Foundations in Education Announces Gala Honorees

October 7, 2021 | Foundations in Education | General News

Foundations in Education, Inc, a non-profit organization created to assist the Diocese of Bridgeport’s ongoing mission to support Catholic education in Fairfield County, announced its 2022 honorees—recognizing generosity in support of Catholic education, excellence in education administration and corporate partner.

The 2022 honorees are Barbara and Peter Ripp, Dr. Steven Cheeseman and Mutual of America. Foundations in Education will honor the recipients at the 6th annual gala on Thursday, May 5, 2022 at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Connecticut.

“Each year, we have the privilege of acknowledging individuals and an organization who are true partners in our mission,” remarked Foundations in Education Executive Director Holly Doherty-Lemoine. “Our honorees have impacted thousands of children and their collective contributions are felt across Fairfield County.”

Peter and Barbara Ripp of Greenwich are longtime supporters of Catholic education, and Foundations in Education has benefitted from the impact of their support in many ways. Barbara is a member of the board of trustees and has co-chaired the annual gala several times since 2017. Peter and Barbara established the Christopher Ripp Early Learning Program in memory of their son Christopher. The Ripps’ sponsorship of several Leaders of Tomorrow over these many years continues to impact the lives of each one of these students.

The Ripps provided funding for preschool programs at the Father English Community Center in Patterson, N.J., which provides after school programming for preschool children and their parents. Modeled after this New Jersey program, the program, established in memory of their son here in the Diocese of Bridgeport was launched at St. Peter’s School in Danbury and then expanded to All Saints School in Norwalk.

Peter has a degree in economics from Iona College and received an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He retired as chief operating officer for NIC Holding Corp., a petroleum services and trading company, and is on the board of trustees at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Peter is currently the lead board director at Petroterminal de Panama.

Barbara received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and elementary education from Marymount Manhattan College and her master’s in education for special needs children from Kean University. Across her career, she worked as a case supervisor for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), a tutor at Edna Mahon Correctional Facility and a child advocate for the Association for Children of New Jersey in Newark. Since moving to Connecticut, Barbara has served on the board of Malta House and was involved in all aspects of this home for pregnant women experiencing homelessness and women with young children. As a member of the Order of Malta, she participated in prison ministry and as a mentor in the Shepherds program.

Barbara and Peter divide their time between Florida and Connecticut, and enjoy spending time with their three grandchildren.

Dr. Steven Cheeseman began his career in Catholic education in 1991 in the youth and religious education office at St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches, N.Y. His first teaching job was at Mercy High School in Riverhead, N.Y. and over the course of his teaching career he taught social studies, English and religion at the junior and senior high school level. In 2002, Dr. Cheeseman returned to his roots when he accepted the role of principal at his alma mater, McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, N.Y.

In 2004, after receiving his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Technology, he joined the History and Education Departments at St. Joseph College in Patchogue, N.Y. as an adjunct professor. Dr. Cheeseman also worked at Fordham University in the Graduate School of Education’s School Building Leadership Program, and has been called upon by Molloy College in Rockville Center as a course writer for their School Law and Educational Policy courses.

From 2010-2016, Dr. Cheeseman served as associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., where he led strategic and reorganization planning. In 2016, Dr. Cheeseman was appointed to the role of Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn., where he currently provides leadership and support to the diocese’s 19 elementary schools, five high schools and one special education school.

Dr. Cheeseman believes that every child is created in the image and likeness of God and is blessed with unique skills, talents and gifts. Therefore, as Catholic educators it is our responsibility to provide an education that recognizes and respects the dignity and uniqueness of every individual student so that he or she may reach his or her fullest potential.

Currently, Dr. Cheeseman serves as vice chair of the New England Chief Administrators of Catholic Education. He resides in Stratford, Conn. and is a member of St. Mark Parish. He is extremely grateful to have his wife, Danielle, by his side and for the blessings of his three children: Steven, Christina and Emily.

Mutual of America is a leading provider of retirement and investment services. Founded in 1945, Mutual of America is a Fortune 1000 mutual company based in New York City and is ranked on the Forbes 500 list as the tenth-largest retirement provider in the United States.

Mutual of America is dedicated to making a difference in the world, not only by helping individuals meet their long-term financial objectives, but also by having a direct, positive impact on the future of our society. A sense of social responsibility has distinguished Mutual of America since its founding as a provider of retirement plan services for employees in not-for-profit organizations.

In addition to supporting the mission of many non-profits and providing matching gift contributions for employees, the Mutual of America Community Partnership Award celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020. This prestigious national award honors non-profit organizations and their programs that demonstrate the value of partnership in helping to create innovative solutions to some of society’s most difficult challenges.

Mutual of America has generously partnered with Foundations in Education since 2018 as a corporate sponsor.

“Foundations in Education’s goal to transform lives through innovation and a strong education foundation is both inspiring and close to our heart at Mutual of America Financial Group. For 75 years, we have been committed to providing valuable education and innovative solutions to help our customers, including more than 60 Catholic dioceses and organizations nationwide, achieve their retirement savings and investment goals. We are especially pleased to support the crucial work FIE is accomplishing to strengthen and transform education in the communities where we all live,” said Robert Fay, senior field vice president.

The annual spring gala is Foundations in Education’s premier fundraising event. Gala proceeds benefit Foundations in Education, including Bishop’s Scholarship Fund and Innovation and Leadership Grants. This year alone, Bishop’s Scholarship Fund awarded nearly 1,300 students more than $2,700,000 in tuition assistance. Foundations also awarded more than $142,000 to educators and administrators for their transformative grant projects and for their innovation and leadership in the classroom in the face of the pandemic. In light of the heroic innovative contributions of faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, we awarded a gift card to ALL faculty and staff within diocesan Catholic schools and the Office of the Superintendent.

Contributions to Foundations in Education transform lives. The proceeds from the annual gala support the programs and services of Foundations in Education.