ESHS Board of Trustees, Strategic Consultant & Advisor, Former President & CEO of Boeing-Kestrel Enterprises, Retired US Navy Officer
What attracted you to becoming affiliated with Elizabeth Seton High School?
Nearly five years ago, my neighbor mentioned to me that he was serving on the Board of Directors of an all-girls school in Bladensburg that was doing incredible things for a diverse group of young ladies. He commented that he thought I could contribute and should meet with the school’s President.
Shortly thereafter, I went to Elizabeth Seton High School, met with Sister Ellen Marie Hagar, and toured the campus. I can honestly say that within the first half-hour I was not just ‘set on Seton,’ I was ‘sold on Seton.’ The combination of the vision of Sister Ellen Marie for all the school could be, combined with meeting a wonderful cross-section of the student body, convinced me I wanted to serve.
Now some five years later, I can wholeheartedly state that other than being a parent and husband, there is nothing more important in my life than serving our young ladies and this wonderful school.
What makes our mission meaningful to you?
An additional major part of the “why” for me derives from my upbringing and Seton’s mission. I am a first-generation American. My father came over to Ellis Island on a ship at the age of eight in 1934 from what was then Czechoslovakia. His dad, my grandfather, had made the ocean crossing shortly after my father’s birth and was working in the steel mills outside of Pittsburgh, PA. America meant a new start for the Radi family and its educational opportunities enabled my immigrant father to get not only a bachelor’s degree, but also an MBA. The World War II GI Bill was the ticket for my father. His hard work and sacrifices afforded me and my two siblings to pursue our educational goals. Dad then “paid it back” to his adopted country throughout the rest of his life as a 40-year public school teacher, coach and civic leader. Like many immigrants and their offspring who have attended Seton over the years, my parents knew that a solid education was the core foundational piece for success -- and this son of a Slovak immigrant has been blessed to have degrees from the Naval Academy and Harvard.
So for me, supporting the mission of Seton – a mission of educational excellence set so long ago by the Archdiocese and the Daughters of Charity -- is a natural fit as Seton has set so many on the path to not only success, but also to lives of faith and service to others. On the issue of service, the formative years of my life – 24 of them – were spent in our United States Navy. Immediately upon entering the Naval Academy, it was made crystal clear to me that the Navy was all about answering a higher calling which at its core is service to others and higher ideals. It is not about the promotion of self-interest. This is precisely what Seton teaches and imbues in her students and I’m convinced it’s why her graduates are so successful. For me, the formula is pretty simple and it truly lives here at Seton – combine a willingness to work hard with a dedication to God and service to others and you will have a bright future and go wherever you want to go in life.
What are your goals for your contribution to the Board?
We are blessed with an extremely talented and energetic Board of Directors. All share the vision of enabling Seton to provide the best possible four-year “whole person” educational experience for our young ladies and prepare them for their futures in the dynamic world in which we live. As an “old jock,” I am particularly proud of the new turf field and track that came from our most recent capital campaign, along with the wonderful upgrades to our library. I now am all-in on our new effort to fund the performing arts center and eventually a much need elevator.
But what I hope and pray is most important in the form of my contribution is as an example of service. Along with my faith, the lessons from my service to our country shaped my life and have been central and indispensable to all that I have accomplished. Clearly, there are no better examples of service to others for our young ladies than Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac – the founders of the Daughters of Charity. In some small way, my goal has been to try to set an additional example of service to others and the truly unmeasurable sense of joy that comes from it.
What are some of your prior board leadership experiences or volunteer service?
Admittedly, prior to coming to Seton, I did not have a great wealth of board experience. I did serve on the board of a start-up company I joined after my Navy service and we successfully steered that company’s growth and eventual purchase by Boeing. While a major part of that effort and experience – a commercial one – was driven by “profit & loss,” I pride myself on never losing sight of the most precious and valuable asset of the company – its people. The analog to Seton is that while the Board is properly focused on our capital improvements and campaigns (library restoration, new turf field and track, and now the performing arts center), they are nowhere near as important as caring for the needs and development of our young ladies, faculty and staff.