Cathy Brennan is a 1970 St. Kate’s alumna and a member of University’s Campaign Cabinet. She majored in occupational therapy and has been engaged in the field for 51 years, recently retiring from multiple leadership roles at the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association.
Brennan held many positions during her occupational therapy career, and many therapists and patients have benefited from her advocacy for the profession. She became engaged in both state and federal advocacy and developed the peer review system for the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association, working with insurance companies to bring fairness to the review process. Brennan has received numerous awards in her field, was co-chair of the 2012 Opus Prize, which St. Catherine University spearheaded that year, and was honored to receive the St. Kate’s Alumni Award in 2013.
“I initially became engaged with students from St. Kate’s as they were completing their practice internships,” she said. “I found that St. Kate’s students were ‘a cut above’ in how they sought to further their education. They understood that therapy was more than just teaching daily living skills. The importance of becoming compassionate leaders with cultural competency in the growing field of occupational therapy was also a significant piece of their learning.” Brennan also served as an adjunct faculty member for the University, teaching courses when occupational therapy faculty members were on sabbatical. She also earned a master’s degree in instructional design from the University of St. Thomas.
“I began my first donations to St. Kate’s through the influence of my mother, Jane Keefe Clifford, who at the time was alumna fund director at St. Kate’s and an emerita member of the Board of Trustees. She was an ardent supporter and believed in giving back to the institution that enabled her and me to grow both in our professions and our faith. My sister and I decided to honor our mother by establishing the Jane Keefe Clifford Endowed Scholarship Fund for students majoring in Spanish (her major), and we continue to support it.”
Scholarship aid, in fact, is a major priority of Lead & Influence: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence. “I’ve chosen to continue my support as I have seen how the education I received was transformational in my life, and also is transformational for the current students who receive scholarships,” said Brennan. “Receiving letters of heartfelt thanks from students who have benefited from our scholarship fund is truly gratifying.”
As a member of the Campaign Cabinet, Brennan has spoken with many alumnae about the campaign’s priorities, and especially the importance of ongoing gifts through scholarship funds. “The impact of scholarship dollars is truly a blessing for the many diverse students from middle- and lower-income backgrounds. The future remains strong with the generosity of gifts that prepare Katies to thrive in our complex society.”