Four Leaders Recognized for their Contributions to Values-Driven Leadership

Center for Values-Driven Leadership Article, Leadership, Press Release, Values-Driven Leaders

Chicago, Illinois (May 29, 2020) ~ Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL) announces the winners of four awards in values-driven leadership, granted biennially by the Center.


“With these awards, we’re shining a light on exceptional, values-driven leaders who have a transformative impact on business and society,” says Dr. Jim Ludema, director of the Center and a professor of global leadership with Benedictine University.

The awards will be presented on May 30, 2020, during a virtual celebration of the Center’s recent graduates. The four awards and 2020 honorees are:

Outstanding Dissertation Award: Selected by the faculty and awarded for each cohort of students, to the author of a dissertation notable for its outstanding quality and contribution to the field.

This year, the selected dissertation was, Benevolent Leadership and Upward Spirals of Positive Change: A Mixed Methods Study,” by Dr. Nancy Sayer (2018 graduate). Sayer is a partner and practice management director with InterconneXion Consulting, a boutique firm that helps mission-focused businesses translate values into action and ignite positive change.

“Nancy’s dissertation was ambitious in its scope and substantive in its findings,” says Ludema, who chaired Sayer’s dissertation committee. “She found that spiritual depth and service to the broader community were the dimensions that most distinguished leaders high in benevolent leadership from those low in benevolent leadership, and they were also the dimensions most significantly correlated with perceived organizational performance.”

Distinguished Alumni Award: Presented to a graduate of the executive Ph.D./D.B.A. Program who exemplifies the mission of the CVDL, “to help values-driven leaders develop themselves and others, build flourishing companies, and transform business and society.” 

This year’s honoree is Dr. Lisa Ruiz (2018 graduate), senior director for regulatory portfolio management with AbbVie and a 2018 graduate of the Center. In addition to her career with AbbVie, Ruiz volunteers her expertise with the International Leadership Association, the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, and the Center.

“Lisa has an exceptional track record of generous service,” says Ludema. “Her influence is significant and she’s having a transformative impact on business and society.”

Outstanding Service Award: Given to a graduate or friend of the CVDL who has helped advance the mission and work of the Center by serving generously.

Winner of this year’s award is Dr. Patrick Farran (2018 graduate). Farran is co-founder and CEO of the Ad Lucem Group, a boutique consulting firm, and the associate director of graduate business career services for University of Notre Dame.

“He is the first to raise his hand to serve, with our Center and with the broader community,” says Ludema. Farran serves as a mentor in the 1871 and Workbox start-up communities and provides extensive pro-bono strategic support services through Ad Lucem Group.

During this pandemic, he’s also leveraged his career coaching experience to provide pro bono transition coaching and support services to a dozen individuals who have lost work, has written grants for organizations in need, and has supported dozens more of his own students as they’ve worked to rebound from lost internships and full-time offers. “This is the embodiment of values-driven leadership,” says Ludema.

Values-Driven Leadership Award: Awarded to an external scholar or practitioner associated with the CVDL who has exemplified values-driven leadership throughout his or her career.

Students graduating this spring from the Center’s doctoral program in values-driven leadership honored a distinguished visiting scholar who taught in the university’s executive Ph.D./D.B.A. Program. The honoree is Dr. Ronald Fry.

Fry is a professor of organizational behavior with Case Western Reserve University and co-creator of the Appreciative Inquiry methodology, a groundbreaking process that has had a profound impact on the way organizations develop leaders and implement change. As a distinguished visiting scholar, he teaches alongside Benedictine faculty members for two courses, Leading Teams, and Leading Change.

In selecting Fry for this award, the members of Cohort 4 noted that he was a calm and caring presence in the classroom, a master at creating spaces in which students could self-discover and grow, and a deeply insightful thinker whose ideas dramatically changed the way they see and lead their teams and organizations.

“Ron’s scholarship is ground-breaking, changing the way organizations lead collaborative change,” says Ludema. “His contributions to scholarship and our program are significant and enduring.”


Contact Amber Johnson, 630.829.2173 or

More information on the executive doctoral program and its graduates can be found at


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