Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J.
Provincial, Detroit and Chicago Provinces of the Society of Jesus
Former President, St. Ignatius High School
Former Board Member, Beaumont School

With the changing landscape of Catholic education today, there is a significant need for the services provided by SDG Advisors. I have seen the effectiveness of Sr. Ritamary and Stacey’s work first-hand at Beaumont School, and I am confident that they have the right skill sets and fresh ideas to help Catholic schools find the best practical solutions to fulfill their mission. I admire their commitment to Catholic education and know that they will bring value to their clients.


Brother Ron Luksic, SM
Director of Admissions
Archbishop Moeller High School
Cincinnati, OH


During the 2011-2012 school year we worked with SDG to do a review of our admissions program. Both Stacey and Sister Ritamary conducted a very thorough and professional review. They were able to adapt their program to meet our needs and gave us a very comprehensive assessment with recommendations. The report they gave to our Board and Administrative Team was excellent and well received. Everyone involved at our school felt that the consultation was one that affirmed many of the positive things we were already doing, and helped us set some goals for continued improvement.


Bill Hunt
President
Archbishop Moeller High School
Cincinnati, OH

From the very beginning of the process, Stacey and Sr. Ritamary lent a certain calm and professionalism to the work ahead. They were excellent with our focus group constituents, requesting and receiving very specific feedback. Combined with some institutional survey results, they were able to synthesize all of the information into a very presentable and usable document of findings and recommendations. The final report was well received by several of our various school constituencies and I do believe that it will help raise the awareness of some of the primary factors we need to consider as we move forward in the overall management of our enrollment efforts.


Brett Chmiel
Director of Admissions
Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School
Dayton, Ohio

SDG Advisors played a pivotal role in helping discover what was truly unique about our school. Stacey and Ritamary took the time to meet and work with our president, principal, board members and faculty on separate occasions. They showed great flexibility when it came to meeting the needs of our school timeline. SDG put forth a great deal of effort to understand what our community was like. Because of this, they were able to develop an in depth individual strategy that was best for us.


Dan Meixner
President
Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School
Dayton, Ohio

Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School engaged SDG Advisors in 2009 to conduct a market analysis and help us develop a comprehensive student recruitment strategy. Throughout the project, Sister Ritamary Welsh and Stacey Picard sought to deeply understand our school, markets, potential, and people, using both quantified and qualified data. Their insights and advice helped us shape an assertive recruitment strategy, leading to a 30% increase in the number of enrolled students in the first year of implementation – now matched in our second year of implementation. We have continued our relationship following the completion of the initial report, and we have found their guidance and wisdom to be essential for the continuing strengthening of our recruitment program.


Tina Wagoner
Communications Coordinator
Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School
Dayton, Ohio

In creating and composing marketing and outreach materials for Chaminade Julienne, I have always appreciated SDG's reinforcement of keeping our message clear and focused. I can always count on Sr. Ritamary and Stacey providing us with great feedback in keeping our materials sharp and to the point. They know us and our community well. Their perspective of our audience helps us effectively connect with like-minded families who would be a great fit for our school community.


Margaret Mary Lyons
Superintendent
Office of Catechetical Formation and Education
Diocese of Cleveland

The Office of Catholic Education, now the Office for Catechetical Formation and Education appreciates the professional assistance that SDG Advisors provide for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Cleveland in forming boards, developing budgets, marketing, and fundraising. As they state: “Your mission is our mission.” That sums up the intensity and direct assistance that Stacey Picard and Sister Ritamary Welsh, OSU have made the hallmark of their partnership as SDG Advisors. They have taken the best practices from their own experience and research and helped many of our schools successfully progress into the area of boards and marketing.


Fr. John D. Betters
Pastor
SS. Robert & William Catholic Parish
Euclid, Ohio

As a parish school in an inner ring suburb, just completing a parish merger I reached out to SDG to help us develop a strategic marketing plan and development plan for our school. I could not be more pleased with the plan they developed. The plan and the instructions to implement it were clear and useful to our particular situation. They truly listened to all of our stakeholders and created a plan accordingly. SDG’s commitment to Catholic Schools and their vision is truly forward thinking and will help sustain schools for years to come.


Thomas M. Maher, Ph.D.
Chair, St. Benedict Catholic School Board

Special Assistant to the President, Trinity High School
Chairman of the Board, Marymount Health Care Systems
Cleveland, Ohio

From the perspective of a veteran chairperson of several non-profit boards in Northeast Ohio, I have been consistently impressed with SDG Advisors’ leadership, preparation and training throughout the process of creating St. Benedict Catholic School and forming its new Board. Thanks to SDG, we begin our first school year with enthusiasm for our mission and our leadership ministry.


