Our Hearts Forever – Joan Kroc


Joan Kroc is remembered as a loving and transformational benefactor by the University of Notre Dame. However, even outside of the University, Joan was an amazing woman and philanthropist.

Joan was born Joan Mansfield in 1928 in West St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Humboldt High School in 1945. While she didn’t have the money to attend college, she had taken music lessons at the prestigious MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, which she parlayed into several different roles. Joan met her future husband McDonald’s Corp founder Ray Kroc in 1957, but the two would not wed until 1969.

After Ray’s death, in 1985, The Joan B. Kroc Foundation donated $18.5 million to what is now known as San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine to create its multi-purpose hospice center. In 2002, Joan helped to fund the Kroc Center, a large Salvation Army community center, and later opened up Salvation Army Kroc Centers across the nation, with the largest one-time gift ever recorded of $1.6 billion. Joan was also the owner of the San Diego Padres up until 1990, during which she started Major League Baseball’s first employee-assistance program for players and staff with drug problems. Joan was nominated and inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

Hesburgh Center for International Studies Dedication – Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, and Joan Kroc, 1991.

During the mid-1980s, Joan heard about Notre Dame when then University President, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., spoke at an event in San Diego about the escalating nuclear arms race. Moved by his speech, she made a gift to establish an institute at Notre Dame dedicated to peace, along with an additional gift later to build the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, which now houses the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. In 2003, Joan made a $50 million gift, the single largest gift in the history of Notre Dame at the time.

From 1985 until her death in 2003, Joan contributed a total of $69.1 million to establish and support the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. The Kroc Institute has now grown to include a faculty of about two dozen Kroc Institute scholar-teachers, as well as thriving academic programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. levels.

Kroc Institute alumni (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Erin Corcoran, Executive Director at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, said of Joan’s impact:

There would be no Kroc Institute without the generosity of Mrs. Joan B. Kroc. Her commitment to creating a more just and peaceful society through her many gifts has enabled the Kroc Institute to become a world leader in the study of the causes of violence and strategies for building peace around the world. In partnership with Fr. Hesburgh, Mrs. Kroc dreamed of an Institute at Notre Dame that could bring students together from various countries and backgrounds to understand and find solutions to the biggest problems facing humanity. And through the seeds that Mrs. Kroc sowed, we can report that this vision has come to fruition. The Kroc Institute’s alumni network includes over 1,800 Notre Dame graduates working for peace in over 100 countries around the globe.

Through her philanthropy, Joan Kroc was a voice for the voiceless. She was often referred to as “Saint Joan of Arches” for her astounding generosity. Joan’s legacy, as summarized by her biographer Lisa Napoli, “Simple: Give. Giving is a crucial part of being alive. Even if you’re not wealthy, live and give large, embracing everything around you.” And Joan truly did.

Our Hearts Forever – Kathleen Andrews

Kathleen Andrews was, and still remains, a well-known and respected figure throughout the Notre Dame community for her many accomplishments both at the University and throughout her life. She served on the University’s McGrath Institute for Church Life Advisory Council and the Ireland Advisory Council, and she was a respected member of the University’s Board of Trustees, to which she was elected in 1993. Three years later, she made history as the first woman to serve as a Fellow of the University. In 2003, Notre Dame bestowed Kathleen with an honorary degree, and in 2004, she was presented with the Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C Award, which is presented annually to a graduate who has embodied “the values of Our Lady’s University” in his or her service to the community.

A native of Ashtabula, Ohio, and the youngest of seven, Kathleen knew her future dreams depended on getting an education. Through her hard work, she received a full-ride scholarship to Notre Dame College in Cleveland. She later earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1963 from the University of Notre Dame, during which time she met her beloved husband, James (Jim) Andrews.

The Andrews, together with John (another Notre Dame alumnus) and Susan McMeels, founded Universal Press Syndicate, now Andrews McMeel Universal, in 1970. Kathleen served as chief financial officer and secretary of the company until she paused her full-time involvement in order to take care of her two young sons, Hugh and Jim. After the passing of her husband, Kathleen returned to the company and, with the McMeels, helped to grow it into the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world and a renowned publishing powerhouse behind such classics as Ziggy, Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes. She served as the chief executive officer until her retirement in 2006.

To honor her late husband, Kathleen and the McMeels created two endowments that helped launch and sustain the University’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP). SSLP is an initiative of the Center for Social Concerns and Notre Dame Alumni Association. The program allows Notre Dame students to engage in summer-long service projects with non-profit organizations related to healthcare, poverty, immigration, education, and other social issues. These projects are both enriching and life-changing, and they benefit communities across the country.

