Travis Manion Foundation Leadership Program

The Prep proudly partners with the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF), a non-profit organization that unites veterans, Gold Star Families, community organizations and schools to build America's character and the next generation of leaders.

At the Prep, TMF pairs veterans of recent wars with our students in a "leadership academy" in the fall and spring semesters. This program, the first of its kind in the nation, develops students' identities as leaders and their understanding of virtues-based leadership. Prep students also work side by side veterans and community organizations in service events across the city in honor of the fallen.

News & Events

Fall 2019 Leadership Academy Applications Now Available

Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors interested in the Fall Leadership Academy need to apply by Thursday, 9/26 by clicking here.

Leadership Week, 3/25 – 3/29

Theme: Springing into Action
Sponsored by the TMF Hawks as part of SJP's Year in Citizenship

The Prep’s Leadership Week hopes to awaken and renew our students' call to be leaders of faith, service, humility and generosity with a focus on those leadership ideals at the heart of our Jesuit identity and mission. As part of the Prep's Year in Citizenship, Leadership Week will offer opportunities for students to examine their accountability in their roles Men for and With Others in daily school activities, both in and out of the classroom, in ways that are routine yet rooted in the call to serve the greater good. For more information contact TMF moderator, Ms. Susie Cook at

  • Monday: Ryan Manion, President of the Travis Manion Foundation, will speak at a whole-school assembly in the Gesu during Community. In light of Fr. Polanco S.J.'s ideal vision of a "good citizen," Manion will speak about what it means to be a leader and citizen in the modern age. Manion is a recent graduate of the Bush Presidential Center's inaugural Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program. A Catholic and Gold-Star sister leading a non-profit focused on building the next generation of leaders, Manion will complement talks given by Mayors Nutter and Kenney this year. Immediately following this talk, and throughout the day, everyone in the Prep Community will have the opportunity to put Manion’s words about service-based leadership into immediate action. The TMF Hawks are asking students and adults to serve for 10 minutes by providing feedback on a story written by an elementary school student in an underserved public school. We’ve partnered with Story Pirates Changemakers, a nationally respected education organization whose mission is to bring quality arts and education programs to underserved schools and promote family engagement in the foster and homeless communities. This non-profit celebrates the words and ideas of young people and helps to create confident, literate students equipped with a variety of tools for written, verbal and artistic self-expression. We have 300 stories written by school kids in underserved schools across the country that need our feedback. Take the lead by taking ten minutes to respond to a story in the Map Room, and receive a TMF wristband while you’re at it. Visit and for more info on both non-profits.
  • Tuesday: During Community, all are invited to Fr. Chuck Frederico’s talk on the leadership development of St. Ignatius, especially focusing on Ignatius’ formation in his early years, and how this training inspired his journey in leading others into their call. After school, the TMF Hawks will show John O’Malley S.J.’s lecture, “From Ignatius to Arrupe to Francis: A Jesuit Leadership Continuum” and facilitate a discussion on the film.
  • Thursday: The TMF Hawks invite students to a peer-to-peer workshop in which students will move through an examination of their leadership practice in light of their day-to-day lives.
  • Friday: A panel discussion including Prep alums Matt Dwyer ‘93, Chip O’Connell ‘02 and Matt Stefanski ‘03 will take place in the Theatre. Panelists will share how the Prep influenced their educational and professional journeys and how their faith informs their leadership philosophy and practice. Panelists will discuss the complexities and responsibilities of leadership in their current roles as Men for and with Others and move through a Q & A facilitated by a TMF Hawk.

Click here to read more News & Events.

Read more below to learn more about the Prep's partnership with veterans, in particular through the Travis Manion Foundation Leadership Academy and Character Does Matter Programming.

Who is Travis Manion? What does the Travis Manion Foundation do?