Father Thomas Haren
Pastor
St. Monica Parish
Garfield Heights, Ohio

When we were looking to begin the process of starting a new school from our present schools of St. Monica’s and St. Martin of Tours, we talked to SDG. Both Sr. Ritamary and Stacey were very helpful in this two year process. They guided us from the beginning until the end in a very professional manner. I do not believe that our new school, St. Benedict Catholic School, would have been a success without their help. We are indebted to SDG, and thank them for their expert assistance.


Father Lou Miola
Pastor
St. Martin of Tours Parish
Maple Heights, Ohio

SDG Advisors provided one of the most cooperative and productive efforts that I have been involved with personally in helping form a vision and in the development and execution of a plan that was educational and pastorally sensitive. The plan was carried out in a manner that respected the questions and the concerns of the participants. The process bridged the communities and helped them realize the best possible outcome for sustaining Catholic education and the Gospel of Jesus in our area.


Father Bob Franco
Pastor
St. Peter Parish
North Ridgeville, Ohio

SDG Advisors provided invaluable help in forming our School Advisory Council. Their expertise and insights gave our fledgling Advisory Council direction and vision.


Sister Patricia Vovk, SND
Principal
St. Peter School
North Ridgeville, Ohio

Our Cluster parishes had a goal: a vibrant Catholic school in the city of North Ridgeville.

SDG Advisors came to our aid in this endeavor. Sister Ritamary Welsh, OSU and Stacey Picard assisted us in the formation of our current St. Peter School Advisory Council. Their knowledge of people skills, parish operations as well as their professional expertise got us to the point of membership, orientation, and successful operation of the SAC during the past year. In practical terms this means our enrollment continues to grow, our programs have expanded our strategic plan is coming together and our financial development is on the way. I recommend SDG Advisors to every parish that would like to keep and grow a vibrant, Catholic school!


Mr. Sal Miroglotta
President
Lake Catholic High School
Mentor, Ohio

We brought SDG Advisors in to help restructure our Board of Advisors. What impressed me was their ability to give us a really good system that we were able to share with our board members.

SDG helped us see what we were trying to do in terms of defining our vision. They provided helpful documents that were beautifully organized. We could then put our mark on them and personalize according to our needs. In terms of board committee structure, they helped me focus on the kind of person we wanted to attract who would serve the school well. They are good at establishing the profile of an ideal board member and honing in on what specific skills are needed.

With the exception of meeting with our board at the summer workshop, SDG worked behind the scenes. They have a good image and are organized and informed. Their background with Catholic education was important to us and our board. They were good at identifying with the audience.

Sr. Ritamary and Stacey produce an instant credibility and inspire confidence. They are very non-threatening and have excellent people skills when it comes to talking with our staff, board members and others. They present options and clearly communicate what we’re about.

We’ve been working with them since January, and they’re now helping to boost our annual fund. Our contract with them concludes in December. Lake Catholic is a strong school that has not used consultants in the past, but in this case, it was clear there was an expertise we could tap that would be to our benefit.


Mr. James F. Geronimo, Esquire
Former Chair of the Board of Trustees
Villa Maria Elementary School
Erie, PA

We engaged SDG Advisors to do a Board review and strategic marketing plan. The bottom line is to secure our school as a self-sustaining organization. Sr. Ritamary and Stacey helped us restructure our Board of Trustees from an Advisory Board to one with a corporate structure, and they assisted us in forming committees and defining the role of each committee. Their recommendations to streamline the administrative process have made the school’s operations more efficient.

Overall, their approach is very hands-on. They’re inviting, inclusive and non-confrontational. They are very good at analyzing numbers and at getting in up to their elbows when it comes to talking to everyone involved to get a complete understanding. They identified what we’re doing right and applauded those efforts, and they also told us what we’re doing wrong and how to fix those areas. They go even farther by telling us what rewards we should see, and they back that up with their experience with other clients.


Mr. Brian Menard
Past President
Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School
Cleveland, Ohio

I came on board as president in the middle of the 2008-2009 school year, and Sr. Ritamary and Stacey were indispensable to me as I got up and running with very little lead time. As I assumed this new position, I needed to bring under control a number of elements to effect broad culture change on and off campus.

SDG Advisors helped me prioritize first steps in order to map out a strategy for how to change the school’s direction. They were professional in their demeanor, sympathetic, reassuring and supportive. Their skill set is deep and adaptable to conform to a client’s needs, from the smallest issues to the largest and highest priorities.

