s Day? Neal was in many respects born for the position she now occupies. She has seen life from a diverse – she prefers the word “unique” – perspective. She grew up on Oregon Hill. She attended Richmond Public schools in addition to Saint Benedict’s and Saint Gertrude. Her parents, she said, became foster parents while she was still a child.
Neal has watched with pride and delight as Worthdays has flourished. She said she initially feared the hill would prove too steep; that Richmonders wouldn’t see – or wouldn’t want to see – the grim, gray realities with which foster children often are required to cope. And indeed, this seemed to be the case. But then she began to seek assistance on social media and the Worthdays website. A transformation she describes as “absolutely incredible” took place. Now, she said, needs are met and requests filled almost as soon as they are posted. Her SGHS 2001 classmates are among those doing the responding. Even classmates with whom she wasn’t particularly close “are supporting us in a big way,” she said. Neal wears many hats during a Worthdays workday. She serves not only as the organization’s executive director but also as its fundraiser and social media coordinator.
Sarah Shelton '18
Human Rights Advocate
Sarah Shelton graduated from Virginia Tech with a double degree in marketing and French and two minors: philosophy, politics, and economics and international business. But the lessons that resonate most are those learned last spring during a three-week study-abroad visit to the East African town of Rilima, Rwanda. “We met some of the most selfless and kind people,” Shelton said. “They taught us, truly, what happiness, hard work, and gratitude look like. I can’t fully express the impact the community had on me.” So touched were Shelton and her 11 traveling companions that they worked throughout the 2021 spring semester on an in-depth project to empower the women of Rilima by introducing them to the rudiments of entrepreneurship. The United States Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, rewarded the group’s efforts with a $10,000 grant. Shelton and three other Virginia Tech students returned to Rilima in March to guide and advise the women who will serve as the program’s leaders.
The 15-week program will seek to introduce 30 or so local women to the concepts of business development and entrepreneurship – thereby supplying them with weapons with which to fight entrenched gender inequality. Shelton said she hopes the program “will maybe make a fraction of the impact on the community that the community has made on us.” Workshops will teach, through storytelling, skills such as decision-making and leadership. Seed funding will be offered at the end of the program. Shelton is no stranger to the concept of extending a helping hand. She said her parents “showed me ways to give back to others – not just in our community but around the world – by encouraging me from a young age to participate in service.” Her time at Saint Gertrude, she said, affected her in a similar way. Shelton intends, ultimately, to attend law school. Her likely areas of focus: international human rights and public international law
Beth Merwin ’72 and Katie Merwin ’00
A Mother-Daughter Powerhouse
Children learn by watching. Katie Merwin learned by watching her mother, Beth Merwin, already a respected and decorated nurse, pursue a doctorate degree in health services organization and research at Virginia Commonwealth University in the late 1980s. Said Beth: “From the time Katie was born, my career was a big part of our lives. She was three when I started work on my PhD. When she was in kindergarten, she’d seen enough to be able to tell me: ‘Don’t ever expect me to ever write a dissertation.’” Beth, undeterred, continued her climb toward the nursing profession’s highest peaks. Today she is a dean and professor at the University of Texas- Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She is a consulting professor at Duke and a professor emerita at the University of Virginia.
Katie kept her promise. She never wrote a dissertation. She did, however, contribute to a remarkable double dose of family achievement by graduating from Barry University’s School of Law and subsequently becoming a partner in the West Palm Beach offices of the Florida-based firm of Cole, Scott and Kissane. Her areas of practice include civil rights law and commercial litigation. Beth said she has “no words to describe how proud I am” of Katie’s success. Katie said her mother was, and is, an exemplary role model. “Seeing a strong, career-oriented woman build a happy and fulfilling life – that’s my normal,” Katie said. Both women said Saint Gertrude helped point them in the proper direction. Beth said the school “gave us the opportunity to lead…the opportunity to participate. The culture at Saint Gertrude was one that built confidence.” The nuns, lay faculty, and older students, she said, sent a very strong message: ‘You can do anything.’” Katie needed only two words to describe the impact of her Saint Gertrude experience. She called it “very empowering.”
Ann-Frances Lambert '93
Richmond City Councilwoman
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 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.