One Year and Growing
Dear Alumnae and Freinds, A year ago I attended the Alumnae Annual Meeting — on the brink of what has proven to be a grand adventure. Two months before I was hired as director, Vice President for External Relations Marjorie Mathison Hance SP'70 described the vision St. Catherine University had for its Alumnae Relations organization.
We were not a new program, to be sure, but only recently had we become integrated into the University. Our theme, which has driven my past 10 months of work as the department's director, is alumnae engagement.
Karen Jothen MAOL'06 Director of Alumnae Relations
Today I stand before you with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment. Together, we have created meaningful opportunities to connect — whether through corporate chapters, events throughout the country or in this magazine, to name a few. Together, we have set new attendance records for beloved events such as Conversation with Books. Together, we have established and nurtured a hands-on, hard-working Alumnae Council whose efforts will benefit St. Catherine for years to come.
Those of you who attended this year's Annual Meeting, on May 14, heard about the remarkable — and remarkably busy — year we've just enjoyed. Still, some of the details are worth repeating:
More than 50 alumnae are planning our upcoming reunion in June, the largest planning committee ever.
Our inaugural Shout Out St. Kate's Day drew participation literally throughout the world and was especially successful on our increasingly vital social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Attendance at Conversation with Books was up a full 25 percent on the St. Paul campus in January.
Two of the University's top academic leaders — Senior Vice President Colleen Hegranes and Associate Vice President and Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences and the College for Women Alan Silva — met with alumnae in Chicago to gather information for the upcoming Higher Learning Commission accreditation report.
Community is a watchword at St. Catherine. It defines how we celebrate together,and support and challenge one another. Alumnae are a key part of that dynamic. Whether you're mentoring a student, connecting with a sister Katie for job opportunities, speaking to a class or simply telling someone at work about your transformative education — your engagement with us is vital to St. Kate's future.
As I look ahead to my second year of leadership, I ask for your input and ideas, your energy and enthusiasm, your creativity and commitment. Please be in touch. Together, we keep St. Catherine strong. Sincerely, Karen Jothen MAOL'06
Katie Appointed Advisor To President of Ireland
Mary Van Lieshout SP'82
Early this year, Mary Van Lieshout SP'82 received an unexpected phone call. Michael D. Higgins, the newly inaugurated president of Ireland, invited her to be his advisor.
"While utterly thrilled, I was also profoundly honored and humbled," she says. A longtime admirer of his work, Van Lieshout first met Higgins through her social justice work in Cambodia during the 1980s. He was an elected representative in the Irish Parliament at the time and a committed human rights activist.
Her journey to Ireland started in Zimbabwe following graduation fromSt. Catherine University with a major in foods and nutrition. For two years, she worked as a public health professional managing emergency relief programs for the Catholic Church. She spent a third year conducting research on the effectiveness of an area nutritional rehabilitation center.
"I met my future husband in Zimbabwe, and since he is from Dublin, we moved here," she says.
In Dublin, she pursued a master's in community health at Trinity College, investigating nutrition and health behaviors among low-income women. She spent the next decade working as a campaign and policy manager with Oxfam Ireland where she traveled the globe reviewing development programs and informing government policy makers at the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.
"My goal has always been to ensure that public policy is informed by and responds to the lived experience of poor and marginalized communities," she says.
Van Lieshout left Oxfam in 1998 to focus her social justice efforts closer to home. She was the first health promotion officer appointed in the Dublin region; more recently she headed research and standards development with the National Disability Authority (NDA).
"The thread through my work has been a commitment to poverty eradication, social justice and the development of public policy to combat inequality and social exclusion," she says. "I've been grateful to have the opportunity to work at a national level, within the statutory sector to affect change."
Van Lieshout credits the rigorous education she received at St. Kate's for shaping much of her career.
"I am struck by how focused, well prepared and challenging the lectures and learning was at St Kate's," she says. "Dr. Julie Miller Jones encouraged us always to challenge, question and critically analyze food myths and legends. I have taken that with me on a practical level throughout my various roles. I try to get behind the facts and dig, dig, dig even when the answer may seem obvious."
Van Lieshout advises new graduates to plan goals and follow them, but don't become a slave to them.
"While I always wanted to influence and inform public policy, I had never planned that it would be in Ireland. But meeting my Irish husband in Africa 26 years ago changed all that," she says. "You can achieve your professional goals in many guises. Striving for excellence is always a good foundation."
Van Lieshout assumed her duties as advisor to the president of Ireland in March. — Sharon Rolenc
Kathleen O'Brien retires from the U of M
Kathleen O'Brien '67
After 10 years as vice president for University Services, Kathleen O'Brien SP'67 will retire from the University of Minnesota on June 30, 2012.
