The Thomas More Alumni Awards honor outstanding alumni and community leaders whose talents and expertise have made a significant impact in their community. Awards include: citizenship, service, professional achievement, emerging leader, and lasting influence. This year’s award celebration took place during Alumni & Family Weekend, from April 20-24, 2022. To view the ceremony with introductions and acceptance speeches, CLICK HERE.
And the honorees are:
Lori Eifert Knochelmann ’15
Nomination: Lori is the McKinney Vento Homeless Coordinator for Covington Independent Public Schools. Lori’s nominator had this to say about her commitment to service: “Lori goes above and beyond for our families. Even during times of great challenge in her personal life, she always finds a way to help a child or family in need. She finds a way to help when no way is apparent. Despite whatever she may be going through, she wears a smile on her face for our students, families, and the school team. It is not unusual for her to get a text or phone call late at night or on a Saturday to develop a plan for a family in crisis. Day or night, by text, phone, or email, Lori is available to our students and families. As we type this, she is out serving a family not even on her project home caseload because they need food and there is no one else available. She never says no to any family or team member who needs help. We don’t feel she knows the meaning of the word ‘no’ when it comes to challenges a student may face. She is a relentless advocate for our students and families, which is what makes Lori so valuable to this district. When Lori sees a resource for our students, she goes above and beyond, agreeing to give of her time and effort even to the extent of coordinating a project that is outside of her job description.”
Profile: Lori Eifert, now Knochelmann, has worked in the field of education for 18 years at Covington Independent Public School District and received the Class Act Award in 2016 for going above and beyond. The last 14 years she has been the Project Home Coordinator, where she manages the implementation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program, working with over 680 students and their families, who qualify under this law, and partnering with outside resources to assists families in crisis. She is the co-founder of the Northern Kentucky Homeless Education Collaborative, which lead to her receiving the 2019 Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award for her work with homeless students. She is also the district Foster Care Point of Contact, helping over 60 students to keep their academics stable. Lori is a BBA graduate of Thomas More’s TAP Program, where she received The Carlton Leadership Award, and the Post-Traditional Adult Undergraduate Student Award in 2016. She tells students the education is their only way out of poverty, and in order to do as she preached, she received her degree late in life. Lori states, “You can lose your house, car, and all your belongings, but no one can ever take away your education.” She previously served on many boards, such as the Executive Board Chair over programming at Women’s Crisis Center, At-large board member of Thomas More University Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Committee, Chairman of the City of Covington’s New City Hall Task Force, and school board member of the Holy Cross District High School. She continues to carry on the mission of Clay’s Kids Tuition Assistance Fund at Holy Cross High School, which was a vision her deceased husband started while he was principal. Lori continues to advocate for students who have no voice or choice in being homeless.
Mary Beth Odom ’19
Nomination: Mary Beth is the staff accountant at Gilligan Company and head softball coach at Beechwood High School. Mary Beth’s nominator had this to say: “Mary Beth was a teammate and now friend. I am nominating her because she has grown to become a great accountant and coach. She has shown me how to be a hard worker, loyal, and a driven person. She worked so hard while she was at Thomas More and to get to where she is now. I am so proud! She worked her way up since she graduated and is now a staff accountant at Gilligan Company and working to get her CPA. She also is the head softball coach at Beechwood High School.”
Profile: Mary Beth Odom graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an associates degree in business administration and mathematics. With her degrees, she earned 150 credits in order to be eligible to take the CPA exam. She played softball for Thomas More and contributed to many successful seasons. Along with playing softball, Mary Beth was a part of the Math & Physics Club, Accounting Society, Student Ambassador, became the Head Student Ambassador, and Residents Assistant.
Mary Beth learned so much at Thomas More, especially from her softball coaches, Lindsay and Patrick Egan – so much so, she looked to pass along all the lessons and all the hard work that was put into her after she graduated. Along with landing a full time accounting job after graduation and started the process to become a CPA, Mary Beth became assistant softball coach at Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. In 2021, she became the head softball coach and continues to teach the girls softball skills as well as personal growth skills. This drive to pay forward all the lessons she has learned at Thomas More, has lead Mary Beth to commit to excellence in her post-collegiate life.
