Mary Jo Abler is a 1987 St. Catherine University alumna and current trustee. After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Kate’s, Abler achieved a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester in New York and a master’s in management of technology from the University of Minnesota. Abler has put her education to work at 3M, applying her expertise across multiple company divisions for 30 years. This includes three years as vice president and general manager of the communication markets division, which she successfully led through its divestiture from 3M. Abler’s last position before retiring from 3M in 2020 was vice president of new technologies and platforms.
Like many forward thinkers, Abler began building her legacy early in her career. “I first started donating to St. Kate’s shortly after I completed grad school and began working,” she says. Abler attributes her generosity to gratitude for “a built-in advantage of having been educated at St. Kate’s, compared to my colleagues. Confidence, leadership, collaboration, empathy, and integrity are all words that come to mind when I think about my education at St. Kate’s.”
Abler embodies one of the most distinctive characteristics of St. Kate’s history: women empowered not only to succeed, but lead in STEM fields. Part of her strategy to further advance the careers and innovations of women in STEM is by championing the Mendel science building renovation priority of St. Kate’s LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence.
“As a Board of Trustees member, lending my voice and experience to the importance of women in STEM and therefore the absolute need to modernize Mendel to serve the needs of today [is important to me],” says Abler. “On a recent tour of Mendel, I had many fond memories of the hours I spent learning in classrooms and experimenting in labs. It also affirmed to me that, as wonderful as Mendel was, to be impactful to today’s and tomorrow’s students, it needs this investment.” Abler goes on to explain that “the campaign addresses all those needs, being very grounded in advancing the mission of the University — educating women to LEAD and INFLUENCE.”
At the core of Abler’s support for her alma mater is her belief that “St. Kate’s is such a unique and special place to impact the world disproportionally for its size.” Considering the campaign, she describes this as a historic moment for the institution: “With the number of women and especially underserved communities (BIPOC, first-generation, students with children) the opportunities become limitless, and the ability to lead and influence is amplified. At the most basic level, I am a huge believer in ‘pay it back to pay it forward.’ For anyone who graduated from St. Kate’s or has experienced the impact of a Katie — now is the time to support the next generation of Katies as they help change the world.”