Alumni to be honored by Concordia Lutheran High School

Jan. 26, 2015

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Three alumni are being recognized for dedication to their communities as well as to their alma mater by Concordia Lutheran High School.

Dr. Christopher McDougle, the director of the Lurie Center for Autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is being recognized by Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., for his achievements since graduation.

McDougle, a 1977 graduate of Concordia, has been honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor given to a Concordia graduate. It recognizes graduates who have demonstrated an ongoing dedication to Christian principles and the church, with both lifetime and personal achievements.

McDougle is an internationally-recognized expert in research and the treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders that extend into adulthood. He is building and teaching a physician mentoring program in the field of autism that will seed programs world-wide with the lessons learned at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He has been honored with multiple awards for excellence in teaching as well as for research on schizophrenia and depression. After graduation from Concordia, he went onto Valparaiso University and then earned his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1986. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center.

McDougle established the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment and Research Center at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, which has grown to be the largest academic center for the care of children, adolescents and adults with autism in the State of Indiana.

In his current role as the Director of the Lurie Center for Autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he oversees the clinical care of children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. There they currently treat approximately 3,000 individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their family members.

As the Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, McDougle will be speaking at Concordia’s commencement on May 31.

Steve Messerschmidt, a 1979 graduate and a firefighter with the City of Fort Wayne, is being honored with the Distinguished Service Award because of his dedicated support, activity and service to the ministry of CLHS.

He is highly involved at his church, Concordia Lutheran, where he helps run the annual Easter breakfast, cleans the hood system in their school’s kitchen and volunteers with their youth group. Over the past 21 years, he also has been committed to putting on a fire prevention program at several Fort Wayne preschools when he is off-duty.

Even with helping out in so many ways within the community, Messerschmidt still finds time to play a significant role at CLHS, volunteering to help with the band, JROTC and the choir programs along with being an active alumnus in various events.

“Concordia has been of value to me and my wife, as well as our children,” he said. “I consider it my responsibility to respond in kind and be of service back to Concordia. I hope that the time I have spent with the students has set a similar example to the one that was set for me.”

Russell Jehl, a 1998 graduate and a Fort Wayne city councilman, is being awarded the Neale M. Shank Award. The Neale M. Shank Award, named in honor of an alum who died while serving in Iraq, honors those younger than 40 who have made significant contributions to their given career, community, church or the high school.

After graduation, Jehl earned his B.A. in financial management from Hillsdale College in Michigan. He is a commercial broker specializing in retail leasing with NAI Harding Dahm where he has completed more than 300 real estate transactions and represents 14 shopping centers. He is a managing member of Jehl Real Estate, continuing in the tradition of his family which developed Georgetown Square. His most recent career achievement was being nominated onto Fort Wayne’s City Council in 2012.

In his position as an elected official, Jehl currently serves as co-chair of the City Council's Regulations Committee and is the Council's appointee to the Allen County Solid Waste District Commission, Joint Permitting Oversight Committee and Joint Tax Abatement Committee.

Other volunteer memberships and services include Fort Wayne Sports Corporation Board, Parkview Health Network Select Committee, Junior Achievement-High School Economics, CLHS’ volunteer varsity assistant soccer coach and a member of CLHS’ executive directors cabinet.

Concordia Lutheran High School, located at 1601 St. Joe River Drive in Fort Wayne, Ind., was founded in 1935 as a private, co-educational Lutheran high school open to students of all faiths and backgrounds. With Christ at the center, Concordia continues to pursue educational excellence that equips individuals for lifelong learning and service as disciples of Jesus Christ. Learn more at