David Dias, a current junior at the University of Notre Dame, said of his SSLP experience:

“This past summer (2021), I had the chance to immerse myself in the community of L’Arche Noah Sealth in Capitol Hill Seattle. L’Arche strives to highlight the gifts that those with intellectual and physical disabilities have through fostering community. L’Arche is part of a greater organization around the world that currently has 154 communities globally. Specifically, in the Seattle community, there are 3 homes in the same vicinity that engage in daily activities and community events regularly…Every week my responsibilities included cooking, cleaning, driving people to and from work, community events, outings, and prayer…I found myself having time to live in the moment and spend quality time with the folks and people living with me. One particular quote I loved that explains the beauty of L’Arche is, ‘The world says change and be accepted. L’arche says accept and be transformed.’”

Summer Service Learning Program Group Photo – 2019

Thousands of students like David can attribute their transformational SSLP experiences to Kathleen, and countless others, including her friends and family, continue to remember her loving and generous spirit.

“She gave in all directions. It’s been a little since April last year when she passed, and I’ve received a lot of requests and letters and follow-ups from all around the country that I never knew anything about,” said her son, Hugh Andrews. “She just felt very blessed and loved. She used to claim that she never worked a day in her life because she loved the career, she loved the people we dealt with and, as she got older, one of the biggest things in our life was the scholarship program. She was proud of it and her association with the University of Notre Dame.”

While history will always remember Kathleen as a pioneer, she serves too as an enduring inspiration: a “gal from Ashtabula” who, through her hard work and generous spirit, has impacted the lives of thousands of students, as well as the lives of tens of thousands of community members helped by the SSLP.

Our Hearts Forever – Florence Dailey

The first woman philanthropist at Notre Dame that the Hesburgh Women of Impact will be highlighting and honoring is Florence Dailey, whose estate gift in the 1960s was one of the largest in Notre Dame history.

Florence was working as a secretary at a bank in upstate New York in the early part of the twentieth century when her boss encouraged her, among many of his employees, to buy stock in his friend’s new company. Florence took her boss’s advice and invested in the company, and kept that stock throughout the rest of her life, seemingly forgetting about it. That friend of her boss turned out to be George Eastman, and the company that he was launching was Eastman Kodak. At the time of her death in 1966, Florence owned approximately 154,000 shares of Kodak.

Florence had never married nor had any children, but as a Catholic, she valued faith, hard work, and the value of a good education above all else. Due to these values, when it came to writing her last will and testament, she wanted to give to Catholic education, specifically one of the most prestigious Catholic universities she had heard of. So, although she had no known association with the University of Notre Dame, she left half of her estate to the University.

Planned gifts such as this have made an incredible impact at Notre Dame. Since Notre Dame’s earliest days, planned gifts have sustained and advanced the sacred mission of Our Lady’s University in innumerable ways. From supporting scholarships, to funding professorships and even a deanship, planned gifts have helped to shape the Notre Dame we know today. In fact, it was a planned gift of more than 500 acres of land from Father Stephen Theodore Badin that enabled the historic founding of Notre Dame in 1842. Through planned gifts, Notre Dame’s sacred mission will continue to flourish—today, tomorrow, and forever.

The University of Notre Dame used Florence Dailey’s gift to endow the John & Mary Boyle Dailey Memorial Scholarship, named after Florence’s parents. This scholarship has provided financial aid for thousands of students, including junior Al Godlewski.

When the time came to apply to colleges, my heart knew that I wanted to go to Notre Dame, but I knew my parents were never going to be able to afford it. With some research, I was able to find the QuestBridge Scholarship program, a program that seeks to pair high achieving students from lower-income families and get them full scholarships to attend elite universities. Thankfully, I was accepted into the program and matched with my top choice, the University of Notre Dame.

Coming to Notre Dame was the best thing that ever happened to me. Through hard work and dedication, I set myself up to be able to come to this school and succeed under the rigorous coursework that Notre Dame provides. I have made so many friends and met so many amazing people that I wouldn’t have met at any other University. This was my dream school, and I am thankful every single day for this blessing.

-Al Godlewski, Class of 2023

Florence’s generous decision to give has lived on for decades past her life and continues to help provide many students with the amazing gift of a Notre Dame education.

