Welcome to the Kevin John McAleese Memorial Scholarship Foundation for the advancement and support of those seeking to use their lives to give back to their communities through service, leadership, humility, compassion, enthusiasm, and unrelenting faith.
Colonel Kevin J. McAleese (US Army, ret.), who
passed away on February 15, 2013 at the age of 55 after a two year battle with brain cancer, positively impacted the lives of thousands, not only in Philadelphia,
but around the world.
Born in New York and raised in Hicksville, Long Island, Kevin graduated from Sienna College, and moved to Philadelphia in 1980. As a civilian, he worked as an executive recruiter for a national search firm for many years before starting his own firm in 2005. In his last years, as he battled brain cancer, Kevin served the Navy’s Wounded Warrior Project, helping injured service men and women re-enter the workforce.
Kevin was a successful businessman with a storied thirty-year
career in the Army reserves. He retired
in 2009 at the rank of Colonel after serving meaningful tours of duty in Iraq and Bosnia working with local governments to improve
the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of displaced citizens. However, his greatest passion in
life was helping young people grow into accomplished, caring citizens. The longtime Executive Director of the Miss
Philadelphia Scholarship Organization, Kevin tirelessly championed support for the
college education of the Philadelphia area’s best and brightest.
Nothing would have pleased Kevin more than to know that,
even in death, he would still provide a better life for others. Please help to create a tangible legacy that
will continue to provide college scholarships, in Kevin’s name, to deserving
young women in the Philadelphia area.
Though many mistakenly think of the Miss America Pageant as
a “beauty pageant,” those who look deeper find that the Miss America
Organization and its state and local affiliates attract high achievers who
truly make a difference in the world.
Through higher education and a strong focus on community involvement,
The Miss America Organization not only helps these women to achieve and surpass
their own dreams, but gives them a step-up to help the greater community at
The Miss America
Organization is also the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for
The Miss Philadelphia Organization is one of its most celebrated local
When Kevin brought back the Miss Philadelphia Pageant in
1996 after seven years of dormancy, he created a local Pageant that has
consistently awarded more scholarship money than any in Pennsylvania and more
than most State pageants. Awarding over $180,000 since 1996, The Miss
Philadelphia Organization has provided college scholarships for not only
Pageant winners and top finishers but other contestants each year. Each of its participants have served the
Philadelphia community through countless hours of volunteer work for a variety
of worthy causes including: Welfare to Work, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, AIDS
Alive, The Greater Philadelphia Food Bank and The Susan G. Komen Foundation. All of its winners have gone on to notable personal and
Philadelphia’s – In Their Own Words
“I used to be determined to raise awareness of pediatric
brain injury and illness, until I met Kevin. He showed me how blind I was to an
incredible group of people who needed this passion fighting for them. He talked
to me about his personal battles with brain injury and illness and talked of
all the men and women he knew who sustained traumatic brain injury at war. My
platform evolved and I spent much of my year as Miss Philly visiting and
supporting veterans. Nowadays, I am in graduate school pursuing a Doctorate of
Physical Therapy so that I can work with this population of patients that I
didn't know existed before Kevin opened my eyes. Every day I think about how
much I learned from him. I know I wouldn't be who I am without Kevin inspiring
me to think bigger, give more, and love greater.”
Lauren Bilski, Miss
“Kevin was like having your own personal cheerleader right
by your side. Cheering you on through life to endless possibilities. Even
though he may not be here today, his spirit is still not just by my side
cheering me on but by all of his Miss Philadelphia's.”
