Our Board of Directors
Meet Our Board Chair: Mark Ryan '81
For 32 years, Mark Ryan has been involved in business transactions as an attorney for Reid and Reige, P.C., in Hartford.
“The personal satisfaction is working very intensely with people over a relatively short period and getting them a good result,” Ryan said. “Sometimes these are people you did not know, or knew very little, beforehand. Having someone trust you to sell the family business, sometimes one in the family for multiple generations, getting them through the emotional roller coaster of the process, and then seeing the look of gratitude on their face is a very special feeling.”
That he has worked for the same firm for more than three decades brings to mind a sense of loyalty and service. That he views these business transactions in a personal way brings to mind caring and compassion.
All of which are values that Xavier High School tries to instill. He will bring all of that to his new role as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Xavier. Ryan '81 started his term after having spent seven years on the board, the past two as Vice Chair.
He knows what the school means to him and so many others.
“My goals start with ‘First, do no harm.’ We have something that works very well and cannot screw that up,” Ryan said. “Second is to focus on finding things we can improve at the edges. This includes working with the Xaverian Congregation to make sure we are doing what we need to remain properly focused on the Xaverian Mission. That is our brand, and it is the basis for 50-plus years of success. Third is the eternal battle to find more resources – time, treasure and talent – to ease the struggles our administration, faculty and students face in continuing the tradition of excellence.”
Ryan comes to this mission with an understanding of the challenges.
“I was first approached to join the Xavier Board by two classmates, Bob Guere, who later became our first alumnus to serve as Board chair; and Brian Hetherington,” Ryan said. “Their pitch went something like this: ‘This school does so much for so many with so little. We have all been blessed to benefit from that. Now it’s your turn to give back.’
“The first part of that has stuck with me during my seven years on the Board. I have become all too aware of exactly how limited Xavier’s resources are. And yet the school has continued to succeed at all levels. This is seen in all the awards and championships and college acceptance lists, and even more in the community leadership of the alumni and on the faces of the students every time I step in the building. And it is particularly seen in how well the school has to date navigated virtual classes and all of the other challenges of the COVID crisis, and the broader demographic crisis faced by high schools across Connecticut.”
Ryan grew up in Middletown and attended now-closed St. John’s School at the end of Main Street in the North End. From there he went to Xavier. He rattled off the names of seven classmates that he went to school with from kindergarten through Xavier, and another eight that were part of it, though not all 13 years. Two are on the Xavier board now, George Keithan and Bernie Hallums.
“A similar group from St. John’s went through Mercy,” Ryan said. “It’s pretty amazing from a coed, grammar school class that never exceeded 40 students.”
Ryan said Xavier provided him with some of his closest friendships, great memories and the “tools for whatever success I have had in life. That starts with the big picture of outlook: have faith and trust in it; be respectful of others; be empathetic toward others; understand authority and respect it, which includes questioning when appropriate; understand your God-given gifts and make the most of them; be thankful; be a productive member of a community and work to improve it; be competitive, meaning understand life has few entitlements and success has to be earned, but operate within the rules, because shortcuts lead to little of value.
“These attributes,” Ryan said, “were personified by Br. Jim Boyle and all of the other Brothers I encountered who set the tone at Xavier, as well as an amazing faculty and staff. They are components of what we now refer to as ‘Mission.’ I don’t recall a formal term back then; they were just parts of an overall expectation of what it meant to ‘Be a Man.’ The adult leadership in the building drilled it into us, but it took root because we saw them living it themselves. My failures in life can all be traced to failing to live up to one or more of those values.
“Beyond those basics, Xavier built and rounded out some things I received from God and my parents, mainly being intellectual curiosity and work ethic. On the first, I arrived at Xavier with a pretty good brain, some sound skills in grammar, and a love of history and politics, but limited literature, math and science backgrounds, and none at all in foreign language. Though Xavier, and later my undergraduate years at Georgetown, I came to love learning on all fronts, and to find that bits of knowledge from any one subject could help with understanding the others – all things that have served me well as a practicing lawyer. I give special credit to teachers across disciplines for helping me develop that, and in particular to John Montemerlo, Br. Brian Casey, Bob Michalski, Br. Tom Klar, Br. David Cichon, Br. Joe Pawlika, Michele Orrill, and Br. Larry Nyhon.
“As to work ethic, the rigor of Xavier was not something I was initially prepared for. I have special thanks for Br. David Eddy and Br. William Ciganek on that score. But most of all, I am forever grateful to Coach McHugh. I arrived at Xavier with brains, but not athletic gifts. Through Coach, I learned that even those not particularly talented can have a role if they put in the effort.”
He also gives special thanks to a classmate and friend, Ron Cozean, who just happens to be another member of the Board of Directors. Cozean was the valedictorian and Ryan was the salutatorian. They went through every class together in their four years at Xavier.
“Our extremely friendly rivalry drove me for four years to accomplish things I otherwise would not have at Xavier, and set a standard that has served me very well in college, law school, and my legal practice,” Ryan said.
Ryan has three children, a son and two daughters, and follows the Mets and Giants as well as Georgetown basketball and Notre Dame football. He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University and cum laude from University of Notre Dame School of Law.
Board of Directors
Atty. Mark Ryan ’81, Chair
Mr. William Rotatori, Vice Chair
Atty. Richard Carella ‘84
Rev. David Choquette ‘90
Mrs. Ellen Ciampi
Dr. Jacob Conca
Mr. James Coughlin ’84
Mr. Ronald Cozean ‘81
Atty. Brian Farrell ‘86
Mr. Jack Gastler ‘74
Mr. Bernard Hallums ‘81
Mr. Scott Jenkins ‘85
Mr. George V. Keithan, Jr. ‘81
Deacon Kevin McCormack
Mr. Neil Mitchill ‘93
Mr. Peter Mondani ‘75
Mr. Jeffery Muzio ‘84
Mr. William Nadeau, Jr. ’94
Mr. Michael Picard ’83