American Graduate: Stories of Champions Recognition Event

American Graduate Champions commit their time, skills and resources to make sure that young people succeed.  

At the Stories of Champions Recognition Event, ideastream honored 4 American Graduate Champions: Marc Stefanski, President and CEO of Third Federal Savings & Loan; Judge Michael John Ryan of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division; Christine Alexander, MD of MetroHealth; and Andrea Gale from Lincoln-West High School. The event includes speeches from Marc Stefanski and Linda Williams, ideastream’s Senior Director of Education, followed by a lively panel discussion with all four champions, moderated by ideastream’s Senior Host/Producer Rick Jackson. 

Honored Champion Videos

American Graduate Champion: Marc Stefanski

Marc Stefanski is the Chairman and CEO of Third Federal Savings & Loan. Under Mr. Stefanski’s tenure, Third Federal has seen continual growth as the dominant home mortgage lender in Ohio, as well as growth in the Florida market. However, it’s Mr. Stefanski’s philanthropic work outside the corporate world that make him an American Graduate Champion. Mr. Stefanski’s vision and leadership have helped to establish numerous mentorship and tutoring programs in Cleveland’s low-income Slavic Village neighborhood, which have positively impacted neighborhood families and children as they progress from preschool to high school graduation, and beyond.

American Graduate Champion: Judge Michael J. Ryan

Judge Michael J. Ryan is the second, and youngest, African American male to be elected Judge for the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division. As a student, Judge Ryan was raised in an exceptionally challenging home environment in the city of Cleveland. He was on the verge of dropping out of high school; however, despite these deplorable conditions, Judge Ryan beat the odds and graduated from high school, college, and law school with the drive to succeed where others had failed. Judge Ryan is an active volunteer and mentor in the Cleveland area, who strives to impart the positive impact of having a caring and consistent adult in the lives of young people. He also served as the keynote speaker at a large American Graduate conference for the community in March 2016.

American Graduate Champion: Dr. Christine Alexander

Dr. Christine Alexander has been a physician with the MetroHealth System since 1997, where she currently serves as Department Chair, Family Medicine and Director, Maternal/Neonatal Services. Dr. Alexander has devoted her career to serving those who struggle with access to care through family system, cultural, language, and financial barriers. In an effort to provide medical care to community members, regardless of where they live, Dr. Alexander established MetroHealth’s school health program, which integrates a mobile health clinic vehicle into wrap around services provided by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  In addition to being dubbed a “miracle on wheels” by school district CEO Eric Gordon, the school health program provides primary care to children who are at risk of not receiving medical attention due to a lack of access. With parent/guardian consent, medical professionals care for children at school, during school hours, by providing routine check-ups and immunizations, in addition to helping manage chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. This program has saved families and hospitals thousands of dollars in clinic fees and has significantly helped to keep students in school, helping school attendance rates and reducing absenteeism. Referrals for additional services, including behavioral health, can be provided by the MetroHealth team on site.

American Graduate Champion: Andrea Gale

Andrea Gale is a dedicated educator with over 30 years of experience teaching in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She currently teaches English to non-native speakers at Lincoln-West High School. Through her mentorship, Ms. Gale’s students have developed an appreciation for their own cultures, values, and identities, while learning to adapt to life in the United States, Ohio, and the Cleveland area. Ms. Gale’s compassionate leadership led more than twenty of her students to share their challenges in ideastream’s American Graduate Storytelling Contest, where three were ranked as finalists and received scholarships and prizes for their efforts.

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