Maria Sciorillo, Miss
“It’s a program that has created doctors, lawyers and
business women, not just in the winners, but in the contestants from over the
Ryann Richardson, Miss
"I was honored to serve as
Kevin's Miss Philadelphia in 2006. When
I became Miss Philadelphia, I was a 2nd year law student at Villanova
University School of Law. It was through
Kevin's guidance, encouragement and love that I found a mission in the larger
community serving children, particularly children with special educational
needs. When I graduated from law school,
my $10,000 Miss Philadelphia Scholarship financed my monthly student loan
payments as I took the bar exam and supported me early in my career when I
could not afford to pay them back on my own yet. Today, I'm an attorney and a performer in
Philadelphia and I am proud to serve as the Co-Executive Director of the Miss
Philadelphia Scholarship Organization.
Kevin taught me what it meant to be glorious without ever
seeking personal glory. He was a constant reminder that we are all humble
servants of one higher power and that our time on earth should be used to serve
and love other people. I miss him terribly
and pray for his guidance and help on a daily basis. I can't count how many
times even within the last week I have wished I could talk to him or ask his
advice. Kevin's legacy lives on through
humble service in our city and in small acts of kindness that help better the
life of another. He is always on my mind
and, in moments of struggle, I picture him standing over my shoulder telling me
it's going to be ok. I will always love
Kevin and I will never, ever forget him.
Mary Kaye Anthony, Miss
“Kevin McAleese changed my life. From the moment I walked
into the Miss Philadelphia program I was part of something greater than myself.
Through Kevin's tireless commitment, I earned the scholarship money I needed to
become the first in my family to not only graduate college but earn a master's
degree. What's more, I realized that service to others is what defines each
Miss Philadelphia and why this program is so much more than just a pageant. It
is an unparalleled platform for personal growth, community outreach and the
lifelong bonds of legacy dating back to the very first Miss America Pageant in
Alicia Roberts, Miss
“Kevin believed in education more than anyone I have ever
known, and had the most positive attitude and can-do spirit of anyone I have
ever known. To say he inspired me to be a better person would be an
understatement. His words stick with me to this day –‘always take the high
I am forever humbled
to have been a part of Kevin’s life, and forever grateful to have had the
opportunity to participate in the Miss Philadelphia program. This is an amazing
program, and he was an amazing person.
Kevin always pushed me to do more and to do better. He is
the reason I became the first in my family to graduate college. Truthfully, he
is the reason I even considered college.
He had a way of believing in you when you didn’t believe in
yourself. Through the toughest battle
of all, even in the end, Kevin always showed grace, courage, and certainly
always thought of others first.”
Bethany Watson, Miss
“Impossible to put into words the impact Kevin had on my
life, but just a couple of thoughts:
Kevin helped me to get my first job interview right out of
college. He told the interviewer that I
was Miss Philadelphia and they brought me in for an interview, they later told
me, just for a laugh. After speaking
with me for fifteen minutes, they offered me the job right on the spot and that
changed the course of my career. Kevin's
constant support, connections, and positivity made that possible for me.
When Kevin was deployed, Agnes White and I ran the Miss
Philadelphia Pageant. At 24 years old,
that opportunity was daunting, but following in Kevin's footsteps challenged me
to be bold, fearless and never, ever give up.
When compared with what he faced at war, planning the pageant was easy;
just hearing about his experiences gave me perspective. What is vital to the mission must be
preserved and promoted at all costs; always take the high road and never waste
time and energy on gossip and negativity.”
Kate Cohen, Miss
“What can I say that has not been said? When I think of
Kevin, I think of the song "if I can help somebody....”
If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer
somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody how they're traveling
wrong then my living shall not be in vain. If I can do my duty, as a good man
ought, if I can bring back beauty to a world up wrought, if I can spread love's
message, as the Master taught, then my living shall not be in vain."
Kiplee Bell, Miss
Please help us ensure that Kevin’s spirit of
generosity lives on for years to come by making a donation today. All funds
will go to the Kevin J. McAleese Scholarship Fund continuing this great and
kind man’s legacy of helping young women obtain their college degree and
achieve their dreams.
This fund will serve as part of his legacy going forward as a continual reminder to celebrate his life by blessing another.
"Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, Joy. O Divine Master; grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."