2018 Hall of Fame Inductees

2018 Alumni Inductees
Lisa Gangel Kerney, '00
Angel Reda, '99
Jason Ross, '93
Elizabeth Kisthardt Samples, '00
Michael Thomas, 06
2018 Distinguished Service Award Inductees
Jackie & Gary Davis
Michele Gress
2018 Alumni Inductees
Lisa Gangel Kerney, class of 2000, is a sports anchor with ESPN based in Bristol, Connecticut. Kerney joined the Worldwide Leader in February 2014, appearing on various shows across several platforms. Kerney is the host of Fantasy Football Now on Sunday mornings during the NFL season, anchors ESPN’s SportsCenter weekdays at 10am ET, and host of ESPN's first-ever internal podcast "Stay Curious with Lisa Kerney."
Kerney graduated from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, where she majored in broadcast communications and was point guard and captain of the women's basketball team. She earned Female Scholar Athlete of the Year honors as a senior in 2004.
Lisa began her broadcast journalism career in 2004 as the sports producer/reporter/anchor at CBS-affiliate KXLF-TV in Butte, Montana. She received the Montana Standard 2005 People's Choice Awards: Top Choice for "Best Sports Reporter" and "Best TV Personality."
From Montana, Kerney moved to Seattle in October 2005 where she was weekend sports anchor and Northwest Sports Tonight host for KING-TV until 2010. She was also responsible for the national highlight segment of The Jim Mora Show, which aired after every Seattle Seahawks game.
In 2010-2011, Kerney was a sports contributor/reporter for the Major League Baseball Network. Lisa then became sports anchor for CBS 2 News This Morning at WCBS-TV in New York City, where she was nominated for an Emmy alongside her WCBS-TV team in 2012. She also co-hosted the station’s morning show called The Couch which served the Tri-State Area until her move to ESPN in 2014.
Lisa is married to Patrick Kerney, retired pro football player for the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. They have three daughters and one son, and reside in Greenwich, Connecticut.
While at Saint Thomas Aquinas, Kerney played basketball and soccer. She is listed among the top all-time Saints Girls Basketball players for career points, steals, assists and three-point goals. Lisa played on two KSHSAA Girls Soccer state championship teams, and received the Girls Soccer Senior Award in 2000, which recognizes character, leadership, dedication and soccer skills.
In a recent article in the Kansas City Star, Lisa credited her sports-loving parents (her mom, a competitive youth swimmer and marathon runner, and her dad who played basketball at Rockhurst University) “for nurturing her love of athletics.”
Lisa Kerney is the daughter of Barbara & Louis Gangel (Lou is a St. Joseph class of 1960 graduate). Her siblings are Jennifer Gangel Duncan, Jacque Gangel Gary, ‘98, Angie Gangel Sharpe, ‘01, and Bobby Gangel.
Angelique Veronica Reda, class of 1999, began dancing at age 3, singing at age 5, and at the age of 7 appeared in her first musical production. By age 10, Angel had starred in her first film and recorded her first solo on a children’s album. She performed with Miller-Marley Entertainers for 15 years, and was awarded a scholarship to perform with the group at Expo ‘92, the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain.
As a young person, Angel was a talented singer, dancer and performer, while also excelling in school. At Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angel was an active participant in Show Choir, A Capella Choir, STA Drill Team and the school musical. She received several awards including the Fine Arts Department Senior Award for outstanding performance and dedication in Music.
Angel graduated summa cum laude from Saint Thomas Aquinas, and went on to attend University of Cincinnati’s prestigious College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) to study Musical Theatre. While at CCM, she performed in numerous main stage productions and several seasons of summer stock, earning her the Friends of CCM Award for Best Performance in a Mainstage Production and the coveted Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Angel moved from Cincinnati to New York City. She quickly landed a role in the film, The Stepford Wives, and booked an appearance on Chappelle’s Show. Her stay in New York was interrupted by an opportunity to tour with the hit musical Chicago, the Musical, which played every major city in the U.S. along with international dates in Canada and Japan. After touring, Angel was cast in the Broadway production of Chicago, the Musical, covering the infamous “Roxie Hart.” Between the two productions, she took on the role of “Ursula,” the Italian bombshell, in the first national tour of Sweet Charity.
In 2011, Angel was asked to join film and Broadway star Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables, The Greatest Showman, The Boy from Oz) in his one-man stage act which opened in San Francisco and continued in Toronto. Angel and fellow actor/performer Merle Dandridge accompanied Jackman for some of his favorite songs from stage and screen. The Broadway divas then lit up the stage with a powerful performance of “Take Me or Leave Me” from the hit musical Rent.
Angel has performed in numerous films, television shows, commercials, plays and musical performances including her best known performance as “Elphaba” in the Los Angeles and San Francisco companies’ production of the hit Broadway musical Wicked. Most recently, Angel appeared in the Broadway musical War Paint with Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole. She can be heard on the original cast recording of the Broadway show Late Night with Stephen Colbert and Good Day, New York, and is often asked to sing the National Anthem at prestigious venues across the country.
Angel received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for community service, including her involvement with the Sing for your Seniors program and three music recordings for the Carols for a Cure album benefitting Broadway Cares /Equity Fights Aids.
Angel is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and through her maternal line is the 11th generation of her family to be born in North America. She currently resides in New York City while continuing to advance her career performing on camera, stage, and in the recording studio. Her parents are Karen and Jack Reda. Her brother Michael Reda also graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1997. 
“Grateful” is a word that really resonates with 1993 graduate Jason Ross. Reflecting on his time at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Jason is grateful to God for giving him his mom and dad, and grateful to his mom and dad for being fierce advocates for him and his education.
Jason attended Saint Thomas Aquinas from August 1988 to May 1993, starting as a seventh grader due to his advanced learning skills. His parents collaborated with the administration at STA - Mr. Mulvany, Sr. Kathleen and Mr. Aley - to set up a split-day schedule so that Jason could attend Catholic grade school and high school at the same time. At Saint Thomas Aquinas, Jason participated in Scholar’s Bowl, Debate, Track & Field and Tennis. In 1993, his Scholar’s Bowl team won WIBW’s televised statewide “HiQ” tournament. When Mr. Ewing connected Jason with a database programming job, Jason began to understand what a professional technical work environment was like and how to be successful.
Jason Ross is a Principal Engineer for Intel, one of the world's largest semiconductor computer chip makers. Jason leads a group of graphics architecture engineers who build mathematical models to predict the performance and power consumption of Intel’s future graphics products, helping to determine what design ideas to pursue. The most enjoyable aspect of Jason’s day-job involves teaching: mentoring individual engineers and also presenting in larger groups in the United States and overseas. Jason has taught in San Francisco, Folsom, Portland, Gdansk (Poland), Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing (China). Jason has several U.S. approved and pending patents for useful ideas in circuit board design.
Jason’s college options included CalTech and MIT, but he was still a little young and simply wasn’t ready to be that far from home so he chose Kansas State, studied Computer Engineering and Mathematics, and participated in KSU Student Senate. In 1996 Jason was the leading scorer on K-State’s Putnam Mathematical Competition team, which finished first among all public universities and twelfth overall among 294 teams. Jason briefly held the K-State record for best individual performance. During his college career, he landed a summer internship at Intel in Folsom, California, and the internship turned into a full-time position. Since then, Jason has remained at Intel, grateful for his job and his community, and especially grateful for meeting and marrying his wife Jennifer.
Outside of work responsibilities, Jason earned his MBA from California State University – Sacramento in 2007 and also appeared on the game show Jeopardy that year. He enjoys cycling, playing guitar and reading fiction. Jason also lectors at St. John the Baptist parish in Folsom.

