Distinguished Alumni

April 5, 2018


BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius College Alumni Association hosted the annual Distinguished Alumni awards dinner on November 18, 2017.  Six graduates of the college received the prestigious award, which recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions in their chosen professions and who, through their leadership, add distinction to their respective fields. 

The Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are:

Ashli S. Dreher ’95

Special Education Teacher, Lewiston-Porter High School

Ashli Dreher is a special education teacher at Lewiston-Porter High School, where she works with students with developmental disabilities.  Her unique programming engages family members and achieves incredible results for her students.  Dreher’s invaluable guidance continues outside the classroom as she places her special needs students in internships with local businesses to better prepare them for the workplace.

A role model to all educators, Dreher speaks at statewide conferences on the topics of transition, parental involvement and educational reform.  Earlier this year, she became the first educator from the Buffalo Niagara region to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.


Michael J. Edbauer ’84, MBA ’12, DO

President and CEO, Catholic Medical Partners

An innovator in the field of medical management and health care consulting, Dr. Michael Edbauer helps to reshape the model of medical care in Western New York.  He is president and CEO of Catholic Medical Partners (CMP) and the first physician to run the organization since it was formed in 1996.  In this role, Edbauer oversees a network of more than 1,000 physicians and five institutional member hospitals. 

Under his direction, CMP received accreditation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance in disease management of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and diabetes. 


Francis J. Felser ‘81

President and CEO, Bryant & Stratton College

As president of Bryant & Stratton College, Francis Felser executes a strategic plan that provides students of the private career college with a customized educational approach  that couples academic theory with real-world, career-related applications.  It’s a holistic blueprint available to all Bryant & Stratton’s 14,000 students at 19 campuses nationwide. 

Felser’s accomplishments are many during his 25-year tenure with Bryant & Stratton.  He greatly expanded the institution’s digital learning approach and led the transition from a nationally accredited college focused on skills-based training to a regionally accredited college that develops career-ready students. 


Rhonda Frederick MPA ‘03

President and CEO, People Inc.

Rhonda Frederick is president and chief executive officer of People Inc. where she advocates for more than 12,000 clients with special needs and their families.

She joined Western New York’s leading not-for-profit health and human services agency in 1980, starting in a group home when the agency employed a total of 200 people, and steadily worked her way up through the ranks. Today, she is the CEO of agency that employs nearly 4,000.  

Under her watchful eye, the agency saw improved outcomes and expanded into independent senior housing. Frederick was also at the forefront of the agency’s commitment to person-centered solutions to improve the quality of life for individuals receiving services. 


Mary F. Roberts ’77

Executive director, The Martin House

Mary F. Roberts studied accounting at Canisius College so it’s fitting that she now oversees one of Buffalo’s greatest assets.   

As executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin Martin House in North Buffalo, Roberts manages the comprehensive restoration of the architectural masterpiece. 

Under her leadership, the Martin House raised approximately $50 million for more than six major phases of renovation. Roberts’ efforts ensure that Frank Lloyd Wright’s internationally acclaimed architectural treasure will endure. 


Walter D. Webdale ’57

President and CEO, AHC Inc.

Walter Webdale is considered a pioneer of urban renewal. A 50-year veteran of the affordable housing industry, he is now president and chief executive officer of AHC Inc., a non-profit developer of affordable housing based in Arlington, VA. 

The agency takes a holistic approach to providing housing for low- and moderate-income families.  Under Webdale’s leadership, AHC more than tripled its multifamily housing portfolio and the award-winning resident-services program expanded to reach 3,000 children, adults and seniors annually through onsite education programs.