2015 Alumnus of the Year: John E. O’Shea, Jr. of the Class of 1980
O’Shea Will Be Honored at Homecoming Mass on Saturday, September 26 at 5 PM
John E. O’Shea, Jr., a 1980 graduate of Jesuit High School of New Orleans and the CEO of Navigator Energy Services, a Texas-based energy company, has been named the school’s 2015 Alumnus of the Year. O’Shea is a petroleum engineer who has channeled the results of his successful entrepreneurial ventures in the oil and natural gas industry into numerous philanthropic endeavors that have made a difference for the better, especially in education, and particularly for students and graduates of Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston.
He will be the 58th alumnus to receive the F. Edward Hebert Award at the Homecoming Mass on Saturday, September 26 at 5 p.m. in the Chapel of the North American Martyrs on the campus of Jesuit High School. Since 1958, the award has been given annually to an outstanding alumnus who is recognized for his notable achievements and distinguished service, either to Jesuit or the community-at-large, and in many instances, both. A resident of Houston for the past 32 years, O’Shea is the youngest alumnus and the first from the 1980s decade to be honored.
O’Shea has invested much of his volunteer time and philanthropic energies in Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston, a Catholic high school sponsored by the Jesuits of the Central and Southern Province that offers a rigorous college prep education to students from low-income families. Students attend extended classes three or four days a week. On the other days, students go to work, literally, in various capacities in the offices of corporate sponsors. The money the students earn is sent by the companies directly to Cristo Rey and applied to their tuitions.
O’Shea and his wife, Charlene, quietly played a major role in getting the school up and running in time for the 2009-10 school year. O’Shea is a founding member of the school’s board of trustees and also serves on the board of directors of the Cristo Rey Network, which is headquartered in Chicago and consists of 30 schools strategically located throughout the United States. The Cristo Rey schools combine personal responsibility, academic rigor, and a corporate work-study program to empower students of all faiths from economically challenged families to reach their full potential.
“John has exercised key leadership roles in the founding and operating of a high school dedicated to providing opportunity for Houston’s disadvantaged youth,” said Fr. Anthony McGinn, S.J. ’66, president of Jesuit High School. “Because of John’s commitment and exemplary guidance, the school in Houston is one of the most successful in the national network of Cristo Rey schools.”
O’Shea said he was stunned when he heard Fr. McGinn’s voice on the other end of the phone. “At first I was certain that he had the wrong John O’Shea as there are two John O’Shea’s in the Class of 1980,” he recalled of Fr. McGinn’s phone call informing him of the news. “I was in shock that someone who has spent their entire adult life in Texas could be recognized as AOY at our great New Orleans institution.”
When Fr. McGinn assured him that, indeed, John E. O’Shea, Jr. was the Alumnus of the Year, O’Shea admitted that he felt a little panicked. “How could I possibly ever be in the company of such great alumni who have received this award?” he wondered to himself, adding, “I don’t want to be remembered as Fr. McGinn’s greatest mistake!”
His panic quickly evaporated, however, giving way to humbleness and gratefulness, traits that have been inherent in O’Shea’s personal, family, and professional life since his days as a Blue Jay. As a freshman, he played football and was on the wrestling team. O’Shea continued to wrestle as a sophomore, the year he and classmates Peter Tumminello and Johnnie Hotard earned their Eagle Scout Award at the same Eagle Court of Honor.
After graduation, O’Shea received his Bachelor of Science in petroleum engineering from Louisiana Tech University. He earned an M.B.A. from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
O’Shea worked briefly as a production engineer for a large oil company before joining Dynegy in 1990. He served in several management capacities, notably as vice president of corporate development, and remained with the energy company for almost 13 years. In 2002, O’Shea was a co-founder and president of Millenium Midstream Partners, which by 2007 he had turned into one of the fastest growing energy companies in the U.S. O’Shea sold Millenium in 2008 to Eagle Rock Energy Partners, LP.
O’Shea was a managing director of Tenaska Capital Management (TCM), a private equity fund specializing in the energy sector with more than $3 billion in committed capital. He was also an operating partner and advisor at Denham Capital, a $7 billion private equity fund that invests in upstream, midstream, and downstream energy projects.
O’Shea is currently CEO of Navigator Energy Services, a midstream energy company that gathers and transports crude oil. O’Shea is leading Navigator’s initial project, a 400-mile long pipeline system that moves crude oil production in the Permian Basin to Colorado City, TX.
The sale of his Millennium Midstream company created opportunities to become more intimately involved in philanthropic projects. In 2006 he and his wife established the John and Charlene O’Shea Family Foundation.
“At the time we set it up, we had no real objectives,” said O’Shea, adding that he relied on his “Jesuit training” and spent six months discerning how best to use the family’s foundation. “Eventually, we decided to support inner city education and women’s issues.”
With a nudge from Strake Jesuit president Fr. Dan Lahart, S.J. — and encouragement from Fr. Michael Dooley, S.J. ’73, who served as assistant to the provincial — the O’Sheas jumped on board the Cristo Rey Jesuit Houston bandwagon with their foundation assisting with, among other things, a feasibility study.
When Fr. T.J. Martinez, S.J. (who died of stomach cancer on November 28, 2014) was named the founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit Houston in April 2008, the O’Sheas were all in, working diligently with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to acquire a shuttered building for the school. They also pitched in to refurbish the building, hire faculty and staff, recruit students, and secure the first 25 corporate sponsors.
Sixteen months later, the new school opened. Three Cristo Rey classes have graduated and 100% of the grads have been accepted to college.
For a five-month period beginning in June 2014, O’Shea enthusiastically served as the interim president and CEO of the Cristo Rey Network until the national organization found a permanent leader.
In addition to his volunteer work with Cristo Rey, O’Shea is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He currently serves on the advisory board of Casa de Esparanza and has served on the boards of Strake Jesuit, St. Thomas More Parish School, and the Texas Pipeline Association. The board of trustees of Houston’s Cristo Rey Jesuit is fortunate to have not only O’Shea as a member and advisor, but also his classmate, Peter Tumminello, as well as Robert Murphy ’69.
When not volunteering or working out mentoring students in math, O’Shea enjoys playing golf, particularly with Tumminello and two other Blue Jay classmates who live and work in Texas, Jerry Eumont and Jim Montgomery. O’Shea has travelled to five continents and attended Mass in 23 states and 16 countries.
While still in college, he married Charlene Brandau, the daughter of Kay and James Brandau, a 1951 Blue Jay alumnus. The O’Sheas recently celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary. They have three grown children: a daughter, Julie O’Shea Weber, who is married to a 2005 Strake Jesuit alumnus; and two sons, Chris and Jim, Strake Jesuit graduates of the classes of 2008 and 2012, respectively.
“Being gone from New Orleans for the past 32 years, I never thought that I would be considered for this wonderful award,” said O’Shea, adding that he has great respect for the Jesuits. “I think this award is more about my outreach to the entire Jesuit community than just what little I have done for Jesuit High School. This is truly God’s work, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.”