The College of St. Catherine became St. Catherine University on June 1, 2009.
Going Global: Kate Brantingham '01
BY TRACY BAUMANN
SHORTLY AFTER Kate Brantingham '01 moved to Washington, D.C., in 2003 she went to the Congressional Placement Office for an interview. "I walked in, put my résumé down and the man at the desk said, 'Oh, you went to St. Kate's. That's very impressive,'" she recalls.
Brantingham was surprised. She knew how much she valued her St. Catherine's education, but she hadn't expected someone on the East Coast to know the College. Since then, while working with people from around the world, Brantingham has found many occasions to use the collaborative leadership style she developed at St. Catherine's. "One thing I definitely learned was to value women's ways of leading," says Brantingham.
She recently started working as a specialist for Target's community relations office in the international giving program. The skills she developed in her role as president of College Association Governing Board (now the student Senate) have helped her work with colleagues from Europe, Kenya, the Sudan, Uganda, India, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Fiji, Australia and more.
For example, Brantingham spent a year working as part of a team implementing a USAID grant in southern Sudan on a project to help women collect and market honey. Decision making in the Sudan often happens in groups rather than by a single leader. For some people, she notes, "that can be frustrating because it feels very slow."
She collaborated with a colleague in the Sudan and another in Kenya. "Together, we managed the project, each with a separate role but also working together," she says. "My experience at St. Kate's really prepared me for that kind of collaborative approach that values multiple points of view."
After St. Kate's, Brantingham earned a master's degree in international relations at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. The ideas and intellectual challenges she encountered at St. Kate's made a difference in her graduate studies. Her first-year ethics course and her double major in philosophy and theology helped shape her master's thesis on immigration policy in the United Kingdom.
Brantingham still remembers a "World Religions" course at St. Kate's in which she learned about how value systems and religions shape different cultures. She draws on that knowledge today in her work with people in India, a religiously diverse country made up predominantly of Hindus but also with Muslims and Christians. "Target has such a strong value of giving, and I've been thinking a lot about what that means," she says. "We all give for different reasons as people, and I'm glad that I have a sense of where that comes from."
Feeling good about her work, knowing that she's contributing to the world, is important to Brantingham. "We were all encouraged, from courses such as 'The Reflective Woman,' to know who we were as individuals and to figure out how we were going to fit into the world," she says.
Much of her work in development has focused on gender-based violence, the importance of education for girls and the distinct challenges that women face because of their lesser place in most societies. Thanks to her St. Kate's education, she also sees the possibilities for change.
"It never really occurred to me that women can't or shouldn't do something," Brantingham says. "It's amazing to see the power that they have. A lot of women have an incredible power to change their society."