On Saturday, October 14, 2023, the CLHSA inducted eleven alumni from Lutheran High School East, Lutheran High School West, and the original Lutheran High School (Downtown) into the school's Distinguished Alumni program.
The Distinguished Alumni program recognizes those graduates who have had significant success in their professions and in their communities.
The 2023 class of Distinguished Alumni are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Jennifer (Brown) Carter graduated in the Class of 1990, then received her BS from Wittenberg University and MS from Neumann College. Prior to her professional career, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer English teacher in Kenya. She founded Biashara, Inc., which is the parent company to Oak Tree Learning Centers, an acclaimed educational organization that supports students and parents, particularly children in disenfranchised communities. Carter serves on a number of boards and committees, is a published author, and holds seminars for educators and business owners. In May, Lutheran East was blessed to have her as its commencement speaker for the Class of 2023’s graduation. Jennifer is married to Leighton Carter, a fellow Lutheran East classmate, and they reside in Southern California.
Charlene A. Coughlin is a graduate of Lutheran West in the Class of 2001, and went on to attend Bluffton College, studying Communications, Marketing, and PR. She has had a notable career in marketing and advertising, working for some of Cleveland’s premier agencies. Currently, Charlene is President & Partner at TWIST Creative. She is an expert in verticals including B2B, B2C, retail, education, nonprofit & community organizations, and more. She has been named an Adweek Executive Mentee and Woman Trailblazer, and is a speaker and voice writer for Adweek. Charlene has served as Vice President of Programming for the American Advertising Federation Cleveland, and currently serves the CLHSA as Vice Chair of the Lutheran West Operating Board and Chair of the OMNIA gala committee. Charlene was also the commencement speaker at the Lutheran West graduation ceremony for the Class of 2023 in May.
Clyde Elbrecht is a 1963 graduate of Lutheran High School East. He went on to attend Kent State University and later earned his graduate degree at Wheaton College. Elbrecht worked for Campus Crusade for Christ and with The Billy Graham Association, positions that allowed him to focus on high school ministry, starting teen ministries overseas, and facilitating technology and equipment for the Gospel to be heard around the world. Elbrecht was then called to business and – through his ventures – aims to use his business successes to give back through ministry. Professionally and personally, Elbrecht and his family and employees offer ministry and practical assistance to organizations throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.
Dr. Arlene (Nash) Hayne is a 1967 graduate of Lutheran High School West. She has had an incredible career in the field of nursing and healthcare administration. She is a graduate of the Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing, the University of Cincinnati with her BSN, and the University of Alabama with her MSN and her PhD. She has managed emergency rooms, ICUs, and nursing staffs numbering over 300. Dr. Hayne is the published author of textbooks and industry publications, and has served as a sought-after consultant for hospitals and other organizations on the topics of strategic planning, leadership development, organizational assessment, and education. She was also an esteemed professor of Nursing Administration at Samford University in Alabama.
Dr. James Heidmann is a member of the Class of 1982. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toledo, a Master's in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, and a PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Heidmann is the Chief of NASA's Turbomachinery Branch, leading a $300 million annual investment by NASA in the development of air vehicle technology. He is the author of over 20 published research papers and journal articles on aircraft engine turbomachinery. He was named Fellow of the American Society of Mechnical Engineers, and has received Purdue University's Outstanding Mechanical Engineer award. Dr. Heidmann is also an accomplished marathon and half-marathon runner.
Viola Hessler is a 1974 graduate of Lutheran High School East, and subsequently attended Valparaiso University where she earned her degree in Accounting. Professionally, she worked for the firm Peat Marwich, which is currently well-known Accounting firm KPMG, as well as served as a manager in the mortgage banking division at TransOhio Savings Bank. Viola became a dedicated mother to four children and a dedicated and impactful member of the Lutheran community in Northeast Ohio. She spent years serving on the CLHSA Board of Directors and serving the schools in other capacities, such as in the drama department, in the CLHSA office, and as a Moms in Prayer leader. She has given her time and talent to Bethany Lutheran, serving as the Director of Christian Education and pioneering the church’s children’s programs.
Mark Minnick is a 1970 graduate of Lutheran High School West and a graduate of Concordia Junior College in Ann Arbor and Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne. He has built a successful career in the manufacturing industry, and his business entities now operate four manufacturing facilities and five distribution centers in Indiana and Northeast Illinois. In the 1990s, Mark also earned a Masters of Divinity from The Lutheran School of Theology and established two not-for-profit entities in the Fort Wayne area: an entertainment music venue and a ministry program called Come2Go Ministries. His work in ministry has focused on outreach and taking action to serve others.
Jonathan Reitz is a 1985 graduate of Lutheran East. He is the CEO and Director of Education at FLUXIFY in Cleveland, which provides coaching development and training for individuals and organizations. He is a member of the International Coaching Federation, and through the IFC, he holds industry certifications and serves on the organization’s Artificial Intelligence task force. He is also a speaker at industry events and conferences. Prior to his current endeavors, Jonathan enjoyed a career in radio and television. He is active in church ministry, both locally and nationwide and he serves as a member of the board of Building Hope in the City.
Colonel Ron Schwachenwald is a 1956 graduate of the original Lutheran High School (downtown). After graduating from the University of Tampa with a degree in Business, Ron entered the United States Army and served our nation for 35 years. His impactful projects with the Department of Defense and in other notable assignments are too numerous to count. He is a decorated veteran with an incredible number of awards and achievements. Ron has worked as a civilian in government, non-profit, business, and community organizations. He serves as a sought-after consultant for both for-profit and non-profit organizations in Northeast Ohio and generously gives his time and insight to a number of community, civic, and veterans' affairs organizations. The entire CLHSA commmunity thanks Ron and his family for their service to our country.
Greg Steinberg is a 1991 graduate of Lutheran West and a graduate of Cleveland State University with his BS in Finance and his MBA. His notable professional career included servingas the Chief Financial Officer for Cleveland-based American Greetings, where he was instrumental in the company’s trajectory. He has been a speaker and consultant in the finance and banking industry, covering topics such as strategy, leadership, and capital allocation. After American Greetings, Greg decided to teach, and now teaches business courses at the University of Akron and John Carroll. He is a dedicated and involved Lutheran community member, having served on boards and committees for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries and the CLHSA, currently as President. Greg also serves on the boards of FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurance firms, and the Cleveland Triathlon Club.
Dr. Micah Wells is a 2007 graduate of Lutheran High School East. While at East, he excelled academically and athletically, and was a member of the school’s first state championship basketball team in 2005. He then went on to Tennessee State University, where he studied Health Sciences and Therapeutic Studies; and subsequently earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Howard University. Dr. Wells lives and works in Washington, DC, where he is the founder and CEO of The Micah Touch Sports Performance and Physical Therapy Services. His focus is on improving the overall athletic performance and recovery of athletes at all levels. Dr. Wells is the Vice President of the American Physical Therapy Association’s DC chapter.