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About the Honorees

EVELYN (LYN) FERRARA MAJOR ’68

Excellence in Dominican Charism

Born in Brooklyn and educated in New Jersey, it was Lyn’s junior college friend Pat—the future Sister Patricia Stringer, O.P.—who encouraged her to consider completing her undergraduate degree at Caldwell College for Women. Lyn, who had recently lost her father, needed a caring, supportive community that was close to home. Caldwell was the perfect fit.

The sociology program was a new and innovative force at the college at the time, fostering a fresh wave of investigative thinking. Lyn, like many of her fellow students, came from a sheltered background. The sociology program inspired them to explore and consider the world around them, which at the time was reeling from the war in Viet Nam as well as civil unrest and deep cultural shifts throughout the U.S. Caldwell gave students the tools to form their own ideas and opinions.

Following graduation, Lyn was happy to accept Sister Pat’s invitation to volunteer at St. Francis de Sales Mission School in Abaco, Bahamas, before embarking on a scholarship-funded graduate program in education at Seton Hall University. She chose rehabilitation counseling as her area of concentration. Her plan was to work in community mental health. Instead, Lyn returned to Abaco to teach at St. Francis de Sales, and to get married.

For health reasons—Lyn is a cancer survivor—the newlyweds decided to start their family by adopting. As an interracial couple, however, it was difficult to find an agency willing to work with them. They learned of twin boys who needed a home. After more than three years of persistent effort, James and Vincent became part of the Major family.

Lyn expected that the boys would have some developmental delays, due to their time in the orphanage. She hadn’t counted on the severity of their issues, however. It was the 1990s and the phrase “autism spectrum” had not entered our vocabulary. Lyn quickly learned that Abaco offered little for students with special needs, so she formed the Every Child Counts (ECC) program in a renovated trailer at St. Francis de Sales.

Today, the ECC serves more than 100 students each year on its three-building campus, and offers students vocational business internships and job opportunities in addition to education. In 2013, ECC launched Starfish Enterprises, an on-site training center that produces soap and handmade gift items for sale. Starfish Enterprises is one of the first facilities of its kind in the Bahamas, and is being considered by the National Disabilities Commission as a model for other programs throughout the Commonwealth.

In 2014, Every Child Counts, a documentary about ECC, premiered in Nassau and was featured at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. It later premiered on Canadian television and at film festivals in Florida and Nassau.


JON CALLAHAN ‘04

Excellence in Entrepreneurship

Jon carried on a family tradition when he enrolled in Caldwell University. His mother, a graduate of Caldwell College for Women, would often take him for drives through campus. A competitive snowboarder in high school, Jon gave up a lucrative professional touring opportunity to study at Caldwell. Jon graduated from Caldwell in 2004 with a degree in business administration that included a minor in marketing and graphic design.

Jon was entrepreneurial at an early age. By fifteen, he was holding a job as a lifeguard while also working at a garden center and a local country club. He used his time at the country club to learn what he could from the business executives who frequented it.

It took only one semester at Caldwell for Jon to decide on business administration as a major. He powered through courses in every business subject from accounting to marketing, to prepare himself for all aspects of entrepreneurship. He was building a foundation for his dream.

Jon snowboarded professionally while a student at Caldwell, competing at major contest series such as the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, a U.S. Olympic Team qualifying event. In 2010, he ranked among the top 100 snowboarders worldwide. Jon continued his jobs at the pool and garden center, saving money for the future and learning to balance multiple demands—yet more preparation for success as an entrepreneur.

After college, Jon invested in, operated, re-branded, and later sold Action Sports Media, LLC, publisher of Snowboarding magazine. He grew Turbine Outerwear from a $500,000 business to a $4.2 million operation, revamping its brand, team roster, sales force, and advertising strategy. His snowboarding expertise led to research and development for the snowboard, binding, boot, and apparel industries. In 2008, Jon had experience to match his education, and he founded Launch Snowboards. By 2012, Transworld Business named Launch a “brand to watch.”

Today, Launch Snowboards is an international brand, widely viewed as a game changer in the industry. Callahan prides himself on his company’s commitment to research and testing, and to producing premium performance products. He is equally passionate about giving back to the community. The company’s Rip and Recycle program channels used boards to local nonprofit youth organizations; any boards that are no longer rideable are fully recycled into new ones. Launch is also an Official Partner of Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC), an organization that promotes early detection, active lifestyles, and lifelong wellness.

Jon is a member of the highly selective, invitation-only Young Entrepreneur Council. In addition, Jon serves on the advisory board of Brainguard Technologies, a firm that is working to reduce traumatic brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy through design of a multi-shell helmet safety system.


MARCELLA (MARCIE) MATOS WILSON ’87

Excellence in Family Law

Marcie embodies all that we strive for at Caldwell. The daughter of emigrant parents, Marcie grew up in Newark’s Ironbound community. By the time she enrolled at Caldwell College, she was a single mother with two children.

Marcie’s parents instilled in her an exemplary work ethic and taught her how to stand strong, even when faced with having to “do more with less.” They believed passionately in their daughter’s potential. After his own long working days, Marcie’s father would read her law books so that they could discuss concepts and cases. Her determination and talent led to a law degree from Seton Hall University and clerkships with the Honorable John J. Dois and the Honorable Joseph A. Falcone.

Her career flourished, and she served as Prosecutor in Fairfield and Bloomfield, New Jersey. Today, Marcie serves as a judge for the Family Division of the Vicinage 5 Superior Court in New Jersey, which presides over Essex County.

In addition to the demands of her role in the legal system, Marcie is active in the community. She is a champion of women’s rights and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fairview Lake YMCA Camps. She desires to be the voice of parents, small businesses and the working class, and is not afraid to challenge the system to provide others with the means to achieve their dreams.

Marcie is the proud recipient of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Eagle Award for her outstanding contributions to crime victims and their families.