Reunion Weekend Gathers Friends, Recognizes Achievements

six women
  • Belonging

Merion Mercy Academy classes ending in 3 and 8 celebrated their milestone reunions this past weekend, beginning with an open house and awards assembly on Friday afternoon. The first annual awards assembly recognized four alumnae who have distinguished themselves professionally and within the school community. This year’s recipients were:

Bridget Kelly ’73 - Distinguished Alumnae Award 

Given to an alumna who has reached the highest level in her field and has demonstrated exceptional talent within her career, the Distinguished Alumnae Award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the ideals of a Mercy education and has used the visibility, power, or leadership of her position to better the community and serve the greater good.

After earning her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Penn State University, Bridget Kelly dedicated 30 years of her career to public education with a focus on secondary education. She served as a guidance counselor, assistant principal, high school principal at two different schools, and district director of student services.

Following an incredibly successful career as an educator, Bridget’s Mercy spirit called her to new humanitarian roles. You can read her impressive biography here

During the assembly, Bridget referred to her Distinguished Alumnae Award as “the honor of a lifetime.” She then proceeded to reference her volunteer experiences in Haiti and reminded the audience of students, alumnae, family and friends to experience “moments that challenge our core values.”

Lisa Nicolella Farrell ’78 and Leslie Drialo Ryan '78 - Spirit of Mercy Award

This award honors an alumna who has given of her time and talent for the benefit of Merion Mercy Academy. The awardee serves as an ambassador for MMA and has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to the school. She has a passion for Merion Mercy’s mission to educate young women in academics and faith. 

The Spirit of Mercy Award was presented to 1978 classmates Lisa Nicolella Farrell and Leslie Drialo Ryan. According to Coordinator of Alumnae Relations Barbara Harrison ’82, “In the world of Merion Mercy, it is hard to imagine one without the other. Both women stand out as faithful volunteers, loyal donors, and women who have tirelessly advocated for and advanced the legacy of Merion Mercy.” To read of their contributions to MMA, as well as their professional accomplishments and community service, visit our website

During the awards assembly, Lisa spoke for both herself and Leslie when she said, “A Mercy education is a gift to be treasured. Mercy is a way of life and calls us to a heart of service.”

Jillian Mariutti-Nieder '03 - Young Alumnae Award

Recognizing established and future leaders among Merion Mercy alumnae who have graduated in the past 20 years, the Young Alumnae Awardee has shown great promise and accomplishment in her chosen profession and/or in community, public or humanitarian service, demonstrating leadership and substantial commitment to the mission of Merion Mercy.

After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Mathematics, Jillian Mariutti-Nieder launched an impressive career filled with professional honors and recognition. Today she is a Senior Director on JLL’s Debt and Equity Financing team in New York where she arranges and structures real estate capital on an exclusive basis for the nation’s premier owners, investors, and developers. 

In her remarks (video available here), Jillian offered the students three pieces of advice to help them become strong, confident, compassionate leaders:

  1. Limitations exist only in your head so change your thinking accordingly. 

  2. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% about how you react. Remember, your attitude is everything. 

  3. Have an attitude of gratitude.  

Read more about Jillian

Also recognized during the awards assembly was Patricia Carbine ‘48, who was in attendance for her 75th reunion. Pat is the co-founder of Ms. magazine and distinguished herself as a trailblazer for women in the publishing industry. 

The weekend ended on Saturday when more than 200 alumnae gathered for Mass in the convent chapel, followed by a reception.

  • reunion