OLGC Graduate of the Year Remembers Alma Mater Fondly

"Jo" Lomurno Damato will be honored during a special assembly this afternoon as Our Lady of Good Counsel kicks off Catholic Schools Week.

Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) will honor its Graduate of the Year, Joanne Lomurno Damato, during a special ceremony today, as part of its Catholic Schools Week celebration.

Damato (class of '89) supplied the school with a short profile, which the school shared with Moorestown Patch.

Damato will be recognized during an assembly at 1:15 p.m. today. Read on to find out more about this esteemed graduate:

Joanne (Jo) Lomurno Damato

Parents: Michaele & Jerry Lomurno, of Moorestown

Education: Florida Institute of Technology (’97), B.S. Aviation Management and Flight Technology; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (’04), M.S. in Aviation Safety & Management

My favorite memories (of OLGC): class trips to Franklin Institute; skiing; the eighth grade trip to New York City; the Catholic Schools Week pep rally, watching the cheerleaders, and as a cheerleader; the May processions; being in the Christmas play as Santa; emceeing the talent show; fun at recess with my lifelong friends; trading stickers, making friendship bracelets, singing songs.

I love OLGC. I made all of my sacraments there except for my baptism. I was married at OLGC. One of my sons was baptized there and the other has made his First Reconciliation and his First Holy Communion there and I hope they will continue to make their sacraments there—maybe even meet nice Good Counsel girls to marry there themselves one day!

My husband is Catholic and his parents just celebrated 50 years of marriage. My parents just marked 47 years of marriage. Their examples and values and faith are instilled in my husband and me. We wanted to share that with our boys. We’ve lived in Florida, Cincinnati and Northern Virginia and always intended for our Catholic faith to be an important part of our children’s’ lives wherever we lived. By the time Dean was 4 we were committed to finding a way to move from Virginia to the Good Counsel area. I am  so fortunate to be home—after 17 years of living far away—and I love being able to give my children some of the same wonderful experiences and the ability to create memories with lifelong friends through the OLGC family.

What I do professionally:
I trained to be a pilot. I only wanted to be an airline pilot. I knew that when I was very young and never wavered on that goal until I was about 22. At that time, I was exposed to the management side of aviation and a new segment of the industry, business aviation. I took a position with an aviation management company in 1998 and never looked back. While I am still a certified flight instructor and I enjoy flying for leisure, it is very difficult to find time to pursue that hobby as a busy working mom. My goal for 2013 is to fly more so I can take the boys up with me.

I’ve been with my current employer, the National Business Aviation Association, since 2001. I’m the director of educational development and strategy. I’m fortunate they let me work for them remotely in New Jersey and I travel as needed. Since my husband is an airline pilot, working from home allows me the flexibility I need to stay on top of the household while working so I can make the most of my downtime with the boys.  

I also write a column for Aviation for Women magazine. Many women in aviation worry that being a mom and a wife may be too tricky while fulfilling an aviation career. The goal of my column is to promote the reality that you can have an aviation career in a household with two working parents who travel frequently, and also have a happy and fulfilling marriage and home life.

What is Sky Hope Network?
In 2010 I found myself in a position where I could use my aviation connections to come to the aid of a family with a sick child. They lived in Virginia but needed to get their infant to MD Anderson in Houston for his six-week-long cancer treatment. I was able to use my connections to get them a private jet to take them and their other three children to Houston and home again, and I was able to work with a countless number of people in my industry to get them to donate hotel points, ground transportation and other items to help this family logistically during their stay so their primary focus would be on their son’s treatment. This experience changed me. Other colleagues had similar experiences using business aviation aircraft to help with Haiti relief work after the devastating earthquake. Together, the five of us decided to start our own charity—Sky Hope Network—with the mission of using business aviation to provide relief in emergencies. We are all volunteers who still work full-time and balance our family life while furthering Sky Hope’s mission.

On her love for OLGC:
It’s really cool some of the same people who were at OLGC when I was here are still there. Two of the people who are dear to me are Miss Sullivan and Dr. Dix. Miss Sullivan taught all three of my older brothers and my younger sister. Sully taught us math in a way that made me love numbers and doing mental math. She may have been tough, but it was always clear she loved her students and any lesson she had for us was about making us better—as human beings and at math. Even today, friends of mine from OLGC talk about her fondly.

Dr. Dix was my eighth grade homeroom teacher. It was cool that she was both a teacher and a mom at the school. Her quiet but commanding manner contributed to my love of writing and she has always been someone I admire for her commitment to her faith and the ways her career has grown to help so many others commit to theirs. I know she is still there for me today and I’d bet many people in the school and parish feel the same way. It is surreal sometimes talking to Miss Sullivan and Dr. Dix as a grown-up and as a mom with my own kids in the school.
The school really hasn’t changed that much since I’ve graduated. It is still–to me–a safe haven and I hope it will always be for my kids as well. I know very real things happened while we were there—we all remember when TVs were wheeled into our classrooms when the Challenger tragedy happened—but it really is a place where I felt protected from much of the outside world.

My children are being brought up in God’s love everywhere they go, whether they are at home or at school, the same way my siblings and friends and I were. I am excited the school is embracing technology and I think it is just as important to incorporate new ways of learning through this technology into the curriculum as it is to preserve some of the old ways, such as an emphasis on cursive writing and using proper grammar in written communication.

Honestly though, when I walk the halls of OLGC I really just feel like the girl who grew up there hearing the echoes of my friends laughter and our happy footsteps. For me, OLGC is a place of good memories. I hope my children will reflect on their time as students nearly a quarter of a century after they graduate and can say the same things. Maybe their children will even be Good Counsel students!

Courtesy of Our Lady of Good Counsel School

Michelle Molz January 28, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Jo is a wonderful mom and dedicated PTA volunteer. We are so blessed to have her and her family supporting Our Lady of Good Counsel School!
Linda Halpin January 28, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Jo, I too graduate from OLGC. You have described many of my own feelings, including my desire to get back to NJ so my kids could attend OLGC. I wanted them to have the wonderful experience I had at OLGC. Miss Sullivan was my teacher, too. She was one of the best teachers ever!! I love watching my children grow in faith as I did at OLGC. Congratulations, Jo!!


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