2015 Bishop's Award Winners Announced

May 06, 2015

On April 23, the Bishop’s Associates held its annual luncheon at the Union League Club. At the event, held in Bishop Lee and Bishop Epting’s honor, the group presented its Bishop’s Associate’s Award to six lay leaders who have “made an outstanding achievement in service to the church, to the broader northern Illinois community, or to the world.”

Derrick Dawson

Derrick Charles Dawson, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, served in the United States Navy as a Journalist 3rd Class and broadcaster and has served all over the world. He is best known for his work in our diocese in developing the Anti-Racism Commission and has served as its co-chair for several years in multiple terms. He has also served as the co-chair of the Board of Directors of Crossroads, the organization that provides our anti-racism training.  He has done trainings locally and nationally and has a deep commitment for making our world better for all races.

Derrick is a dedicated member of his parish. He was a driving force behind the St. Martin Repertory Theater and has served as its producer and director.  He serves on the board of ReVive Center for Housing and Healing and is serving his second term on our diocesan Standing Committee

As an example of unwavering dedication one nominator recalled that Derrick recently suffered a blood infection and spent an extended time in the hospital but continued to work and support anti-racism work from his hospital bed.  The day he left the hospital, Derrick did not go straight home but went in his wheel chair to a training session for Chicago  ROAR—Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-racism—and conducted much of the training that day for new potential trainers.  He had not been home in weeks but didn’t let them deter him from the work.  He conducted a workshop on anti-racism at St. Paul’s Peoria just days after that. 

Shirley Holt

Shirley Holt has been a member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn for 42 years. As a young woman she received her R.N. from the West Suburban School of Nursing and her B.S. in Nursing from Wheaton College, and taught Psychiatric Nursing before taking time off to raise her four children. Returning to work, she noticed that "the elderly were becoming the voiceless in our country" and decided to enter the long-term care field. This began a 40 year career in geriatric nursing. 

About 11 years ago, Shirley began a conversation with then Bishop Daniel Deng Bul of South Sudan about the lack of health care in the region. Inspired to help, she and others decided to host a fundraising concert with some of the professional musicians at St. Barnabas to raise money for health ministries in South Sudan. Since then, Shirley has organized and produced the ten concerts sponsored by St. Barnabas Parish, raising more than $120,000 for South Sudan.  In 2010, Shirley received an honorary Ph.D. from Resurrection University in recognition of her contributions to the relief of suffering in South Sudan.

Shirley continues to serve on the Renk Subcommittee of the Diocesan Commission on Global Ministry. In addition, Shirley is a Eucharistic Visitor and choir member and has led parish ministry efforts including the Outreach Commission of St. Barnabas; the summer PADS program; and in parish fundraising. Outside of St. Barnabas, she serves on the Board of Outreach Community Ministries in Wheaton, an organization that provides housing, education and training to young, single mothers.


Retired Colonel Jill Morganthaler

Jill Morganthaler has been a member of St. Martin’s Church, Des Plaines, for 22 years. She served in the Army in Korea, Berlin, Bosnia and Iraq.  She was the first woman battalion commander in the 88th Regional Support Command and was the first woman brigade commander in the 84th Division. 

Jill served as a peace keeper in Bosnia and aided in the resettlement of Kosovo refugees.  She also run workshops for Russian women entrepreneurs  and international women scientists.  Now retired from the Army, Jill works as a motivational speaker and published author—her latest is  “Courage to Take Command:  Leadership Lessons from a Military Trailblazer."

It is said of Jill, “By consistently putting her beliefs into action, Jill has helped countless women harness their wisdom and strength so they can work to create a better future for themselves now and a more promising one for those that follow.


Mary P. (Mimi) Murley

Mimi Murley is a devoted member of the  Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest, where she has been deeply involved in everything from teaching Sunday School and leading children’s chapel to serving on the vestry and as a warden and serving on rector search committees. She has been a vital leader and supporter of Renewal Works, which originated at the Church of the Holy Spirit and is now a national program of Forward Movement.

A woman of deep faith she has been attending the Community Bible Study for some 25 years and has been transformed by the “impact of the study of the Word and seeing how God teaches us through Christ.” It is said of Mimi that “she is a grace-filled woman who has the extraordinary ability to see God in each person she encounters in her life and knows, that if she roots her day in Christ, she will see and encounter God everywhere.

In the wider church she has served on the board of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and currently serves on  the board of Forward Movement.  In December she and her husband Bob were asked to join the 15 member Friends of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which her father co-founded 20 years ago to provide resources and over see grants to fund missions and other programs proposed by the Archbishop and Primates around the world. Outside of the Church Mimi has been a dedicated leader serving on boards and supporting Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago


Rima Schultz

As the only awardee this year that is not Episcopalian, Rima Schultz arguably knows more about the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Chicago than most people in the diocese. Though she has worked with the late Richard Seidel as head of the department of Technical Services at the Newberry Library, she is best known for being a member of our own Archive and Record Management committee since its inception. She has taught at Seabury-Western and literally written the books on the history of St. James Cathedral; deaconess ministry; and women in the Episcopal Church. She was the project director for the diocesan Women’s History Project.

Bishop Montgomery, who retired in 1987, commissioned her to begin that work on the history of St. James and she has been helping us understand our history and legacy ever since.  Rima has said, “out of  my relationship with clergy and people of the diocese, I formed an attachment that has become deeply personal as well as professional I have been granted the most wonderful privilege, to labor in the great archival and material culture of an honorable, venerable and justice-seeking tradition.” Thanks to Rima, we know more about our legacy and story and it is now available not only for our use and understanding but will be for generations to come.


Karen Lesseig Snyder 

Karen Lesseig Snyder of St. Paul’s Church, Warsaw was originally a teacher. She put her husband, Larry Synder, through seminary as a case worker with the Pennsylvania department of public assistance in Philadelphia. In the past decade, she has committed her life to a medical mission in the Dominican Republic known as Dominican Dreams. 

The medical mission was first created  in the former Diocese of Quincy to serve the needy in Haiti, and from that Karen has organized medical missions that have included people from across the country and Canada to serve people in need in the Dominican Republic. More than just medical outreach, it is a ministry of Christian witness and compassion that has made patients into friends and has created a spiritual family that includes Jews, Muslims, Dominicans, American, Canadians, Haitians and Iranians united in a common purpose and goal of unity through service. Over the years, Karen has become godmother to two Dominican children, put one woman through University, and has been adopted by at least seven young men and women as their “American Mother”.

It is said of Karen, “What really makes her special is her attitude, enthusiasm and the energy she brings to the mission.  She has helped [me] understand that the more I bring to others, the more comes to me that I can serve more and serve better.”