Jason Ross is grateful for what his Catholic education has helped him become, and he believes Christ calls us to make that education accessible to all those who want it. To that end, Jason cares deeply about STA’s Guardian Angel Fund and about the Cristo Rey educational system.
Jason attended Corpus Christi (Fort Dodge, IA) and Holy Trinity (Lenexa) grade schools. His parents are Randy and Patty Ross, of Overland Park. He has a younger sister, Amber.
Elizabeth Kisthardt Samples, class of 2000, grew up in a loving, Catholic family where education and awareness for others were simply part of the dinner discussion. Her mother and father, Law and Social Work professors respectively, taught their children to be committed to social justice and service to others from a young age.

Liz attended 1st through 8th grade at St. Joseph in Shawnee, and became active in Good Shepherd parish’s Youth Ministry program, twice traveling with delegations to Good Shepherd’s sister-parish in El Salvador. She futhered her mission work at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School by participating in two Spring Break mission trips to Mexico and Dominican Republic, while also serving on Student Council, leading a senior Kairos retreat and volunteering for Olathe Refugee Services. As a Pax Christi award winner, Liz was asked to deliver the commencement address at graduation for the Class of 2000.

Samples attended Saint Louis University on a Presidential Scholarship, earning two Bachelor’s degrees - summa cum laude - in English and Social Work in 2004. While at SLU, Liz was an RCIA Sponsor and completed a liturgical internship with the SLU Center for Liturgy. She participated in a social work practicum that included 500 hours of work assisting with homeless services at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. Her senior thesis focused on faith experiences of women in conflict based on interviews with women in Northern Ireland and El Salvador. Liz served as the President of the St. Louis University Alumni Club in Kansas City for eight years. She met her husband, David, at SLU, and after years of friendship they were married at Good Shepherd in 2009.

