Experience & service
The Global Institute of Church Management (GICM) is honored to work with experts in business, finance, Catholic social teaching, moral theology, and human development in our mission to equip Church leaders with best management practices. Contact us to learn more about how you can support GICM.
The son of a Hungarian immigrant and native Seattleite mother, Gellert Dornay was raised with 8 siblings and attended a Montessori preschool and grade school founded by his parents. Eager to maximize contribution, he was married, had attended three different universities, helped launch a boutique coffee roaster and welcomed their first child by the time he hit legal drinking age.
Dornay helped Java Trading Co. bring specialty coffee to the masses on three continents over his 15 year tenure, leaving shortly after a private equity sale in 2006.
As a practicing Catholic, Dornay developed a strong desire to promote human dignity through business, which led to co-founding Axia Home Loans in 2007. Homeownership contributes greatly to family and economic stability. Under Gellert’s leadership as CEO, Axia grew to fund over $1 billion annually, helping thousands of families become homeowners. Dornay is the only newcomer to successfully build a national mortgage bank during the Great Recession. And in 2016, Axia became the first 100% employee owned mortgage bank. Just as owners take better care of homes and communities, so do the 350 employee owners at Axia who now participate in company ownership and contribute to a stronger and more just and equitable economy.
Gellert and his wife Elizabeth homeschool their ten children on Mercer Island, Washington. He participates on several boards of profit and non-profit companies which are forces for good in our economy.
Ana Cecilia Fieler is a visiting assistant professor of economics at Yale University since 2018. She has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton University. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from New York University, an M.A. in economics from Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Fac. Engenharia Industrial, Brazil. Ana Cecilia lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband and their six children.
John Harpole is President and Founder of Mercator Energy, a natural gas brokerage and services company located in Denver, Colorado. John and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 27 years. They have 3 children. Emily Harpole (23 years old) is a missionary with The Culture Project. Mary Harpole is a junior at Benedictine College and Jack Harpole is a freshman at Benedictine College. John serves on the Board of Directors at Benedictine College, the Board at the Leadership Program of the Rockies, the Board at the University of Colorado’s Global Energy Management Program (GEM) and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) Advisory Board.
The Honorable John Hillen is the CEO of EverWatch Solutions, a 400-employee defense technology firm in Northern Virginia.
Dr. Hillen is a former assistant secretary of
State, public company CEO, award winning business school Professor, decorated combat veteran, public intellectual, and author of several books. He serves as The Wheat Professor of Leadership and Ethics at historic Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
A Catholic lay leader, he was the founding Chairman of the International Business Leaders Advisory Council for the Program on Church Management, serves on the Board of The Dominican Foundation, and is a longtime member of Legatus. John graduated from Duke University, holds a master’s degree from King’s College London, a doctorate from Oxford, and his MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell. Toggle Content
Flip Howard is the founder and CEO of WorkSuites – a coworking company based in Dallas, TX. Founded in 2001, WorkSuites operates over 20 coworking locations across Texas. Flip and his wife Celeste are both graduates of Franciscan University, and they have seven children ranging in age from 9 to 23 – with the oldest three currently also attending Franciscan.
An entrepreneur since childhood, Flip has owned companies in various industries including technology, medical, and collegiate laundry service. Flip has also served on various nonprofit boards, including Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees, Young Catholic Professional’s National Board, The Global Workspace Association, and The Pines Catholic Camp.
J. David Karam is the Chief Executive Officer of Sbarro, a leading Italian quick service restaurant company. Mr. Karam joined Sbarro when he was appointed Chairman of the Board in January of 2012 and assumed the additional duties of CEO in March of 2013.
Before joining Sbarro, Mr. Karam was the President of Wendy’s International from 2008 to 2011. During his tenure at Wendy’s, Karam led a successful turnaround, which included significant improvements in product quality, operational execution and brand profitability. Under his leadership, Wendy’s rose to become the second largest QSR Hamburger chain in the U.S., surpassing Burger King for the first time in the company’s 42-year history. In 2011, Karam was inducted into Wendy’s Hall of Fame.
Prior to joining Wendy’s in 2008, Mr. Karam was president of Cedar Enterprises, one of the largest franchisees in the Wendy’s system. While President of Cedar Enterprises, the company was awarded the R. David Thomas Founders Award, the Diamond Award for National Marketer of the Year and numerous other recognitions. He joined Cedar Enterprises in 1986 as Vice President of Finance before being promoted to President in 1989. Mr. Karam previously served as senior auditor for Touche & Ross from 1982 to 1986.
Karam is a CPA and holds a B.S. in Accounting from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Owner President Management program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration. He serves on the Board of Directors for Henny Penny Corporation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Pontifical College Josephinum.
Joseph V. Topper, Jr. has been the President of Dunne Manning Inc. since 2015. Mr. Topper is Chairman of the Board of Cross America Partners LP since acquiring the General Partner in November 2019. Mr. Topper has over 25 years of management experience in the wholesale and retail fuel distribution business. In 1987, Mr. Topper purchased his family’s retail fuel business and five years later founded DMI (formerly known as Lehigh Gas Corporation), where he was the Chief Executive Officer since 1992. Mr. Topper currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Villanova University and is member of the Board of Limited Jurisdiction at St. Michael the Archangel School. He is the past President of the board of directors for Lehigh Valley PBS and the Lehigh Valley PBS Foundation. He also served as a board member for the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown. Mr. Topper holds a Master’s degree of Business Administration from Lehigh University and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Villanova University. Mr. Topper is also a Certified Public Accountant.