Joe Shriver ’94
Nomination: Joe is the deputy judge executive and county administrator for Kenton County, Kentucky. Shriver’s nominator included these highlights from his outstanding career: Served (at will) under four judge executives from 1999-2022; served as the chief operating officer for the third largest county in the state, overseeing all operational aspects of the county since 2010; responsible for budgets ranging from $74M total to $99M total; assisted in the construction of a new $40M detention center; consolidated Animal Control Service county-wide; oversaw the implementation of funding mechanisms that fully funded dispatch services; served as Kenton County’s liaison and primary contact for the construction of the new $30M government campus in Covington; served as Kenton County’s liaison and primary contact for the tri-county area’s (Boone, Campbell and Kenton) conversion from analog to a new digital public safety radio system, giving unprecedented connectivity to first responders across the entire region; assisted the county jailer in establishing a world-class substance abuse program in the detention center; coordinated the purchase of the Pleasure Isle property and partnered with Transitions Inc. to substantially increase inpatient beds in the community for drug treatment; coordinated and served as lead on the broadband expansion project with Cincinnati Bell, bringing fiber to all areas of Kenton County; overseeing the conversion of occupational license tax and business taxes from paper to online filing through a new tax portal; Northern Kentucky City/County Management Association’s Manager of the Year in 2021 and 2017.”
Profile: Currently in his 24th year of service for the Kenton County Fiscal Court, Joe Shriver holds the title of County Administrator for the third largest county by population in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. First appointed to the position in February of 2010, Joe directs all aspects of County government operations. Prior to assuming his current position, Joe also holds/held the titles of Deputy Judge/Executive, Deputy Chief of Staff and Human Resource Director with Kenton County. He began his public sector career with another river city when he worked for the City of Newport in an administrative position within the Police Department. Born and raised in Paris, Kentucky, Joe moved to the Northern Kentucky area in 1990 to attend Thomas More University where he attained a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1994. While at Thomas More, Joe was a four-year starter on the first football teams in the school’s history. He pursued and attained a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Kentucky University in 1996 and a Juris Doctor from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 2003. Joe currently resides with his wife, Rhonda (Barton) ’94 and four children in Villa Hills, Kentucky.
In 2022, there are two recipients of this award
Amy Darpel ’94
Nomination: Amy is the director of advancement at Covington Latin School (CLS). Her nominator described her as “fostering an environment of constant community among the students, faculty, and alumni of the school. The CLS family has become much closer as a result of her efforts. She is one of the greatest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her positive energy and tireless work ethic make her a model for all current and previous Thomas More students. Through her hard work, I have learned to be steadfast in my beliefs, constant in my service to others, and do everything with fervor.”
Profile: Amy Darpel grew up in Edgewood, Kentucky, then married her high school sweetheart, Dave Darpel. After graduating from Thomas More with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and Psychology with an associate degree in history and theology, Amy taught at Simon Kenton High School. She took a leave of absence to stay home with her children, but she did not remain idle during those years. As a parishioner and parent at St. Joseph in Crescent Springs, Amy served as president of the Parents and Teachers Organization, president of the School Board, a parish council member, and the chair of the parish’s annual End of Summer Celebration. She also remained up-to-date on educational practices through tutoring and homeschooling. During this time, she developed a passion for gifted and twice-exceptional education which led her to accept a position at Covington Latin School as the admissions director and as the executive director of the ExploreMore! Gifted Program in which she created a partnership with Thomas More University. Through this partnership, Thomas More education students gain real-life teaching experience, and gifted students in the area foster relationships with like-minded children. Amy is now the director of advancement at Covington Latin School. She is a proud parent of two Thomas More University graduates and one Thomas More current student.
She credits her passion for giving back to the community from the lessons she learned from her parents throughout her childhood and the confidence to lead from her time at Thomas More College.
Christopher Sapp ’95
Nomination: Not only is Chris an alum, he is also the assistant bursar at Thomas More University. Chris’s nominator had this to say:, “Chris joined the local Chapter of the ADG National Fraternity at Thomas More in 1990. He held numerous offices culminating in Chapter President in 1994/1995. In those years Chris led numerous activities and projects linked to the five core principles of ADG: Service, Scholastic, Spiritual, School Spirit and Social. These are the Five ‘S’s.’ ADG Brothers embrace, practice and foster these areas to develop our members into well-rounded citizens. In 1994 the Chapter earned the national awards for outstanding campus service and membership growth – a recognition of both Chris and the entire chapter’s efforts. Chris continued his fraternal service with his ascendancy to the role of national president in 2010. During his time as president he focused on improving the candidate and officer development programs to ensure they continued to foster the Five ‘S’s.’ ADG also expanded our Chapter base by 20%. Chris continues to provide guidance to the Fraternity National Leadership to this day and on a local level serves as the Faculty Advisor to the Thomas More Chapter.
“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling the values of duties to God, country, physical fitness and helping other people at all times. In this organization of 1.2 million Scouts, Chris achieved the level of Eagle Scout himself and in 2008 renewed his passion to serve by becoming a Scout Leader of 20 to 30 young men that he continues to serve today. Chris has led numerous activities such as Summer Camps, Campbell County Cash for Trash Day, numerous Flag Placement and Retirement Ceremonies, Washington, D.C., tours as well as numerous physical fitness challenges. He attained the role of Commissioner of the Northern Kentucky District (over 1,000 Scouts) and was awarded the District Award of Merit in 2017. Chris’ passion for service to community through our youth makes him an exceptional candidate for this award.”
