Alumni Association announces 2021 Corby and Cavanaugh award recipients

Author: Notre Dame Alumni Association


The University of Notre Dame Alumni Association awarded two of its most prestigious honors during the fall 2021 meeting of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. 

2021 Corby Award recipient: Col. DJ Reyes '79

In recognition of his exemplary U.S. Army service spanning over 30 years, retired Col. D.J. Reyes, class of 1979, was presented with the Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., Award, which is bestowed upon Notre Dame graduates who have distinguished themselves in military service. The award is named for the University’s third president, who served as chaplain of the Irish Brigade during the U.S. Civil War.

A proud Asian/Pacific Islander and son of a Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, Reyes served in both military intelligence and special operations assignments worldwide, commanded at the detachment through brigade and joint site levels, and led troops in support of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti and Korea. 

“‘God, Country, Notre Dame’ served as the foundation, and later a moral compass, that helped me navigate through times of uncertainty and deal with human conflict and suffering while deployed in other parts of the world,” Reyes said. “This is what the Corby Award means to me, and for this reason I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award.”

Reyes also earned a law degree from Temple University and a Master of Arts from the U.S. Naval War College. Upon retirement in 2013, he helped establish the Veterans Treatment Court in Tampa, Florida, a nationally renowned program focused on rehabilitation of veterans suffering from mental health and substance use disorders acquired as a result of their military service and who find themselves in the criminal justice system. He is a national veterans’ rights spokesman who continues to successfully advocate at the state and national levels for veteran legislation and funding. 

Reyes’ social advocacy also extends to assisting those most in need. He is a Tampa mayoral-appointed member on the Citizens Review Board (overseeing local police actions and procedures within the community), actively supports Heartdance Foundation (anti-human trafficking operations in Tampa), and with his wife, Julie, supports programs for the disabled and military special needs population.

While an undergraduate student, Reyes fought in Bengal Bouts, Notre Dame’s annual charity boxing tournament to support the Congregation of Holy Cross missions in Bangladesh. Upon commissioning in 1979, he received the Patrick Dixon Award, presented annually to a distinguished Notre Dame senior Army ROTC Cadet. 

The Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Award, named in honor of Notre Dame’s 14th president, celebrates an alumnus or alumna who has performed outstanding service in the field of government or public service. The 2021 recipient of the Cavanaugh Award is John N. Gallo, class of 1983.

2021 Cavanaugh Award recipient: John N. Gallo '83

Gallo serves as CEO and executive director of Legal Aid Chicago, the largest civil legal aid organization in the Midwest. Legal Aid Chicago seeks to ensure that poverty is not an impediment to justice, making the legal system accessible to clients. Its advocacy results in victims of domestic violence or trafficking breaking free and beginning new lives; children receiving the education services they deserve; families avoiding homelessness by preventing unfair evictions or foreclosures; and seniors keeping their life savings by ensuring they are not victims of fraud. 

Prior to joining Legal Aid Chicago, Gallo was a partner at Sidley Austin LLP for 21 years. He was co-chair of Sidley’s White Collar Practice from 2010 to 2017, and head of litigation in Sidley’s Chicago office from 2014 to 2017. In 2005, in partnership with Bryan Stevenson at the Equal Justice Initiative, he created Sidley’s Capital Litigation Project, designed to ensure that inmates incarcerated on Alabama’s death row had effective legal representation. 

From 2000 to 2017, Gallo served as trial counsel to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, the body responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by Illinois judges. From 1989 to 1996, he served as a criminal assistant United States attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, and from 1994 to 1996 as a deputy chief. 

Gallo is a 1986 graduate of Harvard Law School. Following law school, he clerked for the Hon. Ann C. Williams, a 1976 Notre Dame Law School graduate, in federal district court in Chicago. He also served as an adjunct professor at Notre Dame Law School from 2002 through 2017. He and his wife, Jeanne, have been married for 36 years and have four adult children and three grandchildren.

“It was as a student at Notre Dame that I first learned the inextricable connection between my faith and social justice,” Gallo said. “I am both humbled and grateful to receive this award from an institution so close to my heart.”