There was no advisory board when I came. SDG gave me the support I needed to recruit and structure an effective and engaged board. I also had some issues to address with our administration, and our development program needed to be taken to a higher level. SDG helped me untie the administrative mess, restructure it and take the proper steps to accomplish our goals.

Sr. Ritamary and Stacey were able to provide the right kind of support that I needed. It was not dictatorial but in a style that conformed to my needs. They knew how to build on my strengths and provide help where I didn’t have in-house support. They also envision what the future of a Catholic school should look like, and they understand that each Catholic institution is individual in and of itself.

Sr. Ritamary and Stacey are a good team in that each brings separate skills to the table. Together, they are spectacular. Their communication with the client and with each other is good, and they understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Over the months, my needs and the way I’ve worked with SDG have evolved. At first, each step had the potential to explode. They had the tools to help plot the course that overcame the challenges, and we have been able to make incredible progress institutionally. I owe a lot of that to SDG.

Our first board orientation was a big event for the school, and Sr. Ritamary and Stacey shepherded us to have the right leadership in place to work effectively with the administration. In addition to having great skills, abilities and passion for helping Catholic schools, Sr. Ritamary and Stacey are great people and a delight to work with.


Sr. Anne Maline, SND
Director, Metro Catholic School
Cleveland, Ohio

Stacey worked closely with us during the launch of our capital campaign. She gave us strong financial advice which was clear and direct. Our Development Director said that she was amazed at how easy it was to follow Stacey’s suggestions. It is also an easy task to track additional income that has come because of these suggestions.

Stacey is always careful not to be pushy. She gives good suggestions and is very open and broad-minded. She is also willing to bring in others to lend their advice.

Stacey is highly skilled and well educated. With her experience, Stacey could have made more money in the corporate world, however, she chose to work at Beaumont School where she was extremely committed to its mission.

Stacey believes that Catholic education provides students with the values to be successful. She loves our school and is very appreciative of the work that Catholic education is doing to help poor families break out of poverty.

She is very affirming of what we have accomplished and challenges us to think outside the box. She is also effective at encouraging educators to think of things from a business perspective. Our school has benefited from her advice and presence, and I’m very grateful to her.

I think very highly of the combined team of Stacey and Sister Ritamary and their commitment to Catholic education.


Sister Margaret Frank, SSJ
Past Director of Advancement
Villa Maria Elementary School
Erie, PA

We hired SDG Advisors to do a strategic plan, and they were very professional and easy to work with. Before making recommendations, they thoroughly evaluated our current situation, asked us knowledgeable questions and reviewed all of our existing marketing materials.

Sr. Ritamary and Stacey came back with an excellent presentation to our board, and were straightforward about praising the things we’re doing well and suggesting things that we need to tweak or improve. They surveyed our various constituencies, and the responses were very positive, reconfirming our need for more marketing. They also did a detailed analysis of our demographics to see where our students are coming from since we’re not a diocesan school.

What I really liked about SDG was their positive approach. They identified areas that were missing from our marketing plan and gave us fresh, new ideas. They made us aware of the importance of publicizing the school’s good news and stories to our key audiences through the local media, our website and other vehicles. We’re more professional and keenly aware of our marketing efforts because of the help we received from Sr. Ritamary and Stacey.

Schools are hesitant to make a significant investment in marketing, but I believe it is extremely important for schools to find those dollars and invest in the future of our students.


Joan Agresta
Principal
St. Anselm School
Chesterland, Ohio

SDG Advisors helped us on many issues and provided valuable feedback on our program and challenges. We were impressed especially with the detailed marketing program they totally mapped out and offered to us. It was right on target--an incredibly useful tool.


Sharon Vejdovec
Principal
Holy Spirit Academy
Bedford, Ohio

Holy Spirit Academy is a merged elementary school that has been experiencing enrollment challenges. We have a limited staff but know that we need to pursue new marketing ideas.

We partnered with SDG Advisors to develop a Marketing Plan for the school. We established an internal, four-person marketing committee and met with Sr. Ritamary and Stacey several times. They came back to our committee with a written report and formal presentation. This process pushed us to move forward with a number of the proposed ideas.

Although we struggle with limited financial resources to implement marketing initiatives, we have benefitted from the fact that the recommendations came from a legitimized outside source. Sr. Ritamary and Stacey have a real working knowledge of a school setting and gave us practical suggestions. They helped hone in on what would be most effective and prioritized things for us.

I appreciate the fact that Sr. Ritamary and Stacey have called to follow up and check in. It’s reassuring to know we still have a connection, and I feel comfortable knowing I can call them when I need a sounding board.


