Germantown Academy was proud to welcome back and celebrate the 2021 recipients of the Alumni Mission Award today. Please join us in congratulating Lori Dougherty Andress '88, Jessica Golson '06, Stephanie Lueckel '96, and Helen Piszek Nelson '70 (dec.; represented by her husband, Erik). (SEE PHOTOS)
The Alumni Mission Award is designed to recognize multiple graduates from the Academy who are living the GA mission: Independent in Thought, Confident in Expression, Compassionate in Spirit, Collaborative in Action, and Honorable in Deed. Nominees must be 10 years out or more from graduation. The Alumni Mission Award is bestowed on a bi-annual basis.
Lori Dougherty Andress '88
As one nominee wrote, “the hallmarks of a truly great nurse are tremendous common sense, unflappability, depth and breadth of clinical knowledge and deep compassion. It is what separates a good nurse from a great nurse. Lori Andress has these qualities in abundance.” Serving as the Academy’s school nurse since 2008, Lori has seen it all. Whether it’s scraped knees, broken bones, a place to rest or sometimes just a hug, students go to Nurse Lori because she makes them feel seen and tended to. From the daycare to the retirees, Lori has made sure that students, faculty and staff are attending school in a healthy environment. Then came COVID-19. Through countless hours of training, weekly testing, contact tracing, research, liaising with local pharmacies and volunteering to vaccinate thousands of people in and outside of the GA community, Lori worked tirelessly to help keep GA open during the pandemic. She participated in planning sessions with school leadership and outside experts to ensure the safety of everyone. Lori has done all of this in addition to the daily workload required of a school nurse and has been the engine keeping the entire GA machine moving forward in times of great fear and anxiety. Another hundred tests, another couple positive cases, another thousand emails to reply to, another terrified parent - she helped everyone with a smile and can-do attitude. Nurse Lori has been a beacon of hope and confidence for the entire GA community, and she continues to be a true warrior on GA’s front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jessica Golson '06
The year 2020 marked a turning point in alumni conversations about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Germantown Academy, and many of those conversations were spearheaded by Jessica Golson '06. She is a founding member of the Black Alumni Alliance at GA, working closely with the Alumni Office to better engage Black alumni and make connections with current Black families and students. In addition, she has worked hand in hand with Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760 to provide feedback and alumni perspective on the Equity, Inclusion & Action Plan for the school. Additionally, she has taken to the proverbial streets to organize a group of impassioned alumni to form the first ever Inter-Ac and Independent School Black Alumni Association (IISBAA). Founded in the fall of 2019, the mission is IISBAA is to “cultivate relationships; and leverage the resources talents, initiatives and social capital of alumni and friends to advise, guide, advocate for and support Black Inter-Ac and Independent School students”. (www.IISBAA.org). Asked about this work in a profile written for WHYY in the summer of 2020, she explained, “Giving these schools and opportunity to be accountable is an act of care. That means we believe they have the capacity to improve.” Coming from a mission driven family (her father, Gene Golson '76, received the Alumni Mission Award in 2019), Jessica continues to be an unyielding example of an alumna leading the charge to change hearts and minds.
Stephanie Lueckel, MD '96
As a child, Stephanie always wanted to be a doctor to "fix people." Having a mom with a heart condition cured by cardiac ablation, she was inspired to pursue a career in medicine. Currently, Stephanie is a trauma surgeon, critical care, and intensive care specialist at Rhode Island Hospital – Warren Alpert Brown Medical School, and has completed research receiving grants in various areas of trauma and is a sought-after speaker. Prior to her role at her current hospital, she spent months in the African country of Malawi collaborating not only with US doctors, but nurses and doctors native to Malawi to help those who needed care, saving lives in conditions that are unlike anything here in the Unites States. Her compassion catapulted her to care for as many of the sick as she could until she returned stateside to resume her career as a trauma surgeon. Now add in the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months, she practiced medicine caring for the acutely ill patients in certain “hot zones.” Being one of the few physicians with the knowledge of working the ventilators, Stephanie not only needed to treat patients, but also was elected to train hospital personnel on the use of these ventilators and the care regimen of all COVID cases. Always grounded, her work was highlighted in The Providence Journal where she insisted, “she’s nobody special – many ICU doctors are fighting the same battle.” She is a leader in all respects and does it with humility. Whether she is sewing up knife wounds or taking bullets from a stomach, caring for those with COVID, Stephanie puts everyone before herself and believes she is meant to save the patients with her knowledge, confidence, and compassionate spirit.
Helen Piszek Nelson '70
Helen Piszek Nelson '70 has lived a life committed to ensuring access to education, promoting international cultural connections, and cultivating lasting individual relationships. She has time and again demonstrated her commitment to education for the greater community through her service and philanthropic support. Being involved with the Community Partnership School (CPS) since its inception, Helen assisted with the concept and creation of the Edward and Olga Piszek Library. In addition, she has supported scholarships at both Dickinson College and Gwynedd Mercy University and worked to create a study abroad program at Delaware Valley University. Always one to step in and take action, her volunteer roles at several schools and institutions, such as the Ambler Theater, the Rodale Institution, and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, have inspired and impacted all those who have been lucky enough to work alongside her. Additionally, through her support of the GA Singing Patriots bi-annual trip to Poland she has introduced generations of students to the international stage and the importance of exploring other’s cultures. Helen’s generosity and positive outlook have reached far and wide, and she proudly perpetuates a continuous commitment to community spirit and the greater good.