After graduation from SLU, Liz joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Boston, Massachusetts where she lived in community with other volunteers. During her year-long volunteer service, Liz worked for an anti-death penalty organization created by murder victims’ family members. As part of that ministry, she arranged for an anti-death penalty traveling display called “Not in My Name” to visit Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. In Boston, she also provided education and religious ministry at Suffolk County House of Corrections by leading education and religion classes and preparing for liturgies.

Samples then attended the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she earned her J.D. in 2008. With education as a cornerstone of her family, and with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles as educators, her focus on Education Law was a perfect fit. Liz was also a contributing member of the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society.

Initially upon graduating from law school, Samples served as a law clerk to the Hon. Richard D. Greene of the Kansas Court of Appeals from 2008-2010 in Topeka, Kansas. Liz then served for five years as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights where she evaluated, investigated and resolved discrimination complaints against recipients of DOE financial assistance.

In 2015, Liz joined the Kansas City offices of Husch Blackwell where she and the Education team represent major research institutions, regional universities, private colleges, nursing and allied health schools, and community colleges. Samples and her colleagues help these institutions identify and resolve potential legal issues through compliance audits, policy programs, training and general counsel services.

Liz and David reside in Shawnee, Kansas with their three children, Brian, age 6, a kindergarten student at Good Shepherd, John, age 4, and Connor, 7 months. Over the years, Liz has participated in various activities at Saint Thomas Aquinas, including the Saints Stampede, Saints Alumni Council, Admissions testimonial video, and planning class reunions.

With gratitude for her Catholic education and continued focus on social justice ministries, Liz is currently serving serves as a board member for the archdiocesan Catholic Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to low-income families so that their children can attend Catholic schools.
No. 8 on the Saints roster, Michael Thomas, class of 2006, was a four-year starter for Saint Thomas Aquinas High School and valuable member of three KSHSAA Boys Soccer State Champion teams. Michael was recognized twice as All-American and selected three times each to the All-State and All-City teams. He was named 2005-06 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and ranks in the career top-10 at Saint Thomas Aquinas for goals scored, assists, and points.
After high school, Michael Thomas attended the University of Notre Dame, playing midfield and wearing #8 for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. During his college years, Thomas also played for Kansas City Brass in the USL Premier Development League, and was selected for regional and national team competitions as well as international events in Italy and Spain.
Following his collegiate soccer career, Thomas was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in the second round (19th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Shortly after, Thomas opted to play internationally, signing contracts with Swedish teams Halmstads BK and Ljungskile SK.
In January 2012, to the excitement of his family, friends and fans, Michael returned to his hometown Kansas City, signing a contract with MLS club Sporting Kansas City wearing #88. In 2014, Thomas became the first player to sign with new USL franchise Oklahoma City Energy FC for its inaugural season, where he was team captain through 2016.
In August 2012, in conjunction with the school’s 25th year, the Saints Soccer program recognized Michael Thomas for his achievements by permanently retiring his jersey and his favorite number ‘8.’
Thomas began working toward his MBA while playing for the Energy, graduating in July 2017 with specialization in entrepreneurship. He co-founded a company called ReLiveIt, an augmented reality mobile platform that helps enhance experiences at museums, historical sites and athletic venues. Earlier this year, Thomas and his partners hosted their first “Museum of Augmented Reality” exhibit at Science Museum Oklahoma where they tested their beta application, conducted market research, and analyzed key statistics and data.
Last February, Michael was hired as a contractor for a new indoor sports facility called Score OKC, managing installation of two outdoor soccer fields, construction of the indoor facility, and assisting with market research and operations strategies. Michael’s position will change to General Manager when Score OKC opens in November 2018.
Michael Thomas also finds time to give back to his community. While playing for OKC Energy, Michael Thomas and two teammates created Soccer Allies, which provides opportunities to young, less-experienced players at clinics and camps throughout the year. He coaches several soccer programs, including club teams OKC Chaos United and OKC Pixies, as well as the Casady High School girls’ varsity and Putnam City North High School boys’ varsity teams.
Thomas is also an ambassador and spokesperson, mentor and coach for several nonprofits that focus on helping disadvantaged youth: Breaking Free from, Fields & Futures, Sidekicks and Habitat for Humanity. He also speaks at local schools to talk about the importance of family, decision-making and life choices. Michael attended Prince of Peace grade school, and his parents are Debbie & John Thomas of Olathe, Kansas. His older brother is also a Saints alum, Eric Thomas, ‘02.
2018 Distinguished Service Award Inductees
Anyone who knows Jackie & Gary Davis can safely say these Ascension parishioners are supportive of their children and their education. In 1999 when their oldest child was a freshman, the Davis’s became actively involved at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. Since then, Jackie and Gary have exemplified what it means to be selflessly committed to Catholic education and the Saints community.

