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Women Leaders in the Ignatian Family

Catharine Steffens

Institution: Jesuit Schools Network | Secretariat for Education, Society of Jesus, Rome

Title: Director of Global Partnerships and Initiatives | Assistant for Global Initiatives

Location: Washington, D.C.

Other Jesuit institutional connections:

  • On the Educate Magis Board
  • Taught at Brophy College Preparatory
  • Taught at Georgetown Preparatory School

What does your job entail?
My role in both jobs is to animate and promote the interconnectedness of our local, regional and world community within the Jesuit Schools Network and throughout the global network of Jesuit schools. This includes the creation of programs and resources in collaboration with others as we accompany each other in the formation of an Ignatian network that is globally mindful, competent and active.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The formation of relationships with Ignatian educators and leaders from across the globe is my favorite part of both jobs. Deep and authentic collaboration with others is an ongoing gift and learning opportunity for me, and along the way we have had the honor of truly putting into practice an Ignatian way of proceeding.

How does Ignatian spirituality shape your approach to work?
As my own formation and global relationships have grown over the years, Ignatian spirituality has taken root at the core of my approach to my work. To state it simply, I find myself paying attention to my projects, interactions, and daily tasks through the lens of whether my actions and approach are bringing me closer to God or moving me away from God. It really can be that simple when I take the needed moments to step back and review.

How could the Jesuits and the church as a whole foster women’s leadership more effectively?
The Jesuits and the church as a whole can better foster women’s leadership by carefully listening to women’s professional voices and contributions. With this awareness of the contributions, perspectives, capabilities and lived experiences that women bring to leadership, more opportunities can be made available to us. The greatest fear is the unknown; knowledge, companionship and open-hearted encounter with others is the best way forward.