President Washut Welcomes Newest Members to Board of Directors and Advisory Council
As the Spring Semester gets underway in Lander, President Kyle Washut is pleased to announce additions both to the College’s Board of Directors and to his Presidential Advisor Council. “Sharing the story of Wyoming Catholic is a tremendous honor,” Washut says, “but I’m always searching for others who are eager to help me share that story. The generous folks we’re adding to our Board and Council today are joining me in our storytelling, and I’m thrilled to have them!”
Robert Ramaekers joined the College’s Board of Directors on January 1, 2024. As Vice President for Tenaska Development, Bob is responsible for carbon sequestration development efforts, including site development, permitting and land acquisition activities for Tenaska Development projects, and has worked for Tenaska since 1996. He and his wife, Michelle, have nine children, and their son, Jacob, graduated from Wyoming Catholic College in 2020 as the recipient of the Pier Giorgio Frassati Award. (Jacob is currently working as a course director for COR Expeditions, the College’s outreach program.)
“From the day our son Jacob began attending WCC, my wife Michelle and I realized what a unique and special place it is,” says Bob. “The focus on the Catholic Church, combined with the outdoor program, is an experience that cannot be found anywhere else. Each and every student we have encountered is strong in their Catholic faith, respectful, thoughtful and articulate. We believe in the school’s mission and want to support the school in any way possible.”
As Ramaekers joins the board, Bob Costello, who has served on the College’s Board of Directors for many years, is leaving it. But he’s not severing ties with Wyoming Catholic, by any means, simply transitioning to the Advisory Council, instead. “Bob’s time on our Board has been invaluable,” says President Washut. “Now that his term is up, I can certainly understand that he’s looking forward to a bit of a break. But when I asked him to consider the PAC, he accepted with the same spirit of service to the College and her community that has been a hallmark of his time on the Board. I’m grateful that I will not be losing his steady guidance and generous spirit.”
JD Flynn, editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Pillar (a journalism project covering the life of the Catholic Church), is also joining the Presidential Advisory Council. “Wyoming Catholic College gives me hope,” he says. “Its ethos, its philosophy, its faculty—but most especially its students—give me hope for the renewal of the church in the United States. And I’m proud to be affiliated with it!”
“We were glad to host JD here in Lander last year, for his lecture, ‘The State of the Modern Church,’” says President Washut. “I had the chance to chat with him then—and numerous times afterwards—and always come away encouraged by his optimism. I’m grateful to welcome him to my council, and look forward to leaning on his optimism going forward!” Before founding The Pillar, JD was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver and senior advisor to Bishop James Conley in the Diocese of Lincoln. He has an MA in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a JCL from the Catholic University of America. He is a member of the College of Fellows at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, has been a consultor to the USCCB, and is published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and in various Catholic publications.
Lastly, Deacon Joseph Bellissimo, one of the founders of Bellissimo & Peirce, Attorneys at Law (as well as the social media application and platform, Share A Prayer), has also agreed to join the Presidential Advisory Council. “I first became acquainted with Wyoming Catholic through a very dear and respected friend, Mark Lien (a member of the College’s Advancement Office),” says Deacon Joe. “Through our many conversations regarding the charism of the College and its mission, my interest moved to excitement, as it became quite apparent Wyoming’s mission was the very basis of my vocation. I, too, share the belief and desire to relentlessly pursue the truth and to do so through a life-long journey of contemplation, immersion, service, charity, encounter, and relationships.”
In addition to his many business activities, Deacon Joe was ordained a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Orlando by Bishop John Noonan, where he serves in multiple and various capacities throughout the diocese and central Florida. For almost ten years, he has spearheaded the Community Outreach Program created by the late Redemptorist priest, Father Tom Burke, which provides administrative, logistical, and spiritual counsel through a myriad of free services. Deacon Joe and his wife, Edythe, have been married over 29 years and are blessed with five children. They currently reside in New Smyrna Beach, Florida but originally hail from western Pennsylvania, where their faith, family, and cultural foundations were firmly established.
“Again, I want to express my gratitude to these good people,” says President Washut. “I’m very excited to be working with them as we all contribute to the growth and success of this wonderful college!”