Profile: Patrick Duffy, Jr.

Bachelor of General Studies, 1985
Lay pastoral minister, Little Brothers of the Gospel of
Charles de Foucauld, Managua, Nicaragua

Life Inside | “I’m called to live in the midst of and with the poor,” Duffy says. “It’s a life of insertion and being with rather than just being for. My vocation is inside the faith, but outside the box.”

Reality | More than halfway through a degree in business concentrating in real estate at the University of Cincinnati, Duffy read about St. Francis Xavier and realized his future did not lie in property sales. He transferred to Xavier and added a concentration in psychology to feed his growing interest in social work.

A Year to Remember | “I was living in a house with a couple buddies, and we came together around a priest who helped us discover prayer not in a churchy, geeky way, but in a real way. It was then I discovered there wasn’t a career program out there for me, and I was heading toward something different.”

Navajo Dreams | After working awhile in the mental health field,  Duffy took a job working with special needs children on a Navajo Indian reservation. “I fell in love with the Native American culture, their spirituality and working cross-culturally. I learned that’s how I wanted to spend my life.”

Comboni | After his father died of cancer, Duffy entered the seminary of the Comboni Missionaries in 1988. By 1992 he was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to finish his training. He chose Sao Paulo because the Church there is so committed to his dream—working with the poor and the street children.

Children of the Streets | “A real street kid has cut off his emotional connections with his family because there’s usually no father and there are too many kids. They opt for the streets and don’t go back. Our job was to reintegrate them with the family.”

Moment of Truth | As he lived among the people, Duffy felt called away from the traditional priesthood. “I discovered true Church in Brazil—doing services between the gunfire of drug dealers. But the people still showed up. As a priest I was going to be asked to do something else. I just didn’t fit into the box.”

Charles de Foucauld | Duffy returned to Cincinnati without taking his vows and read a book about Charles de Foucauld, a former Trappist monk who inspired people to live the gospel by working and living with the poor. He was so inspired, he joined the Little Brothers of the Gospel and moved back to Brazil to work with them as a Charles de Foucauld lay pastoral minister.

Living the Mission | Today, Duffy lives on the outskirts of Managua with his family, teaching scripture to students and holding workshops and retreats for teachers. His work is supported by a fundraising group he organized in 2006 in memory of his father called Partners In Mission Nicaragua. Its web site,, includes a blog Duffy writes about his work in the barrio.

Profile: Suzanne Kathman

Bachelor of Arts, 1990
Executive director, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries

Basic Questions | After graduating with a nursing degree in 1974, Kathman began a 21-year career in critical-care nursing. She spent the last 15 years in the open-heart intensive care unit. “I loved being a critical-care nurse, but somewhere in my 30s, I started to have some of the basic questions like, ‘What is the overall purpose of my life?’ I had the sense something was missing.”

A Shifted Focus | Soon she found her way to Xavier with the intent of earning a BSN. After taking electives in history, however, she shifted focus. For a particular class, she found herself spending a lot of time at the downtown Cincinnati library. “In the course of my presence there, I became very aware of the homeless people coming into the library. They were sitting in there to get out of the cold and were eating out of the garbage cans.”

The Right Place | “I had this movement started in me, and I wanted to do something about this situation.” She mentioned this to a friend at church who suggested she volunteer for Bethany House of Hospitality, a shelter for women and children run by the Sisters of Mercy. “I started volunteering there with the intent of only working a couple of hours each month, and I just felt like I was where I was supposed to be.”

The Right Time | At the same time, she began a separate journey with the Sisters of Mercy. “I felt very much like that was an extension of my family. It felt like I had come home to something that I didn’t know was missing. It was all part of that spiritual discernment. It led me to understand that my call was not to vow religious life, but I did feel called to become a Mercy associate, which entails making a covenant with the Sisters of Mercy to share in their prayer life, their ministry and their community.” Today, she lives in the community house with the sisters.

