Gilmour Academy’s Alumni Association honored a City of Cleveland official and a community activist as its 2008 Alumni of the Year. Edward W. Rybka ’73, director of the City of Cleveland Department of Building and Housing, and Michelle Brennan Stefan ’84, a Gilmour volunteer and former board member of the Lower School Parents Organization, were honored at the Headmaster’s Christmas Party. The award honors Gilmour graduates who have distinguished themselves in their personal lives and careers, and who have demonstrated leadership and service to the Academy.
Rybka served nearly five terms on the Cleveland City Council and represented the Broadway-Slavic Village community. In 2006, Mayor Frank Jackson appointed Rybka building and housing director with the responsibility of overseeing 165 employees and an operating budget of almost $11 million. Rybka was assistant director of the Cleveland Department of City Planning and served on the Cleveland Community Relations Board and the Governing Board of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
The 1973 Gilmour graduate received his undergraduate degree from John Carroll University and his juris doctorate from Cleveland State University’s Marshall College of Law. He is active in Gilmour’s Alumni Parents Organization and is co-chair of the alumni parents subcommittee for Promise and Renewal: The Capital and Endowment Campaign for Gilmour Academy. A past trustee of St. Alexis Hospital and president of two nonprofits focusing on housing and the environment, Rybka has received numerous civic awards. He and his wife Jan, district administrator of the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, are the parents of two Gilmour alums. Their son Keith graduated from Gilmour in 2005 and is a student at Niagara University; daughter Hallie is at Loyola College of Maryland in Baltimore and graduated from the Academy in 2008.
Michelle Stefan was recording secretary of the Lower School Parents Organization during the 2007-2008 school year. She was co-chair of the Lower School magazine drive and volunteered on the silent auction committee for its Lunch with Santa event. Stefan has served as a class representative for Alumni Reunion Weekend, a sponsor of Gilmour’s Golf Classic, a member of Gilmour’s Blue & Gray Society, and a first grade homeroom coordinator.
A 1984 Gilmour graduate, Stefan earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Florida International University and plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. The alum was vice president of operations for Brennan Industries, which supplies hydraulic tube fixtures and adapters to industry. She is a member of the Chagrin Valley Women’s League and schedules Santa visits in her community. Stefan raised $5,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund when she and her mother Marilyn Brennan walked 60 miles in the Stefan and her husband Michael, president of Marketing Foundations, Inc., have two sons who are Gilmour Lower School students, Matthew and Dylan.