The 2011 Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership
Catholic Worker, executive director of Casa Marianella, friend to thousands who have received shelter, food, clothing, new life, and friendship through the ministry of Casa Marianella.
Since 1989, you have led Casa to expand its outreach to people in need. You have added a community center to provide classes and other services. Recently responding to ever growing needs among the immigrant population, you added Posada Esperanza, which includes two houses with space for single women immigrants and their children. Casa has expanded even more by becoming a place for refuge and new beginnings for political asylees from all countries. Bishop John McCarthy of the Catholic Diocese of Austin has written in praise of the work of Casa Marianella describing you as the “driving force” in its successful delivery of services. Today Casa Marianella assists some 900 people each year.
Your friends and colleagues describe your leadership as one that empowers young staff volunteers to do the work of intake of new residents, managing the day to day running of the shelter, caring for the health needs and well being of the residents, and all the while maintaining the atmosphere of community and compassion and grateful appreciation of the support of a broad network of donors and volunteers. Your leadership has been described as ‘graceful’. Your qualities of compassion and humility are undergirded by your passion for justice and maintaining the integrity of Casa’s mission.
Those who know you well note that it is not just in your work that you live as a servant leader, but in every aspect of your life. You have literally stood shoulder to shoulder with the dispossessed in Austin to ensure that they are treated fairly and not harassed simply because they are immigrants. Your home is a place of hospitality as much as is Casa Marianella. Annually, you and your husband, Walter, open your home to the Casa community for an Easter party, complete with music, Easter egg hunt, food and a piñata. One of your friends has said that every aspect of your life reflects a commitment to your vocation of reflecting Christ’s love.
In appreciation of your commitment to serve “the least of these” we rejoice in presenting you the Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership.
Douglas Travis Cynthia Briggs Kittredge
Dean and President Academic Dean