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Legatus Bestows Honors on Exemplary Catholics at 2023 National Summit

Legatus International
March 7, 2023

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 7, 2023 /Christian Newswire/ -- At its annual national Summit in Orlando Feb. 7-9 this year, Legatus International – the renowned peer group for Catholic executives begun in 1987 by Tom Monaghan, now with over 5000 members – awarded key Catholic executives and priest-chaplains for their exemplary leadership, Catholic integrity, and shepherdship. With nearly 100 chapters nationwide and continuing expansion, Legatus remains the peer group of choice among top Catholic business leaders.

Five premier national awards were bestowed, among a number of others, to these Legatus members:

    2022 National President of the Year. As president of Legatus' Cincinnati Chapter and a member since 2019, James Akers is recognized as the chapter president who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and service – which is evidenced in the health and vibrancy of his chapter, its new-membership growth, and strong retention. His wife, Jody Akers, serves as the chapter's program chair. Mr. Akers is Chairman of Akers Packaging Service Group, with 13 facilities among six Midwestern states.

    2022 National ACE of the Year. North Atlanta Chapter member, Michael Carlton, received the ACE Award in recognition of his recruitment of the most new members over the past year. Carlton, son of former NFL football star, Wray Carlton, is Global Vice President of MiMedx, a worldwide orthopedic biologics company in medical devices. A convert to Catholicism, Carlton has launched two Catholic ministries in the Atlanta area – one called "Why Catholic" at his parish, and another (with his wife, Laurie) called MAC ("Marriages Are Covenants") for married people. He has been a guest on EWTN Radio's "Deep In Scripture," EWTN TV's "The Journey Home," and is a popular speaker.

    2022 National Chaplain of the Year. Fr. Xavy (short for Elixavier) Castro, originally from Puerto Rico, is chaplain of Legatus' Tampa Bay Chapter. He has been recognized nationally as a commendable chaplain who serves his chapter faithfully and heroically, not only for specified duties, but also through his apostolic witness in calling Legatus members to a deeper experience of Christ, His Church, and His true teachings.

    2022 National Ambassador of the Year. In recognition for his outstanding Christian witness professionally and to the broader community, Rob Reynolds of the Tampa Bay Chapter received this noteworthy award. Formerly a high school teacher who transitioned into entrepreneurship, Reynolds is founder/president of Cross Boss Media. A devoted Catholic husband and father of seven, he founded Cross Boss Media in 2018 as a faith-based media company for children. Its flagship creation, Studio 3:16, is a high-production-quality educational comedy program for schools/parishes, which makes the Gospel relevant through great storytelling, music, and humor. He is also the 2010 co-founder of Avesta, a real estate company with over $1.7 billion in assets under management and national recognition in Fortune's Top 100 Medium Workplaces. He then became a regional finalist for E&Y's international Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. He also co-founded the Society of St. Joseph, a large Tampa-based men's group.

    2022 Bowie Kuhn Award. Recognized as the member-couple exhibiting significant efforts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ among their peers – and for their noteworthy dedication to the mission of Legatus – Orange County Chapter members Rob and Bernarda (Berni) Neal received this prestigious award. Rob is a managing partner with Hager Pacific Properties, overseeing the firm's acquisitions and dispositions. An active community member, he has likewise held board positions with the Catholic University of America; Catholic Relief Services; The Papal Foundation; The Becket Fund; Catholic Leadership Institute; The Boy Scouts of America (Orange County); Second Harvest Food Bank, and Christ Catholic Cathedral Corporation. Following a career in marketing and advertising, Berni dedicates her time to evangelization and philanthropy, and serves on the boards of Catholic Leadership Institute, ENDOW, EWTN, Magnificat Foundation, Legatus, Live Action, Pueri Cantores, and Thomas Aquinas College.

A special 2022 Defender of the Faith Award was also given to Mark Houck, co-founder/president of The King's Men. Houck, who gave an impassioned guest speech at this year's Summit, was in the national news in late 2022 after his FBI arrest last September for an alleged altercation between himself and an abortion facility employee outside a Planned Parenthood location in Philadelphia. At the time of the incident, Houck was praying outside Planned Parenthood with his 12-year-old son, when a Planned Parenthood employee began harassing the boy, and Houck shoved him away. Houck was ultimately found not guilty after a months-long legal ordeal and great stress on his family. The King's Men is a nonprofit organization seeking to unite and build up men as true leaders, protectors, and providers with the goal of eliminating pornography.

For more information, photos, or to interview award winners, please contact: Christine V. Owsik, Communications Director at Legatus International. COwsik@legatus.org or 215-230-8095.

Legatus International is the singular peer group organization for Catholic CEOs and business leaders, founded in 1987 by Thomas S. Monaghan, former owner of Domino's Pizza and the Detroit Tigers. Legatus – which means "ambassador" in Latin – helps executives become exemplary Catholics in their business, community, and personal spheres of influence. With nearly 100 chapters and 5000+ members throughout the U.S. and Canada, Legatus offers members regional, national, and international networking meetings, retreats, conventions, and inspiring travel – along with the award-winning monthly Legatus Magazine. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI. www.legatus.org

SOURCE Legatus International

CONTACT: Christine V. Owsik, Communications Director, 215-230-8095, COwsik@legatus.org