After graduating from St. Kate's, O'Brien earned a master's degree from Marquette University and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota in history. After completing her Ph.D. coursework, O'Brien remained at the University and taught courses in Minnesota history. She proceeded to represent the University neighborhood as a member of the Minneapolis City Council and then served as chief of staff to University President Nils Hasselmo.
"Over the past decade, she guided University Services through significant organizational change, service improvements and cost reductions, and led the way as the campus experienced tremendous physical changes....I've admired and respected her leadership and her great passion for the University of Minnesota, and am greatly appreciative of her work here," said University President Eric Kaler in his announcement of O'Brien's retirement.
O'Brien credits her professional path to the foundation laid by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and St. Catherine University. "From the CSJs, I learned to strive for excellence in all you do, to strive to make a difference and serve the community and have the courage to take on leadership roles. Many of my teachers at St. Margaret's Academy and St. Kate's were mentors and role models. I think of them regularly and am grateful for their guidance and faith in me."
She recently had the opportunity to guide the next generation of leaders when she gave this year's baccalaureate commencement address at St. Catherine University on May 20.
Upon retiring, O'Brien will shift her focus back to history. "I plan to re-engage in community service at the grassroots, to write the stories of events in Minnesota over the last 50 years and to enjoy being a historian again."—Deb Olsen Jacobe SP'82
St. Catherine Women Honored at Girl Scout Centennial Gala
Former State Senator Ellen Anderson and Congresswoman Betty McCollum SP'87 were among the honorees at the Centennial Awards Gala.
The Girl Scouts of the USA celebrated its 100th anniversary on March 12, 2012. In honor of this milestone, the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys recognized 100 women at a Centennial Awards Gala held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on April 21, 2012. The awards ceremony honored outstanding Girl Scout alumnae. The following St. Catherine University alumnae and supporters were honored for their courage, confidence, character and community contributions:
Distinguished Alumna Centennial Champion
Ann Bancroft (received the Alexandrine Medal in 1987) — co-founder, Bancroft Arnesen Explore; founder, Ann Bancroft Foundation.
Sharon Sayles Belton (received the Medal of Honor in 1991) — vice president, government affairs and community relations, Thomson Reuters; former mayor of Minneapolis.
Judy Mahle Lutter (received the Alexandrine Medal in 1991) — founder and president, Melpomene Institute for Women's Health Research.
Anita M. Pampusch SP'62 (President Emerita, St. Catherine University; received the Alexandrine Medal in 2004) — mayor of Lilydale, Minn.; retired president, Bush Foundation.
Maureen Hooley Bausch (former trustee, St. Catherine University) — executive vice president of business development, Mall of America.
Sara Hietpas Gavin SP'77 (former trustee, St. Catherine University; received the Alexandrine Medal in 2006) — president, Weber Shandwick, Minneapolis
Roxanne Marie Givens (former trustee, St. Catherine University) — principal and founder, Minnesota African American Museum
Betty McCollum SP'87 — representative, District 4, United States Congress
Joan Mondale (received the Medal of Distinction in 1987) — arts advocate and former Second Lady of the United States
Best In the Community Honoree
Beth Arteaga Ismil SP'04
For demonstrating outstanding service to her community, as well as inspiring others to join her, Beth Arteaga Ismil SP'04 was named a Target Corporation "Best in the Community" honoree in October 2011. She is employed as a group leader at Target's distribution center in Fridley, Minn.
Ismil also serves as the executive director of People Enhancing People (PEP), a nonprofit personal care assistant (PCA) provider in St. Anthony, Minn. When asked why she chose this role with PEP, Ismil said "I believe in the values of this organization — breaking down community barriers and creating opportunities for community engagement for individuals living with disabilities. I also believe in the vision they started with — optimal quality of life and independent living for everyone."
Because of her involvement with PEP, Ismil was featured in the article "Making a Contribution" from the May 2011 edition of Twin Cities Business. The article highlights how today's business school graduates are profoundly impacting nonprofit organizations. Ismil is a graduate of the MBA program at St. Mary's University of Minnesota. She also completed an executive director leadership certificate from the University of St. Thomas.
Ismil describes her passion for community service as her "place of wholeness." She wove this message into her keynote address, "Lessons in Resiliency: One Woman's Journey from Homelessness to Wholeness," at the St. Kate's Psi Chi (psychology honor society) initiation ceremony on April 12. —Deb Olsen Jacobe SP'82