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Anthony Holter to speak at ACE Commencement ceremony

2023 Commencement in the Leighton Concert Hall

Anthony Holter, the inaugural president of Empower Illinois, which seeks to expand educational access to low-income and working-class families, will serve as the keynote speaker at 2024 Commencement Ceremony of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday (July 13). 

“We are honored that Anthony will speak to our graduates,” said John Staud, the executive director of ACE. “He has dedicated his professional life and energy to the advancement of Catholic education in multiple ways, first as a middle-school teacher, then as a professor preparing school leaders, and for the past decade as a passionate advocate to increase access to Catholic schools for low-income families.” 

Holter began his life of service to Catholic schools when he joined the ACE program and taught for two years at Holy Trinity Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned his Master of Education degree from Notre Dame in 2002. He then pursued doctoral studies in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, studying under Robert Enright, a pioneer in the research of the science of forgiveness. Upon earning his doctorate, Holter returned to Notre Dame in 2007 to join the faculty of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, teaching in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and leading research to determine the efficacy and impact of multiple ACE efforts.

In 2013, Holter accepted the position of Executive Director of the Fulcrum Foundation in Seattle, which strives to increase access to Catholic schools throughout Western Washington. Five years later, Holter was named the executive director and president of Empower Illinois, an organization driven to expand quality educational options across the state through research, policy, and advocacy.

ACE commencement exercises will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Notre Dame will bestow 111 graduate degrees upon the next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders who completed periods of formation and service in two nationally recognized programs.

Seventy-nine ACE Teaching Fellows graduates will receive master of education degrees as the culmination of two years of academic study combined with teaching in Catholic K-12 schools in underserved areas around the country. Thirty-two graduates from ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program will receive master of art degrees in educational leadership, concluding 25 months of formation that equipped them to be school principals and leaders in Catholic education.

ACE will also present awards at the ceremony to honor three of its graduates. Alissa Blair, a member of ACE Teaching Fellows’ 9th cohort and an assistant professor of TESOL in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas, will receive the Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field. Joseph Augustinsky and Elizabeth Watters Schwartze will receive the Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education, given to those who graduated between five and 10 years ago and have distinguished themselves in making significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic education. Augustinsky, a member of the 19th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, is the Science Department Chair at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Illinois. Watters Schwartze, a member of the 20th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows and the 18th cohort of the Remick Leadership Program, is the principal of St. Elizabeth Seton School in Palo Alto, California.


Watch the livestream of ACE's Commencement at on Saturday, July 13 at 3:30 pm Eastern. 


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