Making Connections | Kathman also volunteered with the Sisters of Mercy H.O.M.E. (House of Mercy Environment) program, which provides care to low-income seniors. After realizing that these seniors needed more than her once-a-week visits, she came up with the idea to train homeless or low-income women as homecare aides to provide the needed services and break the cycle of poverty. So, in 1993, she founded Healing Connections Associates to implement the nurse aide training program.

Merging Ministries | A few years ago, Kathman began talking to two other Sisters of Mercy ministries about the possibility of combining their efforts. Last April, Kathman led the merger of Healing Connections Associates, the Sisters of Mercy H.O.M.E. program and Mercy Connections into Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, of which she is the executive director.  “We couldn’t have been timelier in terms of economy when small non-profits really struggle to raise the resources that they need. We’ve become more efficient. We’ve become more effective. We’ve strengthened our ability to serve the needs of the community. It’s been a great experience.”

Profile: Bill Fuchs

Bachelor of Science-Business Administration, 1970;
Master of Health Administration, 1972
President of Group Operations, Catholic Healthcare
West Phoenix

A Big Net | As head of Catholic Healthcare West’s regional operation in Arizona, Nevada, and the southern and middle portions of California, Fuchs is responsible for 14 hospitals, 10 imaging centers, six ambulatory surgery centers, numerous joint ventures, 19,000 employees and annual net revenues of $2.5 billion.

Leaving Home | Fuchs, a St. Louis native, was originally in seminary studying for the priesthood when he began looking for a Catholic—preferably Jesuit—university outside his hometown to continue his education. “I had never heard of Xavier,”
he says. “I saw it on a map. It was a Jesuit university 400 miles away, and it sounded like a start. I liked it the moment we drove onto campus.”

Into the New | “It was a huge adventure to leave the seminary, go 400 miles away, know no one and immediately meet nice, impressive people in Brockman Hall. I entered Xavier as a sophomore, and I didn’t know anything. They would hustle me around and show me how to buy books or go to the cafeteria, things that we didn’t have to do in seminary. It was very, very exciting.”

Finding a Direction | By age 20, Fuchs discovered his life’s true calling. Xavier had one of the few accredited MHA programs in the nation at the time, but getting in was difficult. Fuchs credits former program chair Ed Arlinghaus with giving him the opportunity. “I’m very grateful for what Xavier did for me.”

Career Path | Fuchs did his MHA residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Dade County, Fla., where he remained for seven years following graduation. From there, he moved on to a 10-year association with the Hospital Corporation of America, where, among other duties, he served for a time as executive director of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer center in Tampa, Fla. He then moved again, this time for seven years as head of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, Ky., before launching the consulting phase of his career.

Taking the Reins | Fuchs joined Catholic Healthcare West seven years ago after several years as a consultant. Initially, he served as vice president of operations, working out of Pasadena, Calif., and overseeing seven hospitals. He moved into his current position six years ago.

Bleeding Blue | Fuchs is a lifelong supporter of Musketeer basketball—he hosted a dinner at his Camelback Mountain home for 100 Xavier alumni and fans following this year’s NCAA victory over West Virginia. But he says times have changed since his undergraduate days when the team drew maybe 1,500—all of them students—to home games. “The parking lot outside of Schmidt Fieldhouse held 20 cars and there would be maybe two cars for a game—and those were probably the referees’ cars.”

Profile: Dan Murphy

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1985
Founder and President, The Growth Coach

A Calling | Murphy’s goal is to append happy endings to Murphy’s Law—that if anything can go wrong, it will—particularly as it applies to small-business owners. He knows they face obstacles, so his mission is to help them clear their hurdles. “Small-business owners have always been my heroes. They have so much spirit and passion about them. I became a CPA thinking I would help these folks. What I learned is that most small-business owners feel overworked, overwhelmed and a prisoner to their business. That’s when I discovered my calling in life—to help them have greater success and put balance back in their lives.”

Coaching | In 1992, Murphy founded Sales Management Solutions, his own small business “coaching” other small-business owners on how to efficiently improve their business. In 1994, he changed the name to The Marketing Alliance and expanded its scope to focus on overall business coaching.

