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DePaul Cristo Rey High School

Q. As the new president of DePaul Cristo Rey, what most excites you about the school and the future?

A. DePaul Cristo Rey is in a place of profound transformation. We are getting ready to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. We have a new campus building. We are growing in enrollment and staff and faculty. We are getting ready for a new strategic plan and have the opportunity to build upon the foundation set by my predecessor, Sister Jeanne Bessette. We are set to move into a new place in this community.

Q. What does it mean to you to be named an Influential Woman of Greater Cincinnati?

A. It is an honor to be able to use my voice in a more public way to advance the mission of an organization that is interested in providing opportunities for young men and women. To be able to use one’s voice is what we encourage our students to do. To exemplify this in a public way is a true privilege. I do not take it lightly.

Q. When and why did you first gravitate to this career/line of work and how did you hope to change it for the better once you entered the field?

A. My trajectory in education has been nontraditional. I have  been  a steadfast advocate for children for 20 years. I was a summer school teacher at Summer Bridge in Cincinnati. When I went to college, I had already developed a heart to give back to youth and families. I went  to graduate school and received a master’s degree in social work and social policy at The University of Michigan. I then worked for a child advocacy agency in Lansing and spent my time advocating for youth across the state of Michigan.

I returned to Cincinnati and went to law school. However, I did not finish. I actually got sick while in law school and took a year off. That time launched me into education. I joined AmeriCorps and helped develop a college and career program. That put me on the path to my calling. I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this time in my life. It is challenging work, particularly in these times, but I am certain of it being the right place for me.

It was never about the career or line of work; it was about changing lives. It is my hope that the wisdom and energy that I receive from  my faith can be imparted onto others and help them feel that wisdom and energy.

Q. You are just the second president of this growing, innovative school. What specific qualities and gifts do you believe you bring to the school and wider community?

A. The thing that makes me stand out in my field is that I wasn’t educationally trained to be an educator but had really great professional teachers. Having professional experiences outside of schools, I’ve had the opportunity to integrate what I know from law, policy, social work, and counseling frameworks. However, in everything I do, every decision I make, the quality I most rely on is my personal faith. It grounds and guides everything for me.

Q. Schools faced many challenges in 2020 and many still remain. What challenges are unique to and face dpcr in the year ahead?

A. The one challenge that always presents itself to us at DPCR is also our greatest blessing, which is that it truly does takes a village to make this education model work. So many individuals and organizations  are part of our great story, and each supports our unique program in many ways. Our model requires deep and continued partnership across many constituent groups, especially those in our Corporate Work Study Program. We continue to seek and invite willing partners into the development of our students — both organizations that can offer job placements, and individuals who want to sponsor our students in this program.