Past Recipients of the Ladies of Charity Spes Unica Award

Headshot of Laura Schroff smiling
Laura Schroff

2023 Laura Schroff, a New York Times and international best selling author and keynote speaker who was born and raised on Long Island is a passionate and compelling voice on the power of small acts of kindness and mentorship. Through her book, An Invisible Thread Young Readers Edition (ages 8-12), An Invisible Thread Christmas Story (ages 4-8) and Angels on Earth, Laura has committed to advocate and inspire others to opening up their eyes and hearts to the opportunities where they can make a difference in the lives of others. As a keynote speaker at over 200 events and 100 schools, Laura encourages her audience to look for their own individual thread connections.  An invisible thread brings to life the inspiring true story of an 11 year old panhandler, a busy sales executive and their unlikely meeting with destiny in 1986.


Pat Shea

2019 Patricia Shea  is the Founder and  Executive Director of Mommas House that began in 1986 with a home in Malverne, NY offering support to young mothers (ages 18-24) and their babies. Providing physical shelter and a stable environment, young mothers are nurtured and taught to provide child care and parenting skills while encouraged to obtain schooling and job training. 

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald

2018 Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald, C.S.J.  is the executive Director of Hour Children.  She began its founding in 1989 at the convent where she lived when she became a volunteer foster parent to eight children of incarcerated mothers. In 1996, Hour Children became a 501 (c)(3) organization to offer supportive services to other children of incarcerated mothers and the mothers themselves.

Susan Gordan Ryan

2017 Susan Gordon Ryan
A graduate of St. John’s University and a special education teacher, Susan used her personal and professional experiences to found the unique and innovative “Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged.” She was the first woman to serve as the director of the New York State Long Island Park System.  Her work in the not-for-profit sector included government relations, special events and fundraising for UCP of Suffolk and major gifts fundraising at Abilities, Inc., Albertson, NY.

Sr. Margaret John Kelly

2016 Sr. Margaret John Kelly, D.C., Ph.D.
An expert on governance, ethics and Vincentian history, mission and charism, she pioneered the establishment of mission services for health institutions and in higher education.  A member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Sr. Margaret John was the founder and Executive Director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s University. She served as the spiritual moderator of the Association of the Ladies of Charity at St. John’s from its inception in 2009 until her retirement in 2015.

Roseanne Haggerty

2015 Rosanne Haggerty
Realizing that the solution to end homelessness humanely and economically lay in using communities, Roseann’s efforts focused on strengthening networks of local organizations to solve problems together.  In 2011 she founded Community Solutions, a national organization that leads local innovation through collaboration.

Mary Mulvihill

2014 Mary Mulvihill, Ed.D. – A devoted educator at St. John’s and Fordham Universities and a dynamic leader in fundraising and program development, Mary has served as the executive director of Grace Institute and Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center.  She has led the way in the effort to help struggling people help themselves.