Lutheran East Inducts New Distinguished Alumni

group of people holding plaques at an awards banquet

At the OMNIA gala on October 14, the Cleveland Lutheran High School Association (CLHSA) recognized the 2023 Class of Distinguished Alumni. Five Lutheran East alumni were inducted, along with one alumnus from the original Lutheran High School (Downtown). Pictured are the Lutheran East inductees at the event, along with Alumni Director Loretta Childs.

The Distinguished Alumni program recognizes those graduates who have had significant success in their professions and in their communities.  

Inducted in the 2023 class were Jennifer (Brown) Carter ’90, Clyde Elbrect ’63, Viola Hessler ’74, Jonathan Reitz ’85, Colonel Ron Schwachenwald ’56 (original Lutheran High School downtown), and Dr. Micah Wells ’07.

Jennifer (Brown) Carter graduated in the Class of 1990, then received her BS Wittenberg University and MS from Neumann College. Prior to her professional career, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer English teacher in Kenya. She founded Biashara, Inc., which is the parent company to Oak Tree Learning Centers, an acclaimed educational organization that supports students and parents, particularly children in disenfranchised communities. Carter serves on a number of boards and committees, is a published author, and holds seminars for educators and business owners. In May, Lutheran East was blessed to have her as its commencement speaker for the Class of 2023’s graduation. Jennifer is married to Leighton Carter, a fellow Lutheran East classmate, and they reside in Southern California.

Clyde Elbrecht is a 1963 graduate of Lutheran High School East. He went on to attend Kent State University and later earned his graduate degree at Wheaton College. Elbrecht worked for Campus Crusade for Christ and with The Billy Graham Association, positions that allowed him to focus on high school ministry, starting teen ministries overseas, and facilitating technology and equipment for the Gospel to be heard around the world. Elbrecht was then called to business and – through his ventures – aims to use his business successes to give back through ministry. Professionally and personally, Elbrecht and his family and employees offer ministry and practical assistance to organizations throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Viola Hessler is a 1974 graduate of Lutheran High School East, and subsequently attended Valparaiso University where she earned her degree in Accounting. Professionally, she worked for the firm Peat Marwich, which is currently well-known Accounting firm KPMG, as well as served as a manager in the mortgage banking division at TransOhio Savings Bank. Viola became a dedicated mother to four children and a dedicated and impactful member of the Lutheran community in Northeast Ohio. She spent years serving on the CLHSA Board of Directors and serving the schools in other capacities, such as in the drama department, in the CLHSA office, and as a Moms in Prayer leader. She has given her time and talent to Bethany Lutheran, serving as the Director of Christian Education and pioneering the church’s children’s programs. 

Jonathan Reitz is a 1985 graduate of Lutheran East. He is the CEO and Director of Education at FLUXIFY in Cleveland, which provides coaching development and training for individuals and organizations. He is a member of the International Coaching Federation, and through the IFC, he holds industry certifications and serves on the organization’s Artificial Intelligence task force. He is also a speaker at industry events and conferences. Prior to his current endeavors, Jonathan enjoyed a career in radio and television. He is active in church ministry, both locally and nationwide and he serves as a member of the board of Building Hope in the City.

Colonel Ron Schwachenwald is a 1956 graduate of the original Lutheran High School (downtown). After graduating from the University of Tampa with a degree in Business, Ron entered the United States Army and served our nation for 35 years. His impactful projects with the Department of Defense and in other notable assignments are too numerous to count. He is a decorated veteran with an incredible number of awards and achievements. Ron has worked as a civilian in government, non-profit, business, and community organizations. He serves as a sought-after consultant for both for-profit and non-profit organizations in Northeast Ohio and generously gives his time and insight to a number of community, civic, and veterans’ affairs organizations. The entire CLHSA commmunity thanks Ron and his family for their service to our country.  

Dr. Micah Wells is a 2007 graduate of Lutheran High School East. While at East, he excelled academically and athletically, and was a member of the school’s first state championship basketball team in 2005. He then went on to Tennessee State University, where he studied Health Sciences and Therapeutic Studies; and subsequently earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Howard University. Dr. Wells lives and works in Washington, DC, where he is the founder and CEO of The Micah Touch Sports Performance and Physical Therapy Services. His focus is on improving the overall athletic performance and recovery of athletes at all levels. Dr. Wells is the Vice President of the American Physical Therapy Association’s DC chapter.

More extensive bios for each Distinguished Alumnus (this class and previously inducted classes) can be found here.