All four Davis children are Saint Thomas Aquinas graduates: RaeChelle, 2003, Jerod, 2008, Austin, 2013, and Bryce, 2017. Gary and Jackie have always prioritized supporting their children’s schools, and also working to help make Catholic education affordable for families in Johnson County.

Gary served on the STA Foundation Board from 1999-2002, and the school’s Board of Trustees from 2002-2017. Jackie has been an integral member of the Extravaganza Steering Committee for numerous years, and Gary and Jackie were Extravaganza Co-Chairs in 2012 and 2013.
They also have helped with the school’s Performing Arts department activities and performances, as well being actively involved in their parish, including the annual Mardi Gras auction, Catholic Youth Organization, Knights of Columbus, Ascension Finance Council, and the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Besides being active volunteers, Jackie and Gary have generously supported Saint Thomas Aquinas by donating unique and comprehensive travel-packages to the Extravaganza auction, contributing regularly to the Blue & Gold Annual Fund, sponsoring the annual Saints Golf Classic and participating in every capital campaign: On the Horizon, Faith & Reason, Stadium Initiative and AQUINAS 2020. Gary was instrumental in initiating the school’s Stadium Advertising program in 2012.

In 1993, Jackie and Gary Davis purchased a small Kansas City travel agency with two employees called Travel Shop. Over the next 25 years, they acquired and merged with other successful agencies, becoming All About Travel and now Acendas, a Top 25 U.S. Travel Management Company from which Gary recently retired as Owner and Co-President.
Gary served on numerous travel-industry advisory boards and earned the 2011 Travel Professional of the Year Award from Travel Agent Magazine and Luxury Travel Advisor. He also served on advisory boards for TRAMS, Vacation.com, Classic Vacations, Ultra Luxury Exchange, Travel Insured and Passport Online.

Not surprising, the couple enjoys traveling - including visits to see their two grandchildren in Florida. What’s next for the Davis’s? Gary and Jackie agree they look forward to “enjoying the next phase of our blessed life while continuing to support Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Catholic Education and youth development in the Kansas City area.”
Michele Gress is definitely a familiar face at Saint Thomas Aquinas. Most people don’t realize that this “resident photographer” -- who seems to be at every Saints event -- just wouldn’t have it any other way.

Michele took her first “Saints” photographs during the Freshman Academy Awards party in January 2007 -- before her daughter Amanda, a 2011 Saints graduate, was even a student at STA! Michele was invited to tag along with her friend, STA mom Francie Kwapiszeski, to take photos. She shared the pictures with Mary Bridget Kratofil, the school’s Director of Communications, who included one of Michele’s images in the Saints Spirit magazine.

The next fall Amanda was a freshman in the Saints Brigade marching band, and Michele asked if she could take photographs on the field during a football halftime. She enjoyed the smiles of the kids as she also took pictures of fans, cheerleaders and players. One game lead to another, and soon her friends were asking her to take pics at their kids’ events, theater productions and swim meets. She again shared the images with Kratofil, and the rest is history.

A couple years later her son Kyle Gress, ‘13, donned a Saints goalie jersey and Michele immersed herself in taking photos during his freshman soccer season. That fall, coaches Ewing, Hammons and B White became like family, and the Saints Soccer Team became National Champions! A slice of Saints history was captured forever in her photos, and Michele was honored to be a part of it.
Growing fonder of the school community and feeling “like a mom for all the kids,” Michele decided she would try to attend every event/activity at least once. She wanted pics of the all the great things Saints were doing during the year. In 2013, with Kyle’s upcoming graduation, Michele told her son, “even though you’re graduating, Momma Gress doesn’t want to!” So now, ten years later, Michele Gress is still the resident volunteer photographer … attending as many events and activities as possible, taking and posting photos for the Saints community to enjoy, and connecting with new kids, parents and families.

Michele has volunteered mostly within the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas since she and her husband Larry met at Benedictine College. Michele has been active at Church of the Ascension parish and school in many capacities, even while her kids were in preschool. She was a member of the library committee and PTO board, and is still the parish school sacristan. Michele was employed at Ascension for four years in Marriage & Family Life Ministries, and has chaperoned teenagers for World Youth Day in Toronto, Prairie Star Ranch retreats, and Pro Life Boot Camp. Michele works with the Mardi Gras fundraiser and Christ Renews His Parish on an ongoing basis.

Truly Michele Gress became who she is at Saint Thomas Aquinas -- a mom with a camera!
Michele says she simply captures what God shows her, as a testament to His love.