Profile: Chris took his education at Thomas More and utilized it to impact his community. For over 18 years Chris served as a Boy Scout leader for both the local parish as scoutmaster and at the regional level as the assistant district commissioner. Chris spent 24 years with the Campbell County Fiscal Court as a public servant in the Fiscal Affairs office. He consistently implemented cost saving measures as a diligent steward of public funding. Chris helped to expand many local programs, supporting community service organizations as well as non-profits in Northern Kentucky. Chris also served on the Alpha Delta Gamma’s national board and council, not only helping students that are part of that organization at Thomas More but also at 12 other campuses across the country.
Through ADG, Chris earned the premier title of first ombudsman and served the Thomas More chapter in this role for seven years. Chris worked closely with the young men at Thomas More, and thanks to his efforts, many have gone on to serve as leaders in service at Thomas More, as well as other local organizations and national companies.
Currently, Chris serves as a valuable member of the Office of Student Accounts here at Thomas More. Even in this role, Chris remains focused on improving the functionality and precision of the department. He has continued his work by helping students succeed financially, and he continues to foster relationships with everyone he interacts with. Chris has drastically helped to improve communication between students, their advisors, other staff members, and faculty. Through each encounter, Chris remains a prime example of leadership and service by guiding students to make sure their larger concern is the classroom instead of financial barriers.
Chris graduated from Thomas More in 1995 and resides in Southgate with his wife, Vicki (Hoening) ’95, whom he met while at Thomas More. She is an art teacher at Newport Independent School District and an adjunct professor at Thomas More in the Education Department.
Sr. Irmina Saelinger, OSB, Ph.D. (posthumously)
Nomination: Sr. Irmina Sailinger is the well deserving recipient of this year’s Lasting Influence award. Her nominator had this to say about Sr. Irmina’s role in the Villa Madonna/Thomas More administration: “Serving as registrar from 1928-1967, Sr. Irmina was the glue that held together the student experience, navigating expertly between student needs and academic requirements. Quite a few alums referred to her as their ‘guardian angel’ as she took a personal interest in their undergrad journey. John Hagan ’67 in particular comes to mind as he stated he would not have graduated but for her intercessions with the administration.
“Sr. Irmina wore many hats and knew how to perform the duties necessary to run the college. She was also well educated, having earned a doctorate, like so many of the religious faculty at VMC. Fr. John Murphy mused in his memoirs that, in his opinion, she should have been named president in 1951 instead of him. In addition to her valuable administrative role, Sr. Irmina also chronicled the early history of the college. Her book ‘Retrospect and Vista, the First Fifty Years of Thomas More College, formerly Villa Madonna College’ is the go-to resource for any information desired about the early college days.”
Profile: Sr. Irmina Sailinger began her service to Villa Madonna/Thomas More in 1922, immediately after graduating from Xavier University. She taught in the education division before moving into the role of registrar from 1928-1967, where she excelled, serving of primary importance in the student experience. Sr. Irmina could navigate expertly between student needs and academic requirements. Quite a few alums referred to her as their ‘guardian angel’ as she took a personal interest in their undergrad journey. Alumnus John Hagan ’67 stated in an interview that he would not have graduated but for her intercessions with the administration. Sr. Irmina knew how to perform the duties necessary to run the college and was well educated, having earned a doctorate, like many of the religious faculty at VMC. Former Thomas More president, Fr. John Murphy, mused in his memoirs that, in his opinion, she should have been named president in 1951 instead of him. Sr. Irmina also chronicled the early history of the college. Her book ‘Retrospect and Vista, the First Fifty Years of Thomas More College, formerly Villa Madonna College’ is an invaluable resource, containing information about the challenges and growth of Thomas More during its earliest days as Northern Kentucky’s first institution of higher education.”
Thomas More Boosters/All Saints Club – The Thomas More Boosters, now named the All Saints Club is committed to generating the financial and supporting resources for all Thomas More University athletic programs to compete at the highest level and help our 750+ student-athletes graduate as they prepare for life after college. Our efforts focus on enhancing the overall experience for our student-athletes by building a culture that promotes a commitment to excellence in the classroom, on the playing field and arena, and in our communities. The club supports the University in generating new funding for annual sports budgets, facility upgrades, and endowed scholarships that allow us to attract and retain the best talent and coaches. We engage our supporter base by providing a fun and energetic gameday experience that celebrates the past, present, and future.