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The John Carroll University board of directors today announced changes to its board leadership, including the election of Nancy Cunningham Benacci, CFA, ’77, Retired Director of Equity Research at KeyBanc Capital Markets, as co-chair, and the election of Barbara O’Brien Brown ’82, Founder, BrownFlynn, and Retired Corporate Sustainability Service Lead, ERM, John Dempsey ’84, Principal, Vanderbilt Office Properties, and George Sample ’02, ’12G, Principal, Blue Streak Consultants, as vice chairs. 


Benacci was elected to the board in 2006, most recently serving as vice chair since 2020. She will now serve as co-chair of the board of directors alongside Bill Donnelly ’83, who has served as chair since 2019. Benacci also serves on the board of Cincinnati Financial Corporation, The Payden & Rygel Investment Group, and Regis Corporation. Donnelly is currently lead director at Ingersoll Rand, and a director of TRowe, Quanterix, and Element BioScience. Prior to his retirement, Donnelly was Executive Vice President of Mettler Toledo. 


From Left: President Miciak, Nancy Cunningham Benacci, John Dempsey, Barbara O’Brien Brown, George Sample, Bill Donnelly

“Our tremendous momentum as an institution is fueled by a board of directors who sees investment and growth as the path forward for John Carroll University,” said Alan R. Miciak, Ph.D., president. “I am so grateful to continue working with Nancy and Bill in their roles as co-chairs, and equally thankful to Barb, John, and George for stepping up as vice chairs.”

Our momentum is reflected in our three-year, $100 million investment in the student experience, the debut of our new College of Health, and more than $50 million in fundraising over the last two years. With first-year enrollment for the incoming class up 10 percent and triple the number of transfer students coming to campus next year, we believe the market is recognizing the quality and value of a John Carroll education.

John Carroll’s College of Health, anchored by a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and two state-of-the-art nursing labs, launched in 2023. The institution is also building a 100,000-square-foot Athletic, Wellness and Event Center opening in Winter 2025, and making significant enhancements to the Grasselli Library and Breen Learning Commons. Other recent renovations include a new-look D.J. Lombardo Student Center, new field turf for Wasmer Field, renovations to multiple residence halls, and enhancements to University-owned apartments on Fairmount Circle.


“As board members, we are proud to be stewards of this great institution and so pleased with the successes of this administration,” said Benacci and Donnelly. “In the face of significant headwinds in higher education, the work being accomplished by Al and his team is even more impressive. The John Carroll brand is increasingly being recognized nationwide for the quality of its education and the outstanding outcomes of its graduates. The investments we are making will ensure that the gift of a John Carroll University education is available to students for decades to come.” 


The board of directors also recently elected six new members:


  • Christopher Gessner, President and CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital
  • Irwin Haber, Chairman and Owner, The PDI Group 
  • Fr. Lukas Laniauskas, S.J., Pastor, Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH
  • Jim Moses, Senior Vice President, DFW Flight Operations, American Airlines
  • Ann O’Brien, Retired Health Care Executive
  • Dave Robinson, Retired Executive, Hospice of Michigan - JCU Alumni Association Board