USJ Alumni Association announces 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) recipients

Left to right: Linda Estabrook ‘77; Caitlin Meyer, M’18; Brian Mylod; and Lois Nesci ’85, M’87 

The University of Saint Joseph Alumni Association has announced its Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA) recipients for 2023. They are Linda Estabrook ‘77; Caitlin Meyer, M’18; Brian Mylod; and Lois Nesci ’85, M’87.  

The four award winners will be honored on Friday, Sept. 15 at the Hartford Golf Club

Since 1974, the USJ Alumni Association has presented the Distinguished Alumni Awards annually to outstanding alumni and University community members. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award Committee embraces the following definition of the term Distinguished Alumni: Individuals who, because of superior and extraordinary achievements, have brought credit to themselves and to the University of Saint Joseph. 

Linda Estabrook ’77 will receive The Business and Entrepreneurial Award. Estabrook recently retired from the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective (HGLHC), where she served as Executive Director for 34 years. HGLHC began with health professionals who volunteered to serve the marginalized LGBTQ+ population in the community. Under Estabrook’s leadership, the agency grew from one person to a staff of 11 with a budget of $1 million. In 1989, when she began working at HGLHC, the agency tested individuals for HIV, well before the development of effective treatments. In recent years, when COVID and MPox broke out, HGLHC quickly developed plans for messaging, testing, and prevention. Today, the organization advocates for and provides a range of services, referrals, and resources to individuals of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. With Estabrook’s leadership, HGLHC has received numerous awards including the Connecticut Public Health Association IRA V. Hiscock Award for advancing public health through public service, education, advocacy and leadership; and the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut President’s Award. Estabrook has received the Susan S. Addiss Award in Public Health Practice; the Dorothy Award for Leadership in Health for the LGBTQ+ community; and the Spirit of Community Award Lifetime of Service, promoting health, well-being, and justice. 

Caitlin Meyer will receive The Catherine McAuley Award. Meyer serves as the Director of Programs and Talent Development for Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport, Conn. where she facilitates the intellectual and professional development of teachers and AmeriCorp Fellows. She is an alumna of the Off-Campus Master’s Program, Class of 2018, where she now serves as an adjunct. Two of Meyer’s biggest passions are her work with students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), and arts-based education. Meyer has used art and music to promote a greater understanding of how to develop teacher leaders from new educators and meet the needs of all students. She is the founder of the Qingdao Educators Association, a nonprofit in China that provides professional development and networking opportunities to both foreign-born and Chinese national teachers. Meyer serves on the board of the Connecticut Wind Symphony, where she connects local music teachers with performance opportunities for their students. Her honors and awards are numerous: the Steans Fellowship for School Culture and Climate Development (Chicago), Queen’s University Belfast Teaching Fellow (Belfast, Northern Ireland), TALMA Teacher Educator Fellow (Ongoing Israel), selected Director for The 2nd Annual Youth and Young Adult Choir Festival for the Epiphany (Vatican), selected Director for the 5th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Festival (Washington, D.C.), and selected Director for the American Pueri Cantores National Festival (New York City).  

Brian J. Mylod will receive The Winifred E. Coleman Service Award. Mylod held senior executive positions with insurance and investment organizations including Keefe, Bruyette and Woods before founding Advisory One, a certified investment advisory group based in Farmington, Conn., in 1993. He became a partner at Private Capital Group LLC after his company was purchased by the group, a role he served until his retirement in 2017. After retirement, he sought an opportunity to invest his energy and talent in a cause he believed in. His search brought him to USJ’s Office of Institutional Advancement where he served as a full-time volunteer from 2018 through April of 2023. Mylod has welcomed hundreds of people to the USJ campus, making alumni feel like they have come home, and making newcomers feel that they are part of the USJ community. He has helped students secure summer jobs and internships and has personally arranged for elderly and disabled fans to attend USJ athletic events. He was the keynote speaker at the University’s Remembrance Ceremony on the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His graciousness, warmth, hospitality and value for the dignity of each person is evident with every person he meets. Over the last five years, Mylod has volunteered approximately 4,000 hours and has been instrumental in securing significant funding for the University. He helped to create the Blue and Gold Club which supports interest in USJ Athletics, and he has increased community awareness and attendance at games. He also helped to create the Bruyette Facilities Fund which has raised more than $500,000 to support upkeep and improvements to the Bruyette Athenaeum, the Bruyette Natatorium, and the Calhoun Legacy Fund, which has raised nearly $1 million for student support and retention. Mylod has been instrumental in engaging dozens of individuals who had not previously been involved with USJ, enhancing the University’s long-term financial strength. When the tennis complex was in desperate need of renovation, he secured the lead gift of $200,000. Serving as a true ambassador, Mylod has enhanced the University’s community profile and personified USJ’s Core Values. 

Lois Nesci ’85, M’87 will receive The Sister Mary Rosa McDonough Award. Lois Nesci is the Chief Executive Officer for Gándara Mental Health Center in Springfield, Mass., which provides behavioral health, substance use and recovery; youth, young adult, and family services; and an array of programs focused on culturally sensitive care throughout the state. With about 1,100 employees providing services at 100 different sites, the mission of the Center is to advocate for and provide programs to the underserved in its communities. In 2022 Nesci was instrumental in securing funding to relocate the Center’s corporate office to the heart of Springfield to enhance visibility and accessibility. Under her leadership the agency has also expanded to provide new programs for people with behavioral health needs. Nesci currently serves as a Board member of Catholic Charities in Springfield, Children’s League of Massachusetts, and the Association for Behavioral Health. She is also a Member of the Massachusetts Providers Council Public Policy Committee. She has served as the CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Hartford and has been appointed to the Connecticut Governor’s cabinet of Nonprofit Health and Human Services. Nesci’s professional career has focused on leadership and commitment to growing women leaders through mentorship and coaching.  As an alumna of USJ, Lois served on the board of the Hartford Alumni Club, President of the Alumni Council, and Board of Trustees. She has hosted several area events for USJ alumni, and participated in many reunions, appreciation events, and USJ’s 90th Anniversary liturgy.