Travis Manion was a Doylestown, PA, native who attended Lasalle College Preparatory High School, where he graduated as a standout scholar-athlete in 1999. Travis moved onto the Naval Academy where he studied and wrestled before his commission as a United States Marine in 2004. The Manion family created the Travis Manion Foundation in the wake of Travis’ death in Iraq in 2007, when as a Marine he died protecting his unit in a sniper attack. The Foundation serves Gold Star Families through service trips that honor the legacy of the fallen, and also provides job training to veterans making the transition to civilian life. The Foundation is also committed to schools in building a future generation of virtues-based leaders.

Travis represents a generation of men and women who have selflessly served, putting their lives on the line in doing so. The Manion family is one of countless military families who embody what it means to honor. With gratitude, the St. Joe’s Prep community has been a recipient not only of the Foundation’s resources but also of this spirit of generosity and commitment that American military families embody as we work to form our country’s next generation of leaders.

How does the Prep fit into the context of TMF?

The Prep’s mission is to form “men for and with others” and values community service as an integral part of forming men of gratitude and generosity who are “loving” and “committed to doing justice.” TMF is founded these same values as it seeks to “develop character in future generations” by empowering veterans and families of fallen heroes to do so. The Prep recognizes veterans young and old as some of our nation’s finest leaders, and as such recognizes the value of veterans in our classrooms as we both work to form the “hearts, minds and souls” of young people--young people of gratitude, courage, ethical decision-making, grit, resilience and hope.

For the past four years, the Travis Manion Foundation has generously supported our mission through the Leadership Academy, Days of Service/Operation Legacy, and leadership speakers. These events are part of the Foundation's Character Does Matter programming, funded by the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

How do our missions align to form one mission?

The Prep’s mission is to form “men for and with others.” The Foundation’s mission is to “develop character in future generations”( This language reflects the one mission we share: to shape the leaders of tomorrow, leaders who are virtues-based and bent on building community through service work that unites and empowers all. The Foundation’s mantra, “If Not Me, Then Who?” embodies the idea that there is a unique call to each of us to form ourselves as leaders, and that we have a duty to heed that call to lead and serve in our communities in order to uphold the democratic ideals of this nation that so many have sacrificed their lives to defend and protect. Meanwhile, we at the Prep work to build leaders who are “competent, conscientious and compassionate,” men who live by the Grad at Grad, that is, men who are “open to growth, loving, committed to justice, religious and intellectually competent.” Veterans who volunteer at 17th and Girard, with their backgrounds as leaders and humanitarians, value our mission and animate it through their unique set of experiences and personalities; in similar fashion, we at the Prep value veterans as civic assets, and find the Foundation’s commitment to young people in a fashion that is service-based and intentional one we share.

Together, in this spirit of gratitude and generosity, we unite in the one mission to build communities through service work that honors all who have served.

When did the SJP-TMF partnership begin and why is it significant?

St. Joe’s Prep is the national model for this sort of partnership. In the fall of 2014, St. Joe’s Prep was the first high school in the nation to host such a leadership program. Four years and eight cohorts of veterans later, over 180 Prep students have taken part in the Leadership Academy, with several hundreds more taking part in semi-annual Operation Legacy service events.

This model has now caught fire in its own creative ways North Jersey, South Jersey, New York, Western PA, Chicago and San Diego.

In the fall in 2014, the first TMF-SJP Leadership Academy cohort met. Over eight Wednesday afternoons that fall, eight veterans--three Marines, a Navy Seal, a Navy vet, two Army vets, and a Coast Guard veteran, all professionals living and working in the Delaware Valley--volunteered their time in working with 20 select sophomores and juniors in discussions about virtues-based leadership qualities like integrity, moral and physical courage, grit and resilience, gratitude and hope.

As Prep ‘99 Prep grad Paul Fischer, a Navy grad and Marine veteran who worked in the first TMF Leadership Academy at the Prep in 2014, liked to say, “this is mission alignment at its best.”

Fischer’s words continue to prove and animate a model that continues to develop in dynamic ways across the country.

What is the TMF Leadership Academy?

The Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) Leadership Academy is open to Prep sophomores, juniors and seniors during fall and spring semesters. The mission of the TMF Leadership Academy is to complement and inspire the Prep's mission to form "men for and with others." The Academy is run by Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force veterans. These veterans are professionals working and living in the Delaware Valley. They interview applicants and select the cohort. The cohort then moves through 8 weeks of sessions after school in Room 102. In these sessions, veterans facilitate activities that develop the students’ identities as "virtues-based leaders." These leaders understand and act out of the fundamental principles of leadership: gratitude, generosity, hope, grit, resilience, physical and moral courage, ethical decision-making and integrity. A service project and the development of personal leadership philosophy are key components of the Academy.

What topics does the program explore?

  • Courage (Physical and Moral)
  • Courage (Personal and Moral)
  • Service To Others; Integrity
  • Grit and Resilience
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Students’ Culminating Project is Develop of Personal Leadership Philosophy

What is the basis for the Travis Manion Foundation Leadership Academy?

The largest study ever conducted on the ethical beliefs and practices of high schools students reveals some noteworthy statistics. In 2012, The Josephson Institute found that 51% of students admitted to cheating on a test, 55% to lying to a teacher about something significant, and 20% to stealing something from a store—all within the past year. And yet, interestingly, 81% of those same students agree that when it comes to doing what is right, they are better than most people they know.

Perhaps many of these students are correct in their self-assessments; perhaps, morally, the majority are “better than most people they know.” But this begs a few questions: Who are these seemingly less morally-evolved “most people”? And can we raise the ethical bar on them? How can we turn moral character that is “good enough” into moral character that is great and worthy of emulation? Who will take up this mission “If Not Me, Then Who...” mission? These are the questions that the TMF Character Does Matter Program, of which the Prep’s Leadership Academy is a part, asks.

Veterans of recent wars who are making the transition out of the military or who are already professionals working and living in cities and suburbs bring to the table a unique background and formation in leadership. The veterans who work in the Leadership Academy find in the classroom in front of young people a setting in which they can teach leadership skills as they model strong character. Veterans in the Academy are eager to educate future leaders on the values of courage, integrity, and selfless service.

The Prep, meanwhile, like the Foundation, views veterans and families of the fallen as civic assets in communities across the nation. The Travis Manion Foundation ensures that such people be recognized for the tremendous value they bring to this country and, in this case, a school community, as we both strive to form the leaders of tomorrow.

How do I apply to the program?

The Leadership Academy is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the fall and spring semesters. Applications are available online in late September and mid-February. Ms. Cook and the veteran leaders review the applications, and veterans interview each applicant. From there, veterans select the cohort for that semester.

Do I have to be part of the Leadership Academy to take part in SJP-TMF events?

No! All students are encouraged and invited to participate in two school-wide service events each fall and spring. In the fall, the Prep works with the Foundation in a National Day of Service for Veterans Day, on that Saturday before Veterans Day. In the spring, the Prep takes part in Operation Legacy, a national service event run by the Foundation. Both of these events are open to all students, in addition to any service event that the TMF Hawks organize.

Any student and family, too, can create their own volunteer project directly through the Foundation’s web page and resources. For more information on this way to engage with service through the Foundation, visit

Students who participate in these events earn service hours from Mission and Ministry for their work.

The Foundation offers plenty of opportunities to honor the fallen even beyond these. For instance, every September around the weekend of 9/11 there is a national series of 5k events called “9/11 Heroes Runs.” For more information, check out

Who are the veterans who have volunteered/mentored in the TMF Leadership Academy?

St. Joe's Prep would like to thank the veterans who have worked with our students since the TMF Leadership Academy started here in September 2014. The following veterans have generously donated their time in this shared mission to grow virtues-based leaders who are "men for and with others." In gratitude for their time, the Prep hopes alumni and families feel free to reach out to these veteran-mentors for their professional services, where applicable.


