FIE Celebrates Catholic Education at 2024 Gala

May 13, 2024 | Foundations in Education | News

Foundations in Education hosted their annual fundraising event at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut on Thursday, April 25, 2024.  The annual event is the major fundraising activity for Foundations in Education and raised $1 million dollars. The program featured recognition of two notable honorees, an inspiring student speaker and live auction.

The gathering of over 200 friends and donors provided an enjoyable evening of shared mission, great food and high energy. First to be recognized was friend and former Trustee, Michael Shea of Southport. He was recognized for his “inspiring leadership and generous personal commitment to Catholic education.” Michael shared his commitment to the Leaders of Tomorrow initiative saying “when you meet the student and their parents at the annual breakfast, you know the difference you are making in a young child’s life.”  The next to be recognized was corporate partner M&T Bank represented by Frank Micalizzi of Ridgefield, for their “corporate partnership and commitment to Catholic education.”  Frank shared his gratitude for the work of Foundations in Education and his pride in support of Foundations’ mission, which helps transform lives.

St. Mary School of Ridgefield 8th grader, Hunter, was the student speaker. Hunter is a Leader of Tomorrow recipient, which identifies her as a student of good character, strong academics and leadership potential. She shared her personal Catholic school experience with those gathered for Foundations’ premiere fundraising event of the year. Hunter stated, “Being a part of the Catholic faith has shown me I can be brave and during hard times, trust God because He has a plan for me.. Thank you for making this possible.” remarked Hunter.
The gala committee, co-chaired by Jennifer St. Victor-de Pinho of Ridgefield and Allison Reiling of Fairfield, worked tirelessly for a year to plan an exciting celebration and to raise awareness and support for Foundations in Education (FIE), and its mission to strengthen and transform the mission of Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport. They were joined in the effort by Lisa Ferraro, Michaele Mitola, Barbara Ripp, Jody Myers, Marigle Holmes, Holly Doherty-Lemoine, CFRE and Emily Carriero.

The funds raised include sponsorships, ticket purchases, a live auction and a “Raise the Paddle” identifying sponsors for 83 Leaders of Tomorrow. Proceeds of the event support FIE’s mission, most notably the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, providing tuition assistance to families demonstrating need, a program that strives to make Catholic education more affordable for families. Additionally proceeds support the Innovation and Leadership Grants program, providing competitive grants for teachers, encouraging innovation in classrooms.  New this year was a first time $50,000 Matching Gift Challenge by Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation to promote FIE’s Innovation and Leadership Grants. We are exceedingly grateful to the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation for doubling the impact of these gifts.

Guests enjoyed a lovely meal and a lively program led by Bobby D. of Inspire Hearts Fundraising. FIE is grateful to sponsors and friends who made this evening such a resounding success, including The McInerney Family Foundation, The Elizabeth M. Pfriem Foundation, Fairfield University, Jon & Mary Rather, Peter & Barbara Ripp, Chris & Lorraine Wilson, M&T Bank, Mary Jo & Robert Dyer, Mutual of America, Parsons and Whittemore, Geoff Raker, Michael & Rebecca Shea, Edgewood Capital Advisors LLC, The Knights of Columbus Supreme, The Lautenbach Family Foundation, Mary Alice & Thomas O’Malley, Robert & Kate Niehaus, Lisa & Joe Purcell and St. Thomas More Parish.

FIE is thankful to the many attendees who invest in our children as Holly Doherty-Lemoine, Executive Director for Foundations in Education remarked, “Each year I am incredibly moved by the generosity of our friends. The ripples their contributions create will be felt by more than a thousand students in the coming year, and we cannot thank you enough. You transform lives, one student at a time.  Thank you!”

If you wish to contribute to Foundations in Education or choose to learn more about how you may get involved with the work of Foundations in Education, please visit us online at or call Emily Carriero at 203.416.1671.