Gracie Mikol ’22

Gracie Mikol is a current Junior at the University of Notre Dame, and will graduate in the spring of 2022. She is in the Mendoza College of Business as a management consulting major with an innovation and entrepreneurship minor and a sustainability minor. Gracie is also a member of SCNO (Student Consulting for Non-Profits), Adopt a Family Christmas, and the co-vice president of Transpose Dance Collective. She founded the nonprofit Fueled By Kids in 2016 to provide meals to food-insecure children.

Fueled By Kids is fighting against COVID-19 by helping to assure that students whose families were already food insecure or have become food insecure because of COVID-19 have a guaranteed source of food all week long. Children who live in homes that suffer from food insecurity face a high amount of uncertainty in their everyday lives which can prevent them from focusing on school work. Fueled By Kids attempts to relieve that uncertainty by making sure that these children have a guaranteed source of food all week long. Fueled By Kids works with the Manchester School District to identify and pass out bags at public elementary schools on Friday afternoons, combined with the National School Lunch Program, which provides students from low-income households with free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school, Fueled By Kids’ weekend food bag assures these students have two meals a day every day of the week. When COVID-19 became an issue in the Manchester area, the non-profit worked with the assistant superintendent to assure that its services would continue to be provided. Eight busses follow bus routes every weekday passing out bags of breakfast and lunch, bags go on the busses every Friday to continue to provide weekend food. The non-profit also increased its number of weekly bags provided to 600 from 400 to try to respond to the increased need for our services as a result of COVID-19.

“Notre Dame is focused on teaching us how to be leaders in not only business, but also in our communities. I started Fueled By Kids when I was in high school and what attracted me to Notre Dame was its commitment to giving back. I may not want to have a career in nonprofits, but Notre Dame is showing me how I can always keep giving back in my life. Our professors encourage us to find success in whatever industry interests us but also reminds us that to be truly successful we must use that success to help those less fortunate than us.” -Gracie Mikol

Yenupini Joyce Adams

Yenupini Joyce Adams is a visiting assistant professor of global health in the Keough School of Global Affairs. She also has an affiliation with Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health. Before coming to Notre Dame, Adams was an assistant professor in the WellStar School of Nursing at Kennesaw State University. She earned her PhD from the College of Nursing at Michigan State University and her bachelor of science in nursing from Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her clinical expertise is in maternal/newborn nursing (RNC-MNN). Adams is passionate about using research and community interventions to improve maternal health, promote safe motherhood, and decrease maternal mortality and morbidity among vulnerable populations in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa, where the burden of maternal mortality is most severe.

Adams’ research aims to address maternal health disparities that lead to mortality. She particularly examines factors, both patient and healthcare facility centered, that influence access to and quality of postpartum care among vulnerable populations. Under these broad research goals, she is currently pursuing two research tracks at the intersection of postpartum complications and maternal mortality: 1) maternity care providers’ knowledge, teaching and management of potential complications, and 2) women’s knowledge of and care-seeking for postpartum complications. Her research is guided by and contributes to the Three Delays Model originally developed by Thaddeus and Maine (1994). Adams’ future work will focus on developing interventions to improve postpartum outcomes. While Adams’ research focuses mainly on access to and quality of postpartum care, she has also done work on women’s preconception reproductive knowledge and other maternal health issues.

Adams has received research grants from national nursing organizations such as the American Nurses Foundation and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses and published in peer-reviewed journals in nursing such as Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, Journal of Nursing Scholarship, and Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing . She was the recipient of the 2020 New Investigator Award by the Midwest Nursing Research Society women’s health and transitions in childbearing research interest group. She was also a recipient of the AACN/Johnson & Johnson Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars Award by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2013).

Otakuye Conroy-Ben ‘98

Otakuye Conroy-Ben is the first Lakota woman to earn a doctorate degree in environmental engineering. She has three degrees including a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Notre Dame, where she graduated in 1998. She serves as an assistant professor at Arizona State University and received the 2019 Technical Excellence Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

She was working with tribal communities to examine evidence of substance abuse in their wastewater when that public health concern was eclipsed by another: the coronavirus. It soon became clear that Conroy-Ben could apply her research to the emerging crisis and the federal calls for funding proposals to investigate the virus’ impacts. While there are many researchers who are interested in working with tribal communities, not many will not take the time to develop a relationship with them. Otakuye did take the time, and she is now leading two federal grants, one from the National Science Foundation and one from the National Institutes of Health. One project is aimed at analyzing wastewater infrastructure on reservations, while the other uses wastewater epidemiology to measure coronavirus levels in tribal communities where the pandemic has taken an outsized toll. Otakuye and her team look at those wastewater samples in order to determine how prevalent the virus is within a tribal community. They then pass that information on to tribal health administrators, who can use that information in a beneficial way by implementing public health measures such as mask mandates and gathering limits.

