Reunion 2021: Distinguished Alumna

Kathleen Callan Brady, Class of 1971

Kathleen BradyThe Distinguished Alumna Award honors an alumna who exemplifies the standards, ideals, and mission of Saint Mary’s College and has distinguished herself through consistent support of Saint Mary’s and ongoing work for the Alumnae Association. This year, we honor Kathleen Callan Brady, Class of 1971.

Kathleen's career spans both the legal and non-profit worlds. She started her career as a law clerk at Miller Brewing Company in 1973 and joined its legal department after law school graduation. During the next 30 years she was a member of Miller’s legal department and outside counsel.

In 2007, Kathleen changed career paths and directed her energy to non-profit work. She worked for PAVE, an organization that funded scholarships for low-income students attending parochial and charter schools, as well as technical assistance and leadership development programs for these schools. Later, she worked for the Dominican Center for Women located in Milwaukee's Amani neighborhood, where she supported the founders’ holistic approach by listening to residents’ needs for community development, education and women's programming.

In 2020 the pandemic led Kathleen to Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, whose mission is to create a neighborhood where residents are safe, connected to each other, have access to educational and economic opportunities, and celebrate diversity and culture. From the immediate onset of the COVID pandemic, there was a critical lack of food and supplies. Kathleen secured funding to support Metcalfe Park’s ongoing Mutual Aid program that has provided more than 11,000 direct deliveries of food, personal protective equipment, and supplies for residents. 

Metcalfe Park Community Bridges staff recognized that women and youth were acutely affected by isolation and anxiety during the pandemic. Moms of Metcalfe Park was launched to provide an organized safe, compassionate, non-judgmental place where women, many of whom are single mothers, can  meet virtually to share stories and support one another. Kathleen secured funding for this program, and successfully reached out to Arlene Montevecchio, Saint Mary’s director of spirituality—for inspirational readings that are shared at these gatherings.

Inspired by Charlie Poinsette, PhD, and his Renaissance and Reformation class that included Boccacio’s “The Decameron,” Kathleen suggested a Metcalfe Park Decameron for youth. She recruited local professors, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Milwaukee Repertory Theater and funding from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. This project of poetry, spoken word and song composed by Metcalfe Park youth launched in January 2021 and will culminate in both live and virtual performances in June.

Kathleen's many volunteer activities reflect her commitment to her faith, community, social justice, and love of history and the law. From serving on the Human Concerns Committee at St. Anthony’s on the Lake parish to facilitating ethical end-of-life care discussions with medical students, she gives of herself, even as she faced her own cancer and its complications. “She does not define herself as a ‘cancer survivor.’ She prefers to look forward and her mantra is ‘Every day is a good day,’” wrote her son, John, in his nomination. One of three adopted children, John continued, “She planted the seeds within us to help others and showed us a life of service.”

Kathleen’s significant career and community leadership accomplishments, along with her compassion, dedication to helping others, and ceaseless service to those underserved exemplify the mission of Saint Mary’s College. The Alumnae Association is pleased to present the 2021 Distinguished Alumna Award to Kathleen Callan Brady, Class of 1971.