TMF-SJP Veteran Mentors

Brad Adams '07


Francis X. Adams & Sons

Eric Adelsberger


FBI Academy, Quantico

Walter Avalos


Temple Grad Student

Josh Black


Temple Grad Student

James Brobyn


Co-Founder/CEO, CauseEngine

Tom Cahill '03


Strategy Specialist, TJX

Kristi Desmaritis


Temple Physical Therapy

Neil Doogan

Charlie Elison



J.D. Candidate, Fall 2018

Program Director, TMF

Bryan Eberly


Terrence Fenningham '00




Financial Advisor, Janney Montgomery Scott


CEO, CrossfitT1, Crossfit UCity

Paul Fischer '99


Reg. Sales Manager, Boston Scientific

Mike Gravelle


MBA Candidate, Fuqua School of Bus.

Blaine Guenther

Air Force

DMD Candidate, Penn Dental

Josh Jabin


Chief of Staff, TMF

Mike Lahiff

Navy Seals

Man. Partner at Horsemen Partners

Hugo Lentze


Dir. of Strategic Partnerships, TMF

Mike Shupp



Steve Softly



U.S.                       Marsals          

Consultant at Trion Group

Shawn Soto


Cybersecurity Associate at PwC

Anthony Williamson


Jd. Candidate, Villanova Law School

Darrell Wisseman


Citizen Diplomacy International

The Prep especially thanks the Manion and Looney families for inspiring the "If Not Me, Then Who" movement at 17th and Girard and across the country.

A special thanks to Molly Boyle, Thomas Cochet, Charlie Elison, Liz Fisher and Lex Sachdev, employees of the Travis Manion Foundation who have built this empowering partnership between the nation’s veterans and Gold Star families and students, families, and alumni of St. Joseph’s Prep.

Who are the TMF Hawks?

The TMF HAWKS is a student group composed of all the students who have graduated from the TMF Leadership Academy. This "alumni" group meets monthly. The mission of the TMF HAWKS is "to catalyze the application of leadership in every SJP student through active service."

For instance, the TMF Hawks organized a school supplies drive for the George Meade Elementary School in North Philadelphia and organized a Leadership Awareness Week.Each Veterans Day, the TMF Hawks organize a massive service project to honor veterans. Each April, the TMF Hawks join the rest of the nation in TMF's Operation Legacy service project in honor of the fallen. In all of these events, veterans guide the TMF Hawks and often work alongside of them.

Click here for a list of the 2018-19 TMF HAWKS

Click here for a list of the 2017-18 TMF HAWKS

Who are the Prep's Fallen Heroes?

Iraq War

John Spahr, ’81



Aloysius P. McGonigal, ’40          

John J. Flood, ’51                             

Michael W. Doyle, ’60   

Thomas Dineen, ’61                       

Thomas Weiss, ’62                          



William Joseph Tierney, ’37  




Joseph J. Canning, ‘23

Joseph M. O’Malley, ‘23

John P. Hughes, ‘25

James Gallagher, ‘32

William Heenan, ‘32

William J. Devlin, ‘33

James Considine, ‘34

John P. Kelly, ‘34

Joseph E. Cann, ‘35

John E. Connor, ‘35

William J. Corr, ’35

John A. Burns, ‘36

John J. McMenamin, ’36

Paul Delaney, ‘38

Joseph E. Galbally ‘38

Raymond E. Adams, Jr., ’39

Edward J. Agnew, ‘39

Donald A. Bath, ‘39

Joseph Carbine, ‘39

Walter F. Higgins, ‘39

Francis J. MacMurtrie, ‘39

Bernard F. Staub, ‘39

Howard L. Bondy, ’40

John J. Gallgher, ’40  

Harry J. McDermott, ‘40

Francis Schrier, ‘40

John J. Schulke, ‘40

Karl J. Joerger, ‘41

Francis E. Stapleton, ‘41

John W. Hensler, ‘42

John T. McLoughlin, ‘42

Morris J. Herzstein, ’43    

Daniel W. Keough, ‘43

William F. McCauley, ‘43

Michael A. Cozzi, ’44                      

William J. McConnell, ‘45




William Francis Gallagher ‘16

Walter J. Wiegand (left school to enlist, was class of ’19)

