The Holy Cross Academy has announced a new president and, in doing so, has solidified its all-female leadership team.

The Holy Cross Academy has announced a new president and, in doing so, has solidified its all-female leadership team.

Jackie Zufall became the Academy's second president since its founding last year. She replaces Monsignor Lewis Gaetano. Zufall has been the principal at St. Paul's Catholic School in North Canton for 20 years.

Zufall joins a Holy Cross Academy team that includes Kristie Cramer, director of enrollment, and Suzanne Herldicka, director of advancement. Together, they work to support the efforts of diocese superintendent Mary Fiala, a Stark County resident who recently served as principal at St. Joan of Arc school.

Zufall is excited to be part of the leadership team and is looking forward to working to promote all of the 10 schools in the Academy.

It was hard for her to leave her school after two decades.

“I'm thrilled to be a part of the Holy Cross Academy and look forward to the future and to working with a great team,” Zufall said. “It was difficult to leave the parents, the staff and the kids at St. Paul's School. This is a major change for me, it's a good thing to refresh and start a new journey.”

Zuffall's job will be to enhance the Catholic identity while working with the Board of Directors to implement programs and good educational practices. She will also be overseeing the budget.

“My three areas of focus will be to advance our schools through funding, enrollment and educationally,” Zufall said.


Herldicka has been with the Academy since last August. As director of advancement, she is charged with helping the school financially through fundraising and appeals. She helps each of the schools with the fundraisers they currently hold and provides ideas for new ways to raise much-needed funding.

“One of the big projects we've completed is called ‘Be a Student's Friend’ where individuals or companies can donate to a scholarship fund to assist with tuition costs for those parents who need some help,” Herldicka said. “Future plans include holding an annual benefit concert and establishing alumni groups at each of the schools along with an umbrella alumni association called the Stark County Catholic Elementary Schools Alumni Association.”

Zufall and Herdlicka said that students who have attended Catholic elementary schools have a special bond that is unique to Catholic schools. Most alumni feel a deep, long-lasting connection. Zufall said she believes that connection comes from the family atmosphere, having the family's parish connected to the school and the fact that the students pray together.

Herdlicka said the academy is planning to start an annual appeal through the churches and the community.

“My main goal is to support our 10 schools and help them be financially sound,” Herdlicka said.


Cramer is the director of enrollment. She supports the elementary schools through marketing events and community outreach. Cramer is excited to be a part of the leadership team at the Academy.

“The three of us are a good fit and we have a certain energy where we share ideas, we laugh a lot and we all three enjoy what we are doing,” Cramer said.

Cramer is tasked with marketing the Catholic school system as a whole while promoting the unique characteristics and benefits of each of the schools individually.

“The elementary schools in the Holy Cross system are all unique in size, demographics, geographically and other areas,” Zufall said. “Plus, our superintendent is over an hour away at the Diocese. The Academy's purpose is to enhance the job of the superintendent, through our marketing and community outreach.”


Zufall, Herdlicka and Cramer all grew up in the system. They believe that is an advantage because they are invested in the vision for the academy and want to see all of the schools to succeed.

“These three leaders all come to their positions with caring hearts and know they are here for the kids,” said Rev. James Clarke of St. Paul's Catholic Church in North Canton. “The board is confident that their caring and working for the kids will show up in every aspect of their ministry. Caring for the kids, parents and their Christian community is important to all of them. This team can keep showing us the vision and they will be able to motivate the principals to think big and think positive.”

Zufall said the tasks of caring about each of the schools and the kids are what energizes all three leaders. The team is working on forming a plan for each of the schools based on its size and characteristics.

One example she gave was that St. Peter's School in downtown Canton is in the middle of Canton's art district. Their individual plan for advancement and programming will be built around the arts.

All of the schools in the system, however, will make a push for innovation. Zufall said they want offer big school advantages while maintaining a small school feel.   

“Our job at the Academy is to let the pastors at each school take the lead in the ministries and to let the principals at each school be the educational leaders,” Zufall said. “We'll take on the roles of marketing and promoting our schools, working on enrollment and innovative programming and taking on some of the fundraising planning.”

Cramer said all schools have expanded their athlete programming and are planning to expand arts programming. The schools soon will be  announcing speech and debate programming where St. Thomas and Central Catholic High Schools will participate.

Additionally, the schools will collaborate on a drama program this fall with all of the schools coming together to present one major theatrical production.

“Strengthening our elementary schools will also strengthen our high schools,” Clarke said. “It also strengthens and energizes the parishes and families. The board's goals are to encourage all the schools to think bigger than our own needs. We want to do the best we can to serve the Catholic and non-Catholic communities.”