Br. Hank Hammer, fms, President of Marist High School, presented Gerald ’90 and Jennifer Beeson and David Foley ’85 with the Laetare Medal at the President's Council dinner on Thursday, October 6, at Ridge Country Club.
The Marist Laetare Medal, meaning “to rejoice,” is the highest and most prestigious award given to an associate of Marist High School. It is presented to individuals committed to their Catholic faith and who are supportive of Marist High School. They must be individuals who are role models within their community, are devoted to their profession, and are dedicated to excellence in education.
“This year’s recipients represent the very best of Marist,” Br. Hank said. “Not just because they are generous, but more over because they embody the mission of Marist. They are helping our students to know and love Jesus Christ.”
Gerald Beeson is the chief operating officer of Citadel, and in that role, he is responsible for the global financial firm’s key corporate functions and is a member of Citadel’s portfolio committee. He is a trustee at DePaul University and a member of the School Board for Marist High School and the Board of Directors for Big Shoulders Fund. His wife, Jennifer, enjoyed a career as an educator, teaching at a number of Catholic elementary schools in the Chicagoland area. Today, she is a member of the Board of Directors for Big Shoulders Fund and actively leads the Beeson Scholars program.
The Beesons founded the scholars program in 2008, and since then the program has provided tuition funding, mentoring, and other support services to over 100 students at more than ten Catholic institutions, including Marist High School. Mrs. Beeson also leads their sponsorship of Saint Gall School through the Big Shoulders Fund Patrons Program. In 2004, the Beesons launched the Gregory Beeson Endowed Scholarship at Marist High School in loving memory of Gerald’s father, a 35-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. Over the past 12 years, more than 150 scholarships have been provided to the children of City of Chicago employees through this endowment. In 2007, the Beesons created the first of two endowed scholarship programs at DePaul University. The largest program, the Gerald & Jennifer Beeson Endowed Scholarship, provides financial assistance to high potential graduates of high schools from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Gerald, who spoke on behalf of his wife, noted his decision to attend Marist, and how the school “was the key that unlocked countless doors” for him. He recalled that while attending DePaul University on a scholarship he addressed a large group of the donors funding the scholarship. “Looking out at the 300 people plus in the room that day and meeting a number of them one on one afterwards, I became acutely aware immediately of how many people were enabling the opportunities I had seen along my journey to that point,” Gerald said. “From those early days, I made a personal vow that I would one day make the same opportunities available to others.”
Gerald credited his wife, Jennifer, for the success of the scholarship programs they run, admitting that while he is engaged in reviewing students’ grades and progress, “Jen has been the heart of these programs - visiting the school to meet the students, doing projects with them, and providing advice and extra assistance when needed. Jen makes it all work. Without a doubt, this is true of every other part of our lives as well,” he said.
“I am fortunate that Jen and I share a common view that life changing opportunity abounds at the intersection of personal determination and access to quality education and more importantly, that economic circumstance shouldn’t dictate that access,” Gerald said.
David Foley earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics from Northwestern University and received a Master of Business Administration with distinction from Harvard Business School. He joined The Blackstone Group in 1995, and has been responsible for building the Blackstone energy and natural resources practice, and has played an integral role in every private equity energy deal that the firm has invested in since then. Today, he is a senior managing director in the private equity group and chief executive officer of Blackstone Energy in New York.
In 2007, Foley established the Timothy and Kathleen Foley Scholarship that both honors his late parents and affords deserving students the opportunity to attend Marist High School. While his mother was still alive, she and David enjoyed meeting the beneficiaries of the scholarship and hearing about their Marist experiences. It is a tradition he continues to this day, including a visit Foley made to Marist the day of the awards dinner. Because of his generosity, 120 Marist students have been recipients of the scholarship, allowing them to enjoy the Catholic, college prep, coed experience the school provides.
Speaking to the group of Marist donors, he stated that the saying “the best things in life are free” is far from the truth. Foley expanded, noting the large sacrifice people make such as military service to the small ones in every day life. He spoke of seeing the sacrifice his own parents made in affording him the opportunity to attend Marist.
The three recipients were surprised to see one beneficiary from each of their scholarships at the dinner. Jake Doman and Kevin Hasenfang, both 2012 graduates, were in attendance. Hasenfang spoke to the audience, noting the incredible impact that people like the Beesons and Mr. Foley have on students’ lives. “When I look at my diploma from the University of Chicago I recently framed, I realize how many people were instrumental in helping me along the way,” Hasenfang said. “I hope that one day I can do that in return.” Doman said that having someone like Mr. Foley, who believed in him has had an enormous impact on his life. “It has given me the confidence to believe in myself throughout my high school and college career.”
This year’s recipients join 28 other esteemed Marist associates who have previously received this award. The president considers the advice of the School Board of Marist High School in selecting recipients.