This research will not be limited to just this current pandemic. Otakuye’s methods of analyzing wastewater will be used to monitor a variety of different health metrics such as levels of substance abuse, the flu, and biomarkers for diabetes, a matter of particular concern for tribal communities.

Cathy David – Inspired Leadership Initiative

Originally publish in the ILI Newsletter March 2020

Cathy David moved to South Bend (for the second time) about six months ago. She had some friends in the area but has made plenty more and also met with plenty of students. She has visited local museums, taken in theatre, hiked state parks, and could give a restaurant suggestion for whatever your taste. All this, while tackling the University of Notre Dame’s Inspired Leadership Initiative (ILI) coursework and programming.

It’s David’s enchantment with the world around her—wherever she might be—that has buoyed her successful career and fulfilling life.

“I love trying to understand how people live and think and what their lives look like as a whole, she says, “So I have worked mostly in consumer products and the home industry. I am fascinated by people and ideas and possibilities.”

Surrounded by accounting professionals in her family, David says she was “born a business major.” She serendipitously wound up at Notre Dame after a high school boyfriend introduced her to the school, and she discovered its prestige in this field. She was also born a leader, and while she earned a marketing degree from ND, she served as president of her residence hall and student body vice president.

Graduating with three job offers, she spent the summer in Japan teaching children English and then started her career in California with Gallo Winery.

“My goal from early in my career has been to be happy, to be challenged, and to make a difference,” she says, and while she was at Gallo and later at Target, she continued to serve Notre Dame as the young alumni member of the Mendoza College of Business Advisory Council and Board of Trustees.

Since then, she has lived in eight different states—some multiple times—packing up “for school, for work, and for love.”

One move for school came after her time at Gallo. Planning to pivot her career toward international brand management and eventually move overseas, David enrolled in Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She earned an MBA focused on international relations and added organizational behavior because it interested her.

She also took her next job because it interested her—a lesson in following your instincts.

“I went to work for a really small company that had 300 stores based in the Midwest called Target,” she says, recognizing the irony. “There was something about the company. I thought it was fascinating.”

Believing that the more you know about a business from end to end, the more effective you can be, David was a buyer and asked for a field assignment. She worked in a store and then returned to HQ and the Merchandising team. As part of her role, she participated in campus recruiting and established the relationship between Notre Dame and Target. And when the Internet came along, and Target had not yet committed to the technology, she planned to find a new company where she could work in the e-commerce space. Instead, they asked her to stay and help launch the new venture. She became one of the first employees of target.com, ultimately rising to vice-president and general manager.

Thirsty for new adventures, David moved to new businesses and new corners of the country. She was president of a frame company in Austin, Texas, then she went to the Great Indoors, then Kirkland’s, and then she moved to small-town Tennessee, bought a restaurant, and raced and raised thoroughbred horses (her husband’s passion).

Most recently, she retired from Pier One as chief merchant—a perfect fit role that took her around the world studying people and seeking out interesting products. She still makes her home in the company’s home of Fort Worth. It was during this last phase, and in a brief period of time, that David became both a widow and a breast cancer “overcomer” (her word, which suits her better than “survivor”). These hardships weigh on David, but they do not weigh her down. She has kept her wide-eyed captivation with the world and the people in it. She is cheerful and hopeful and grateful. She would tell you that other people have faced far worse.

It was with this mindset, she decided to take a break when she left Pier One.

“I was new to not-employed, and I wanted to take a gap year. I spent a lot of time traveling and visiting family and friends—being present and with people I hadn’t been able to connect with due to the busyness of life. I was able to do some hands-on work with charities I have supported financially, such as sorting donations at the food pantry and delivering Meals on Wheels to clients.”

But in time, this amazing freedom felt less and less so.

“When everything’s possible,” David says, “It’s almost paralyzing. It’s hard to focus on what matters most. At the time I was 55, and I am going to live to be 104, and I felt like I should have a little more purpose in terms of what was important to me.”