Big Picture | Harried small-business owners often get so caught up in the daily details of operating a company that they become slaves to routine and lose sight of their original concept of the enterprise. “A lot of owners get lost in the technical trenches of their business and don’t think enough about marketing, leadership and direction. The biggest problem is ‘busy-ness.’ They’re busy, but they’re busy working on the wrong things. We help them step back, see the big picture and recognize what changes need to be made. We don’t tell them what to do. We coach them to help them change their habits. We take them through a process so they can discover it on their own.”

Rapid Growth | In 2003, Murphy launched The Growth Coach, a business-coaching franchise system. He now has franchise owners in more than 150 markets. “Instead of coaching business owners, I now help coach my franchise owners to be more strategic, focused and effective—same thing I did for small-business owners for more than a decade.” Business coaching has skyrocketed into a $3 billion industry as more small-business owners turn to counselors for guidance. Murphy’s company has become the world’s second-largest business-coaching franchise and he has ambitious plans for even more growth. “My goal is to be in more than 400 markets in the next five years.”

Life Lessons | Murphy is also a coach in his personal life. He coaches the basketball, baseball, soccer and softball teams of his two children, Kelsey and Matthew. “Coaching is in my DNA. I love coaching their teams. I just love the life lessons you can teach kids through sports. I encourage them to always go out and give your very best effort and don’t worry about winning and losing. If you give your best effort, you are succeeding. I tell the kids they’re going to have setbacks—they’re going to strike out and make errors. But what’s important is your reaction to them. Learn what you can from the situation and then go on. Learning how to win and lose with grace is a big lesson. There are life lessons all around us.”

Designer Tea

Danielle DiBenedetto, a North Olmstead, Ohio, native and 2003 graduate, always knew she wanted to do something with graphics, but she also wanted to work in fashion. Inspired by the Victorian Era, the former art student researched this period and often came across the subject “proper tea etiquette.” Subsequently, in 2007 she launched Proper Tea Wear, a specialty line of T-shirts, cami sets and scarves packaged in oversized tea bags. 

“I decided on Proper Tea because in my generation, proper attire is a T-shirt,” she says. “I thought it was the best way to showcase not only the fashion line, but give me the chance to put my art into it.”

In addition to art, DiBenedetto selects the fabric, designs the fit and works with a company in India that custom-makes the T-shirts to her specifications. “It’s a cutthroat industry, so I have to go with the best of the best, and everything has to be perfect because, being a graphic designer, everything is presentation.”

The T-shirts, made from super soft prewashed cotton, come in an assortment of tea “flavors,” ranging from raspberry to iced mint to calming chamomile. So far, the line sells in about 150 boutiques across the country, as well as Nordstrom and Las Vegas casinos such as The Bellagio, MGM Grand and The Palms.

DiBenedetto, who works closely with her mom, Karen, hopes to add a men’s and children’s line in the next few years. In the meantime, though, she’s happy to see her work getting nods from both local and national press.

“The best thing about running my own business is the creative freedom, she says. “I enjoy hearing people’s advice but, in the end, I love being able to create a T-shirt from concept to the finished product and have complete control of how I want it to look. It is amazing to create a label and see it in stores the way you envision it.”

To see more Tea wear, visit

Cold Cuts: Dead or Alive

Russ Donaldson has seen the facial expressions and heard all the jokes. But while others may find it odd that that the 1987 mortuary science graduate and longtime funeral director now owns a catering service, Donaldson sees it as part of a continuum.

“There are so many similarities between the funeral business and catering,” he says. “They’re both service-oriented businesses. It’s event planning. As a funeral director, it’s a little different kind of an event, but you are sitting down with families and planning what’s going to happen. It’s the very same thing with catering. You’re sitting down and choosing things, making selections. It’s sales. It’s presentation.”

Not to mention that both fields have interested Donaldson for the best part of his life. The Philadelphia native developed an interest in mortuary science around age 12, but soon also began thinking about becoming a chef. These interests intertwined during his college years—while at Xavier, Donaldson worked in the cafeteria at Edgecliff College.