Jean Takacs
Major Initiatives Manager
Epiphany Management Group
Akron, Ohio

I have always been impressed with the creativity and dedication of SDG Advisors in assisting schools and parishes plan for the future. They build a trusting relationship with their clients through their on-going communication and consistency in following a specific timeline to accomplish a goal. Sr. Rosemary and Stacey are a great team! I would recommend them to anyone looking for assistance in meeting the challenges of planning a future. It is money well spent.


Sister Moira Sullivan, SSJ
Leadership Team - Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Erie, PA

The primary reason we invited Sr. Ritamary and Stacey to meet with us was because our high school, Villa Maria Academy, could possibly have benefited from their involvement as our situation was similar to their past experience where they successfully confronted and resolved some very basic issues/problems.

Sr. Ritamary and Stacey were very helpful to our constituencies in understanding the various layers of leadership in relation to our schools as well as their responsibilities.

One of the things I found most impressive about them is that they are attentive listeners. This quality is ‘key’ to working with anyone, and in our situation, it was very important. I had the sense that they treat each project as unique. They were clear about what was needed or what was being asked.


Anne Unverzagt
Past Director, Sloat Foundation
Cleveland, Ohio

This is a phenomenal combination of experience and expertise. Sr. Ritamary did a fabulous job at Beaumont School. As a grantor, I found her to be an excellent grantee and administrator. She is a great example of how to run a Catholic school.

Although I’ve only known Stacey for a short time through an advisory board, she is terrific. The fact that she makes complicated financial matters sound simple and translatable is an incredible gift for someone in consulting. Stacey is extremely skilled at managing finances as well as explaining things easily.

They have a combination of talents and the belief that goes with that. They firmly believe in Catholic education and know it can work. They offer an outstanding range of services, and they’re not just in the consulting business to make money. They really want to help the schools, and that’s the extra edge for them. They have the complete picture of the educational and business aspects of running a school, plus the faith.

They are both extremely personable and exude confidence. It’s a pleasure to work with them, and I could not recommend them more. I would think that any school would be fortunate to have their services.



Peggy Connell
Former Principal of Beaumont School
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

There are six points I’d like to share about Sr. Ritamary and Stacey Picard.

First, they understand what a team is, and they work very well together. They know how to guide others in building a team. For example, Stacey worked closely with Beaumont’s maintenance staff to develop them as a team.

Second, they’re very thoughtful in their approach to a project. They are very thorough in research and knowledgeable about finance. They fully understand the president-principal model of leadership as well as a religious community’s sponsorship of a school. They understand the laws and finances peculiar to non-profits.

They are also very clear in the presentation of a project -- they effectively use technology as an aid to clarify key points.

Third, they view issues and problems from various perspectives. They can walk in someone else’s shoes and think from another’s perspective. They are also, in a discussion or planning session, able to draw out the participants’ perspectives.

Fourth, they have excellent articulation skills. When they’re conducting a group session, they’re able to summarize what they hear, lead discussions and get all points on the table. They clearly explain policies, procedures and directions with an enthusiasm that encourages people to get on board.

Fifth, they’re personable. They relate well to people, and it’s easy for others to relate to them.

Sixth, they’re honest, respectful and mission-driven.



Sister Angelita Zawada, OSU (1943-2011)
Former President of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland
Pepper Pike, Ohio

On Sr. Ritamary Welsh, OSU:

I’ve known Ritamary as part of the Ursuline community for more than 40 years and have watched her in many ministries. If she says she’s going to do something, she’ll do it.

She has a great gift for finding new answers to old questions. She knows how to launch a project -- putting together a master plan with all the steps needed to bring that project to a successful conclusion.

She’s a delightful person to work with and has more ‘sticktuitiveness’ than super glue. She really doesn’t give up on a project. When she sets her mind to something, it happens.

She comes with a great deal of expertise in fundraising as well as an understanding of the inner workings of parishes, grade schools and high schools.

On Stacey Picard:

I’ve known Stacey through Beaumont School for the past three years. She has a great understanding of financial intricacies. While we served on Beaumont’s Finance Committee together, Stacey demonstrated the ability to organize complex financial data in such a way that it can be understood by a non-financial person.

On Ritamary and Stacey as a Team:

Together, Ritamary -- with her practical expertise -- and Stacey -- with financial expertise – make an outstanding team. They work well in a consulting setting as an on-site team to effectively work through an institution’s challenges and issues.

They have the ability to take a project through to completion and know how to ask the difficult questions. They’re not afraid to explore new possibilities on how to answer those difficult questions.

 


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