Kathy J McDow

Rev. Kathy J. McDow ’78

Why are you serving on the Council on Equity and Inclusion?
I sincerely hope to bring my life’s offering and assist the Council in continuing to elevate the discussion around equity and inclusion; to facilitate raising the standards of acceptance among all; and help to enrich the St. Olaf community while striving for equity and inclusion in all its endeavors. I am humbled by the invitation to be part of such a worthy experiment of our times.

What drives your interest in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracist work?
As an African American female who grew up in the Civil Rights era, I am all too familiar with the pain and suffering of being considered “other” by our society. In the not-too-distant past people who looked like me did not have access to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness extended to most white Americans. Over the years and through my faith and hard work, I have succeeded in turning pain into a purpose of sharing my life experiences to help others reach an understanding and commitment to this work.

When someone asks you how they can support this work on campus, what is your advice?
I would suggest to an individual to participate in an honest, self-assessment regarding personal thoughts on the subject matter and consult with Council leadership to determine needs within the community. Open your heart and mind to possibly hearing difficult information about yourself and others. Commit to becoming an agent of change to carry messages of healing both within the St. Olaf community and your circle of influence.

What is your hope for the future of St. Olaf?
My hope for the future of St. Olaf is the same as the hope I have for America and the world where people readily embrace and value the humanity of all others first and foremost. Further, I hope for a future where individuals and associated cultural norms are not diminished in any way by their perceived differences. Ongoing learning, patience, and compassion are standard-bearers of tolerant behavior!