Following graduation, Donaldson apprenticed in Columbus, Ohio, before settling in for 13 years at a funeral home in Cincinnati. But he kept in touch with the catering business, working as a banquet extra at a large hotel and assisting a local caterer. Eventually, he decided to reexamine his approach to life—and ultimately enrolled in culinary school. Then, in 2004, he joined forces with 1977 Xavier graduate Dennis Ferry and a third partner who has since moved on, to form Cuisine East-West Catering, which focuses on Asian and Asian-fusion dishes. Relying strictly on word-of-mouth, the company has grown steadily and recently purchased its own building.

But in keeping with his interests, Donaldson still occasionally fills in for vacationing funeral directors. “One of the major things that draws someone to become a funeral director is the need and desire to help other people,” he says.

Changing Lives

Calling Rhonda Gillian-Smith a non-traditional student is something of an understatement. By the time she came to Xavier to study for her master’s degree in human resource development in 2002, she was 20 years into a career as a union pipefitter. During her undergraduate days, she would arrive on campus at the College of Mount Saint Joseph in a hardhat and pickup truck, then change into school clothes.

Sure, Gillian-Smith knew it was unusual. But she also knew it would one day make for a good story. And that she would be a good one to tell it.

Somewhere during her pipefitting days, she came to realize that she had a gift for storytelling and the value of oral traditions in helping others make sense of the world. Wanting to help others and seeking a creative outlet, Gillian-Smith began telling stories to the children in her neighborhood. Soon, that expanded to local schools and then to performing a one-woman show—“Freedom Acts: Voices of Freedom Sisters,” which focuses on seven female freedom fighters of the 1960s—at museums, festivals and other venues.

That later led to an active role in shaping “Freedom’s Sisters,” a traveling exhibition that is a joint project between the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Smithsonian Institution. The project examines the lives and contributions of 20 African-American women in the Civil Rights Movement.

But Gillian-Smith also recognized the need to learn philosophical and theoretical basics for storytelling, so she enrolled in night classes. After graduation, she still had questions, so she headed first to Xavier, then to Miami University, where she worked as an adjunct in the department of educational leadership and completed her doctorate this summer.

But immersion in academia has not kept Gillian-Smith from doing the thing she loves most—telling stories. And though technology has changed the way messages are delivered, Gillian-Smith says oral transmission from one generation to another is as important as ever—maybe more.

“I’m presenting stories, and listening and teaching others to reduplicate the nuggets of information,” she says. “This was the way knowledge was shared for centuries but we’ve let that go. Telling stories returns the human side to it.”

B&B Dreams

When folks stay at a bed and breakfast, they often wonder what it would be like to operate one. Dave Meade and his wife, Nadine Hermann, were two of those people. Unlike most B&B guests, though, Dave and Nadine decided to do more than dream about it.

“My wife had a desire to operate a B&B for 20 years,” says Meade, a 1971 MBA graduate and business consultant. “After our youngest child got out of college, we thought that would be a good time to try it.” The couple spent a year researching 300 B&Bs from Maine to North Carolina before buying the Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast, an 1865 Victorian stone mansion with six guest rooms on a tree-lined street in the University City district of Philadelphia.

They extensively renovated the home and went out of their way to make themselves gracious, attentive hosts to their guests—many of them professionals visiting the nearby University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. And their work and dedication paid off. While the national occupancy rate for B&Bs is 42 percent, Cornerstone’s rate is more than 70 percent, and revenue has grown 270 percent in the five years they’ve owned it.

“It is very profitable,” says Meade.

There are, of course, some down sides.

“Ninety-eight percent of our guests are absolutely wonderful,” says Meade. “Most are highly educated and astute. But, you occasionally run into some difficult situations. Most guests don’t have a car with them and someone’s luggage can be lost by an airline and it arrives at 3:00 a.m. You basically have to be available around the clock. It is a 24/7 job. My wife is up at 5:30 a.m. cooking breakfast.”

