Domers in the News

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

A black-and-white illustration of Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Raven with a touch of blue on her clothing.

As a charity Christmas gift-giving project in Virginia expanded, its organizer created an online wish list to invite additional support for the 200-plus children who had shared their notes to Santa. Many people contributed gifts, but no one sent more than a person named E.A. Raven. “They just kept coming,” Susan Thompson-Gaines told The Washington Post. “She granted wish after wish after wish.” Raven also donated many items to a food pantry Thompson-Gaines set up in her home — “the food people wanted, not only the food that people needed. You could just feel the care in what she picked.” To the community she blessed with her generosity, Raven was a mystery. Thompson-Gaines became “a bit obsessed” with finding out about her but discovered little. Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Raven ’76, ’78M.A., preferred her good deeds to be private. Living in South Bend, she had read about Thompson-Gaines in the Post and felt compelled to contribute. After her death in October at age 69, her siblings emailed Thompson-Gaines to explain why E.A. Raven would no longer be donating — thus solving the mystery of her identity. Raven was laid to rest at Notre Dame’s Cedar Grove Cemetery, the first person to have a green burial there. The environmentally friendly method involves no embalming and uses only biodegradable materials for interment. . . .

For biotechnology executive John Crowley ’92J.D., developing better treatments for rare diseases is both a professional and personal quest. Two of his children, Megan ’19 and Patrick, suffer from Pompe disease, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder. Crowley navigated scientific and business obstacles two decades ago to develop the first drug to treat Pompe patients, and in March he took on what The Wall Street Journal calls “his biggest role yet”: president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade group. Crowley, who had been vice chair of the organization’s board, decided he could bring his own experience to bear as its leader after a conference with rare-disease patients and advocates. “I used to say I have two hats. I have my biotech CEO or entrepreneur hat, and I have my dad hat,” Crowley told the conference audience. “And then I realized it’s really just one great big hat.” . . .

A black-and-white illustration of Admiral William Houston with a touch of blue on his clothing.

Admiral William Houston ’90 became the third current Notre Dame graduate to earn a four-star designation when he took command of the United States Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Promoted by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti in a January ceremony, Houston joins Admiral Christopher Grady ’84 and General Bryan Fenton ’87 among the military’s top brass. . . . As a Notre Dame law student, Kimberly Esmond Adams ’99J.D. advocated for a course on critical race theory, the study of how systemic racism has shaped public policy in areas such as employment, housing, education and healthcare. The subject has since become such a political hot button that she questions whether students today could win its incorporation into the curriculum. Adams reflected on the experience as part of her keynote address in January at South Bend’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. At the event, retiring Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., received the keys to the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka. Adams, a county superior court judge in Atlanta, said “politicians, not university professors” conflated critical race theory with “teaching grade-level students about the history of the nation to avoid dealing with the truth of this nation’s history,” the South Bend Tribune reported. She encouraged the audience not to expect a political figure to correct wrongs they perceive in society, but to take individual and collective action: “The someone for whom you have been waiting is the person you see in the mirror every morning.” . . . Terry McFadden ’83, ’89MCA, has been a South Bend fixture for decades as a local news anchor. As his February retirement from WNDU approached, he received a surprise visit and a gift from Joe Donnelly ’77, ’81J.D., the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Donnelly presented McFadden with a rosary from Fatima, Portugal, to be blessed by Pope Francis the following week. . . .

A black-and-white illustration of Cristal Brisco with a touch of blue on her clothing.

In January the U.S. Senate confirmed Cristal Brisco ’06J.D. as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. A St. Joseph County Superior Court judge since her appointment in 2021 by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Brisco was nominated by President Joe Biden in November. Previously a St. Joseph County magistrate judge, general counsel for Saint Mary’s College and corporation counsel for the city of South Bend, Brisco also serves on the executive advisory committee of the Notre Dame Law Association Board. . . . Longtime JetBlue executive Warren Christie ’88 was promoted in February to chief operating officer, assuming responsibility for the airline’s safety and security, flight operations, airports and inflight experience, as well as overseeing its training academy. With JetBlue for more than two decades, Christie has 35 years of aviation experience, including in the U.S. Navy where he served as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot and led training at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. . . . Daniel Kelly ’02, a Notre Dame professor of law since 2009, has been appointed dean at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, effective July 1. At Notre Dame, Kelly, a Harvard Law School graduate, directs the Law and Economics Program and serves as faculty director of the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate. . . .

A black-and-white illustration of Becca Blais with a touch of blue on her clothing.

Becca Blais ’18 became the first Notre Dame student honored as a Samvid Scholar, which recognizes graduate students for leadership and community support. The award covers up to $100,000 in graduate-level tuition and fees. A former Notre Dame student body president, Blais is pursuing an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She was also named to this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list for consumer technology, alongside her co-founder Nathán Goldberg of Bluebonnet Data, which trains those with coding and data science skills to volunteer for down-ballot political campaigns. Said Jeffrey Thibert, director of Notre Dame’s Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, who nominated Blais for the honor: “What’s impressed me even more is that she has always been an extraordinarily kind and compassionate person who keeps others at the center of her work. She exemplifies Notre Dame’s ideal of learning in service to justice.”

Illustrations by Emmett Baggett