News & Events

Community leaders honored with 2013 De La Salle Awards

Community leaders honored with 2013 De La Salle Awards

Published: April 22, 2013.


(L to R, back row) John Gordon, Vincent McGirr,
Thomas Grotovsky, Rodney Tonelli
(front row) The Honorable Chrystel L. Gavlin, Dr. Dennis
Killian, Patricia Merryweather-Arges and
Brother James Gaffney, FSC

Lewis University recognized seven members of the community with the De La Salle Award during a special ceremony on Sunday, April 14, 2013. This prestigious award is presented each year to individuals who provide extraordinary service and leadership for the benefit of the community and region. Award recipients for 2013 are The Honorable Chrystel L. Gavlin, John Gordon, Thomas Grotovsky, Dr. Dennis Killian, Vincent McGirr, Patricia Merryweather-Arges and Rodney Tonelli.

The De La Salle Awards Ceremony began with a Mass at 10:30 a.m. in the Sancta Alberta Chapel on the Lewis main campus in Romeoville. The presentation of the awards by Lewis University President, Brother James Gaffney, FSC, followed, and honorees and guests celebrated afterwards with a luncheon. The 2013 award recipients represent a diverse, talented and distinguished group of leaders, with substantial accomplishments in their professions and devotion to improving the lives of all in their communities.

The Honorable Chrystel L. Gavlin
The first African-American Associate Judge in Will County, the Honorable Chrystel L. Gavlin is an enthusiastic and highly dedicated professional who has dedicated her career to assisting others in their quest for justice. Judge Gavlin earned a bachelorís degree from the College of St. Francis and a juris doctor from Northern Illinois University. She successfully managed her own firm in Joliet, Illinois from 2001 to 2012. Prior to entering private practice, this young attorney worked as a prosecutor, first in the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office and then later in the Will County District Attorney's Office. An experienced attorney with more than 16 years of practice, Judge Gavlin currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of St. Francis. She also generously devoted time in 2007 to serve as a Mock Trial coach at Lewis University, with the team placing 16th out of 48 teams in the National Intercollegiate Mock Trial Tournament.

John Gordon
Very successful in his career in finance, John Gordon has also carved a niche for himself through his remarkable provision of scholarship opportunities for Lewis students in Criminal/Social Justice, as well as through his personal service in support of law enforcement. Gordon earned a bachelorís degree from Illinois State University in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. Now Project Manager for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, Gordon earlier worked as a propriety equity trader for SKTY II Trading, LLC; Opus Trading, LLC; and as an independent contractor for Louis Stern, LLC. In August 2004, his brother, Chicago Police Officer Michael Gordon, was killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver. From that moment onward, Gordon felt it was imperative to find an effective way to honor his brotherís memory. He therefore founded and is the Director of the Michael P. Gordon Memorial Foundation. Through the Foundation, Gordon established a generous scholarship at Lewis University in 2005 to provide financial assistance to a full-time undergraduate student enrolled in the Justice, Law and Public Safety Program who wishes to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Thomas Grotovsky
Thomas Grotovsky has more than 22 years of hands-on experience in construction management and currently works as Operations Manager for R. Berti Building Solutions, Inc., in Lockport, where he has been a highly valued employee for the past 15 years. He received his education in carpentry from Washburn Trade School, and very capably served as the Superintendent and Safety Coordinator for R. Carlson & Sons, Inc., in Mokena. Some area projects in which Grotovsky was most proud to be associated include construction of the Joliet Oncology Building, as well as the Joliet West and Joliet Central High Schoolsí fieldhouse buildings. A Trustee of the Three Rivers Construction Alliance, Grotovsky is also a member of the Illinois Construction Industry Committee. Very active in civic affairs, Grotovsky has faithfully devoted his time and exceptional talents to the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Will, Grundy, Kankakee and Iroquois Counties; Joliet Rotary Club 78; Rotary District 6450; and the Professional Committee for United Way Annual Appeal of Will County.

Dr. Dennis Killian
President of the Heartland Cardiovascular Center in Joliet and a very prominent area physician, Dr. Dennis Killian earned his bachelorís degree from Harvard College and his M.D. from Northwestern University. His clinical and hospital appointments over the years were completed at Loyola University Medical Center, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Silver Cross Hospital and the Community Hospital of Ottawa. He has more than 26 years of experience and practice in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cardiology. A strong advocate for various humanitarian causes, Dr. Killian is a staunch supporter of charitable organizations including Green Peace International, Doctors Without Borders, and Amnesty International. As part of his dedication to fitness and health, he participates in Presence Saint Joseph Medical Centerís ďWalk with a DocĒ program, which invites staff, volunteers and community members to walk a mile around the hospital twice weekly and to listen to a physician speaking on cardiology and other medical issues.

Vincent McGirr
Vincent McGirr, a highly dedicated educator, is noted for his distinguished career of more than three decades in teaching and administration at Joliet Township High Schools. Now retired, McGirr served the students and the school district in multiple capacities, including special education teacher, business and marketing teacher, District Director of Support Services, and District Assistant Business Manager. During his tenure, McGirr held leadership roles for several organizations, serving as President of the Will County Chief School Officials, as well as President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Will County Council for Exceptional Children. McGirr is a member of numerous area organizations, including the Joliet Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Joliet Area Retired Teachers Associations, American Federation of Teachers, the American Vocational Association, the Illinois Vocational Association, National Association of Distributive Education Teachers, Senior Services Centers of Will County, and Kiwanis Club of Joliet.

Patricia Merryweather-Arges
Highly distinguished in her career in healthcare management, Patricia Merryweather-Arges has combined her professional work with much success in her family life and countless hours of generous volunteer service. At an early age, Merryweather-Arges volunteered at the Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing Home, later donating her time at Alexian Brothers Hospital when it was located in Chicago. She faithfully provided 28 years of bedside volunteering at Childrenís Memorial Hospital while working in healthcare. She graduated from Loras College and later went on to earn a Master of Arts from Marquette University. A dedicated Rotarian, Merryweather-Arges was elected President of the Rotary Club of Naperville in 2009-2010 and is Governor-Elect for Rotary International District 6450, Inc. She shares her services with the American Red Cross of Great Chicago, the Naperville Education Foundation Board, Naperville Rotary Charities, and Naperville Responds to Our Veterans Board along with various hospital quality boards and councils.

Rodney Tonelli
When Tonelli became involved in the family business, Ruettiger,Tonelli & Associates, Inc., he continued to follow the values exhibited by his father, both personally and as part of the service-oriented culture of the company. His father, Dennis Tonelli, is a current Board of Trustees member at Lewis University. Tonelli earned his bachelorís degree from Marquette University in Philosophy and Political Science and his masterís degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Urban Planning. He holds a professional license from the American Institute of Certified Planners. A member of the Will County Governmental League, Tonelli participates as a board member for various organizations, including the Will County Center for Economic Development, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and the Joliet Park District Foundation. In the past, he has held leadership positions for organizations including the Joliet City Center Partnership, the Joliet Junior College Foundation, Will County Habitat for Humanity, Will Grundy Counties Home Builders and Associates, Catholic Charities of the Joliet Diocese, Joliet City Center Partnership Architectural Review Committee, Will County CED Diplomats Committee, and the Greater Joliet Area YMCA Metropolitan Board of Directors. Highly capable and effective, he is also the Advisory Director for Hometown National Bank. Additionally, he has served Lewis University on the Lowell Stahl Center for Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Advisory Board since 2008.

Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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