While the pair intended to keep running the B&B a few more years, health issues with Nadine’s parents forced the couple to put it up for sale this summer. “It’s hard to keep this kind of business going at the level you want when you have family health issues,” says Meade. “The B&B has been a great experience, though. For the right kind of people, it’s a wonderful thing. But, when you give it your all, you have to be careful you don’t get burned out because you’re working so hard at it.”

Alternative Art

Bernadene Zennie lives in a healthy world. Or two worlds, actually. By day, she’s a psychiatric nurse at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. By day off, she operates a trio of intriguing private counseling practices—parent rescue, mind-body counseling and energy healing.

While her first job is more traditional and earns her praise for helping children, it’s her second job that draws the most attention. To some, her alternative practices are the perfect new-age antidote for what ails them. For others, it’s a strange world that draws stares and skepticism. Zennie simply laughs at their leeriness.

“One of the most dramatic healings I ever had was from a skeptic,” she says. “She sprained her ankle. I asked her if she would like to try a healing. Two days later her ankle was healed. She said, ‘This is wild. I was a complete skeptic.’ ”

Zennie approaches her practices from both the practical and academic standpoints, earning a solid background for both thanks to a 1995 nursing degree and a 2002 master’s degree in community counseling.

Her graduate degree is particularly helpful in her latest project, helping parents with child-rearing issues. “I can go into your home, observe and suggest how to better manage your children’s behavior,” she says. “For example, toddler temper tantrums are almost always managed by ignoring them. If a child learns that when parents say ‘no,’ they really mean ‘maybe,’ then the parents are in for a horrible time.”

Her mind-body counseling practice involves how thoughts, feelings and behavior affect physical health. “Stress, for instance, is how we react to the world around us. How we react can affect our health for good or ill. A mind-body counselor helps a person figure out if anything happening in their lives has exacerbated their physical problems or is the seminal event that began their problems.”

There are numerous facets of energy healing, she says. “I don’t know how it works,” she says. “All I know is that I do these things and a large amount of the time, healing happens.” It’s not important whether people believe in energy healing or not, she says. “Keeping an open mind, that’s the key,” she says. “I decided to suspend my disbelief when I went into energy healing. When people are truly open, that’s when healing can happen.”

Accounting for Fraud

A lousy economy means good business for Robert Kramer. And right now, business is booming. Kramer is in the fairly new occupation of “forensic accountant.” You may not have heard of it, but Kramer says you soon will. 

When the economy falls, fraud rises, and Kramer says that means more forensic accountants like him are needed to detect illegal schemes. A forensic accountant has the auditing skills to analyze financial dealings, the investigative skills to detect fraud and the legal skills to help a prosecutor make it stick in court.

“Forensic means anything to do with the courts,” says Kramer, a 1975 MBA graduate. “To be a forensic accountant you have to have an accounting background, but you have to be more forceful than a regular accountant.

“All accountants can add 2 and 2 and get 4, but many are not ‘people’ persons. When interviewing people, they look down at their notes and miss the body language of the person being interviewed. You’ve got to read body language and note when somebody starts slumping or looking away. You’ve got to know when to press someone and when to back off. When you know money is missing, you don’t ask, ‘Did you take the money?’ You look in their eyes and say, ‘Hey, I know you took the money. What did you do with it?’ ”

Kramer worked more than 30 years with the U.S. justice, treasury and defense departments and is now with the forensic accounting firm of Johnson, Cambra & Libbert in Cincinnati.

“Nobody offered fraud awareness 10 years ago,” says Kramer. “Now it’s needed because fraud is growing into an epidemic. Big fraud at places like Enron and Adelphia makes people’s jobs and retirement funds disappear. There are thousands of fraud cases that don’t get much publicity. There’s no question fraud increases as the economy worsens. The Internet has really given
impetus to a lot more fraud.”

Kramer relishes investigating a particular type of fraud. “I’m working on a couple of local cases where school systems had money embezzled,” he says. “The school board had to lay off teachers and curtail extracurricular activities. I love working on these cases and catching those people. That really turns me on.”