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Meet our Staff

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Jennifer Engle

Jennifer Engle, MS, MPPM

Executive Director
Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning

Many of you know me (or at least my emails), but I have been with La Roche University since June 2021. I have had a few different roles in my career and worked with people between six weeks old and 102 years old, but ultimately, my vocation is to serve others and bring to life the vision they see.

I grew up in Pittsburgh in Troy Hill, and I have lived on the North Side or the northern suburbs my entire life, except for the four years for college, where I majored in chemistry. I planned on being a doctor, but in between my junior and senior years in college, a young girl who went to the camp where I was a counselor told me she saved her little sister from drowning because I taught her how to swim. After that I decided I wanted to work with kids and people in a nonprofit setting rather than the health field (and since I pass out when giving blood, I think it was a good decision).

I spend my free time with my family. My husband, Jon, and I have been married for 20 years and have two wonderful kids, JD (age 17) and Grace (15). We are in the fun, high school stage of activities, learning to drive and exploring college, but we are just trying to take it all in because we know this stage will end soon too. I also spend a lot of time with the rest of my family, including my two sisters, brother, two brothers-in-law, sister-in-law, two nieces, two nephews, and my dad and stepmother (who are both members).

I would take most of the classes we offer, but I think the religious studies courses with Dr. Bobinchock and many of the history courses would be the ones I would sign up for first.

I am so fortunate to be a part of this program, and I count myself blessed to get to work with these wonderful women and all of you!

Sister Elena Almendarez

Sister Elena Almendarez, CDP, MA

Executive Director of Mission Advancement
Supports Kearns Spirituality Center and Spiritual/Wellness Programs 

Hello! I am Sister Elena Almendarez, the executive director of Mission at La Roche University. Previously I was the Director of Kearns Spirituality Center. As part of these roles, I supported the efforts of the Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning. Before that I completed 14 years in La Roche’s Office of Mission and Ministry, including seven years as the director, and as an instructor for the La Roche Experience program. 

 Now I am really excited to work with our lifelong learners while planning programs and spiritual experiences for folks at Kearns. I love working for La Roche and have really enjoyed my new role at the University.

I have been a sister for almost 40 years and recently moved to the Sisters' new residence, the Commons at Providence Heights. Since 1995 I have been a foster parent, along with my friend and fellow sister, Sister Michele Bisbey. We are currently raising Amanda, who is a teenager now, but whom we've been loving since she was eight days old. 

In my free time, I love to read, loom knit, spend time with family and friends, and practice meditation. am looking forward to meeting our members and building community together!


Rita Ciccariello

Rita Ciccariello

Membership and Program Coordinator
Introcaso Center for Lifelong Learning

Hi! I’m Rita Ciccariello, the part-time membership and program coordinator for the Center for Lifelong Learning. I am really excited to meet everyone and assist you in your lifelong learning journey!

I attended La Roche as an adult to launch my second career, which led me to a job in the Division of Student Affairs at Carnegie Mellon University. Before I started at La Roche, I retired from CMU and am happy to now be associated with La Roche’s Center for Lifelong Learning.

I have been a resident of Richland Township for 10 years and previously lived in Hampton Township, where my husband, Ed Reidy, and I raised two sons, Patrick and Jack.

My favorite things to do when not working involve the outdoors: running, golfing and going to baseball games. When inside, a good book is a requirement! If I were a Lifelong Learning member, I definitely would want to take the course on Everyday Etymologies and take part in the Book Club.

My favorite thing to do now is be Grandma to my new granddaughter, Clare.


Sister Diane Dunn, CDP

Sister Diane Dunn, CDP

Assistant Hospitality and Operations Manager
Kearns Spirituality Center

Hello! I am Sr. Diane and the Assistant Hospitality and Operations Manager and also, the Finance person at Kearns Spirituality Center since January 2023. I entered the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1976 almost 50 years ago. I am a LaRoche 1975 graduate in Religious Studies and Mathematics and received a Master’s Degree from Duquesne University in Elementary Education in 1983. I taught mainly kindergarten and first grade for 39 years with twenty-two years in the Archdiocese of Detroit. My last four and half years, before coming to Kearns, have been ministering to infants from 7-12 months at the Mt. Nazareth Learning Center as Group Supervisor/Lead Teacher where I resigned December 29, 2022. I continue to look forward to ministering here and learning more of all the opportunities offered at the Center for Lifelong Learning.

On my “down time”, some of what I enjoy is listening to music, reading, doing jig-saw puzzles, walking as I connect with friends via cell, and swimming.

In November 2022, I made my annual retreat at Kearns Spirituality Center. The retreat gave me the time to just be with my Provident God in the quietness of the Center. The time also helped me to reminisce of the years that I lived at Kearns as a student as well as my Novitiate years as a Sister.

In my 44 years of teaching, I continued to take in person and on-line classes to keep abreast on the latest in early education. At my farewell celebration, when I left Metro Detroit, the principal commented that she has never had one of her teachers taken so many on-going classes. I look forward to continue on the path of being a Life Long Learner through this center that I am a member.