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Veritas Award 2002

Excellence in Communication for the Deaf
MaryAnne Covich Kowalczyk ’61

Mary Anne Kowalczyk was introduced to the cultural needs of the Deaf when she began American Sign Language interpreting classes.  She was aware of their communication needs since her daughter, Kathleen, then 27 years old, was born deaf. This new awareness convinced her of the need for advocacy and education within the hearing community about those with a hearing loss, the Deaf, the deaf, the hard-of-hearing and the late-deafened. She founded The Communication Connection with her husband, Frank, which provides lectures, consultations, American Sign Language instruction and referrals for families, professionals, schools, agencies and employers.

MaryAnne has extensive experience in the areas of employment staffing, training, editing, publishing, program planning and development.  She is the co-creator of the first 365-day American Sign Language teaching calendar to assist the hearing in learning the language of the Deaf community. She has written numerous articles for national publications on the topic of Deafness as difference, not “disability” and has been recognized by both the National and the New Jersey Associations of the Deaf for her advocacy in Deaf Awareness.

MaryAnne has been a Board Member of Parents for Deaf Awareness since 1991 and has held the positions of Vice President for Programming and Editor of the organization’s quarterly magazine. In July 1999, she was appointed to the Clifton Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities which reviews municipal buildings and other services, including communication services, to ensure that there is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She is also a member of the National Association of the Deaf, the New Jersey Association of the Deaf, the American Society for Deaf Children, Parents for Deaf Awareness, the Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People, the National Family Association for the Deaf-Blind and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

MaryAnne received her B.A. in Social Studies and Elementary Education from Caldwell College and subsequently completed two years of the Deaf Studies and Sign Language Interpreting in American Sign Language at Union County College.  She and her husband, Frank, have four children: Kathleen, Mary Frances, Paul, and Elizabeth and three grandchildren: Jacob, Abigail and Michelle.

Excellence in Legal Marketing
Rita Finn Menz ’67

Rita Finn Menz has been a pioneer in the field of legal marketing for the past twelve years. She was the first in-house marketing professional for three law firms ranging from 50 to 120 attorneys.  She currently holds the position of Director of Client Relations for Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP, a 180-attorney litigation and commercial firm in Manhattan. In this position, Rita supports the marketing efforts of attorneys with a variety of public relations, advertising and marketing initiatives, business development including the implementation of various programs and activities, and the development of promotional materials to support the marketing efforts of firm attorneys. She supervises both internal staff and outside vendors.

Before choosing a career in legal marketing, Rita developed her public relations and marketing skills as Associate Director of Public Relations for WLMW and Associates Advertising, Inc. in West Orange and, later, Poppe Tyson Advertising and Public Relations in Morris Plains.

Rita’s knowledge of Caldwell College goes far beyond her years as a student and her Bachelor cum laude degree in English.  She was hired as the College’s first Public Relations Director, and later held the position of Director of Alumni Relations.  Rita has also served as President and Board member for the Alumni Association and served as chairman and publicity chairman for the Veritas Awards Committee from 1986 until 1998.

Rita is currently Immediate Past President of the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association after serving as President in 2001 and holding several other Board positions.  She has been an active member of the Law Marketing Association on a national level since 1990, chairing both the Member Services and Awards Committees for several years. She has served as Chairman of the Marketing Committee of the New York City Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators since 1999.

When her children were school-age, Rita served as a Coach and Judge in the competitive Olympics of the Mind program, a co-chair of the Chester PTA’s first annual dinner and fashion show and chaired the Chester Girl Scout cookie program for two years.  She was also a member of the finance committee for Project Link Educational School, Newark during its formative years.

Throughout her career, Rita has striven to maintain a balance between profession and family and has been supported by her husband, Norman, and her children: Leslie, Norman, Meredith and Catherine, who is currently a Caldwell student.

Excellence in Artistic Design
Margaret Poltorak-Keyes ’75

While Margaret’s career has taken many directions, art and design have been the constant informing forces in all of them; from visual merchandising to photography, from floral design to museum exhibition design.

After completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Caldwell, Meg worked in visual merchandising for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in New York City.  During her final years in retail, she was a creative service designer for Polo/Ralph Lauren’s flagship store and at his designer showrooms. At the same time, her extensive coursework in photography enabled her to start her own photography business, Silver Shutter, which lasted for sixteen years and subsidized the public exhibition of her own fine art photography.

Like any true artist, Meg constantly experimented with new forms and media and tried her hand at museum design for the Somerset County Park Commission’s Great Swamp Exhibition Hall. This positive experience led her to accept the position as exhibition designer for the Morris Museum in Morristown, N.J., which she held for over 11 years. While maintaining visual and sensory perception as a paramount focus, this particular position also emphasized in the education of the museum visitor.  Consequently, Meg gave numerous lectures and community class instruction, and was included in the National Association of Museum Exhibits award for her design in museum exhibits.

Meg is currently an independent design consultant for the museum industry, historical societies and foundations.  This consultant work has also led to design for various worship spaces including a current restoration renovation of St. Mary’s Stony Hill in Watchung, New Jersey.  Recent museum projects range from The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, The Museum Of Early Trades And Crafts in Madison, and Harding Township Historical Society in New Vernon.  She has also been called upon to design various theme fundraising events.

Beyond her profession, Meg has continued to dedicate her gifts to the Catholic Church.   Over the past 23 years, she has served the parish communities of Saint Mary’s Stony Hill, Watchung, Saint Joseph’s, North Plainfield, and Saint James the Less, Jamesburg, as a liturgical minister.  Her service to the church expanded to the preparation of flowers for the altar. This service led to a floral design business called The Flower Girls, a partnership between Margaret and her sister Anne, (Class of 1978).  Today, The Flower Girls continue to provide beautiful liturgical environments for various churches in New Jersey.

Meg is married to Timothy P. Keyes, a composer, conductor and director of music ministries at Saint Charles Borromeo in Montgomery Township.  Meg and her husband are also part of August Productions Inc., a record company in central Jersey which produces records in the classical, jazz, and pop genres.