Still connected to her alma mater through various roles, including Hesburgh Women of Impact and the Undergraduate Experience Advisory Council, David heard about the ILI program and was invited to attend a Discovery Weekend. But she wasn’t convinced.

“Then three friends each sent me notes about the program, and said this is for you,” she recalls. “These were people who knew me, and had a good sense for me, and were people I really respected.”

Feeling like this might be a “God wink,” David was compelled to at least attend an ILI Discovery Weekend. She did so—with a list of reasons why enrolling wasn’t a good idea—but she left committed to applying.

“It was one of those things where suddenly I really thought it was the next right thing,” she says.

And halfway through her time in the program, she can confirm it was.

“I love asking questions, exploring options, being part of the University, being in classes, and having relationships with students and professors,” she says. “And I am fortunate to have some great friends outside of the program and inside the program.”

As such, David may already be playing a role in “God winks” for future fellows.

“When people find out about the program, they see the incredible value in the experience and want to be a part of the program when the time is right for them,” she says.

David believes the ILI will flourish and more and more people will be continuing their education or retiring to college communities, like her current hometowns of South Bend and Fort Worth.

They would be lucky to know David. She could offer unparalleled advice on any activity and invaluable friendship on any adventure.

Tricia Curtin ’23

Tricia Curtin ‘23 is currently a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame. As a pre-med track student, she is pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a supplemental major in Spanish. Tricia’s passion for promoting a holistic vision of health inspired her to start her Instagram account, @curtinkitchen, where she posts photos and videos of delicious, healthy meals. Her colorful, artfully-plated eats and simple to follow recipes have garnered her account over 4,000 followers.

She began the project in the original March 2020 quarantine after her mother caught COVID and she began cooking much more frequently. What started as a creative outlet to share with her friends became a small business endeavor, garnering sponsorships and free products from small companies! Her favorite part of making food is sharing it with her friends, family members, and classmates.

Tricia is originally from Westchester, New York. Prior to attending Notre Dame, she was a National Merit Scholar at Kennedy Catholic High School. When she is not cooking up new creations, she is spending time with friends, studying, or at the gym!

Erin Clarke ’08

Erin Clarke ’08 learned to bake in her Grammy’s kitchen on summer afternoons. Today, Clarke is the creator of the blog Well Plated and author of The Well Plated Cookbook, both of which are dedicated to making healthy eating affordable, accessible, and delicious. Inspired by the comfort foods of her childhood, Clarke set out to make some of those classic recipes healthier, or put a new twist on them. She started the blog in 2012 as a hobby, sharing the budget-friendly recipes she created while her husband, Ben Clarke ’08, was in law school. Now the site has grown to include more than 1,300 recipes and receives millions of visitors every month, along with the cookbook and an Instagram account with nearly 140,000 followers.

Clarke, who lives in Milwaukee, has cooked live on Good Morning America from her home kitchen, and been featured in People magazine and on Wisconsin Public Radio. As her blog following has grown and publicity rolled in from the cookbook, Clarke says she keeps the focus on being of service to her readers and that, “at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and community.”

And so many readers are making her recipes because Clarke makes every effort to remove barriers to cooking healthy recipes at home. Her blog posts include step-by-step videos and suggestions for substitutions if you don’t have certain ingredients on hand, as well as options to adapt a recipe for certain dietary needs, like for gluten free or paleo diets. And she ends the posts with tips for storing, reheating, and freezing the dish. Clarke, who was a marketing major at Notre Dame, started Well Plated in 2012.

Sinai Vespie

Sinai Vespie has served as Executive Pastry Chef for Campus Dining since 2017. In her role, Vespie oversees operations of the pastry and bake shops located in the Center for Culinary Excellence and serves as a member of the Campus Dining Culinary Council.

Vespie brought with her a wealth of experience. She began her career as a junior sous chef at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. She then moved to the Sweet Treats Cakery in Tampa where she honed her cake decorating skills and wowed customers with her custom cupcake and cake designs. Vespie worked as pastry chef at the the Tampa Marriott Waterside, managing a complete pastry program and staff, collaborating with catering and wedding clients, and creating menus utilizing seasonal ingredients from the area’s local farms.

Vespie is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando, Florida with an Associate Degree in Applied Science from their Patisserie and Baking Program. She has competed in various pastry and decorating competitions, receiving multiple first and second place awards for wedding cake decorating and assorted chocolate confections. In 2020, Vespie competed against 9 other chefs in the Halloween Baking Championship on the Food Network and took home the top prize.