Edward Francis Bennis, Jr. (left school to enlist, was class of ’19)

Walter Joseph Spearing (left school to enlist, was class of ’19)

Francis Charles Logue ‘17

George V. McIlhenny ‘14

Charles P. McMenamy ‘16

Thomas Joseph Fearn ‘16

Richard J. Currie ‘15

Earl John Grogan ‘16

Jesse F. Entwistle ‘06

Edward Maher (left school to enlist, was class of ’19)

Harold A. Ryan (left school to enlist, was class of ’20)

Frederick Cunningham ‘16

Clarence J. Devlin ‘09

Roger C. McNally ‘09


Civil War

Charles Brightly, 1852

What can TMF do for your team, club, company? How can you get involved?

If you are a Prep alum, parent, coach, teacher, or staff member who wants to put your group in touch with a TMF veteran and TMF resources, contact Ms. Cook at

TMF Veterans have worked with Prep Teams in myriad ways:

  • Coaches and veterans team up to talk to Prep teams about leadership
  • Veterans come out to practices and/or games to speak to scholar-athletes
  • The Spartan Cup between Prep/Don Bosco Lacrosse teams is dedicated to Brendan Looney and TMF
  • Prep Football hosts Veterans Appreciation Night and honors TMF Mentors in early November
  • Prep Hockey organized its 2017 Banquet around TMF speakers
  • Athletes from every Prep Team (Crew, Soccer, Football, Lax, Golf, Track, Cross-Country, Squash, Tennis) have participated in Operation Legacy/Leadership Academy.
  • Teams have organized their own service projects through TMF and have a veteran lead the project.


  • TMF Veterans speak to students during Community in November (Veterans Appreciation Week)
  • TMF Veterans also speak to students during Community in April (Leadership Awareness Week)
  • The Mother’s Club devoted their Mother-Son Communion Breakfast 2017 to raise awareness/funds for TMF
  • Click on our “News and Events” tab to see what other creative programming exists between the Prep and TMF.

What do Prep students say about their TMF participation?

"The Travis Manion program at St. Joe's Prep has impacted me in many ways. For example through the service trips in South Philadelphia, where we helped clean up the neighborhood and work in teams to plant a garden and even trees and make the neighborhood a better place. We also learned many leadership qualities such as integrity, caring for others, and willing to step up into a position even if you are not asked to. We applied these characteristics to many different activities such as working as team to solve a crisis, performing yoga, visiting a boxing gym, Crossfit, and when we visited an adventure course. We applied all the leadership roles in those activities and are now challenged to apply them in our daily lives. Overall, the whole program has impacted me to step up into the leadership position in many activities and work your best to benefit yourself and those around you."
-Mac Tambussi '19

"Through the Travis Manion Foundation, I have been taught how to lead through a variety of speakers, mentors and obstacles. All of these experiences have molded me into a better leader in the 3 years I have been involved with the Foundation. Not only have I been how to lead, I have been given valuable opportunities to put these new lessons into action. As the leaders of tomorrow, we are taught how to lead today."
-Rob Saldutti '18

“During my time at the Travis Manion Foundation Leadership Academy, I not only learned how to lead but I also learned what it means to be a leader. I discovered that leadership is not an inherent trait but something that is refined through experience. The service I participated with TMF in fortified this idea while also teaching me the value of hard work. TMF emphasizes the notion that hard work and persistence are interconnected and I fully agree with that idea. Most importantly, TMF provided me with the idea that anyone can be a leader, but only those who are willing to put their full effort forward will be the best leaders.”
-Stephen Tambussi '18

Who is the contact for this club? And how do I find out more about the Foundation?

Email Ms. Cook with questions and for more info at Go to the website to find out more.



Susie Cook
Prep TMF Moderator

St. Joseph's Preparatory School
1733 West Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
tel: 215.978.1950
fax: 215.765.1710
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