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2015 McAuley Hall Inductees

2015 McAuley Hall of Honor Inductees, from left to right:
Barbara Bansley Cronin '91 and Mary Kate Bansley '06 accepted the award for Barbara McCann Bansley, SXA ‘50; President Mary Acker Klingenberger '75; Kathy Gordon Davis; Sister Rosemary Connelly, RSM; Anne Bigane Wilson ‘76; Roberta “Robbie” Kuchler O’Shea ‘81; and Theresa Beran Kulat ‘80

The Mother McAuley/Saint Xavier Academy Alumnae Association inductd seven women into the McAuley Hall of Honor on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Congratulations to the seven amazing women who were recognized. You may click the link below to visit a special video highlighting the honorees. You also may read their bios below.

Honoree Video

Anne Bigane Wilson ‘76

Since 1987, Anne Bigane Wilson has been the President of family-owned Bigane Paving Co.  As the fourth generation family member to lead the company, Anne’s strong ethics and character make her a highly respected colleague within her profession.  Anne helped to pioneer the green application of asphalt of pavement utilized in the Green Alleys program in the city of Chicago. 

Says one nominator:

“Anne Bigane Wilson is a clear example to young women of how to achieve professional success while also maintaining strong moral character and community involvement.  Without McAuley, Anne wouldn’t be where she is today.  But without Anne, McAuley would be without a truly committed, qualified, and loyal ambassador.”

Anne always has valued the encouragement she received from McAuley to enter the male-dominated engineering field.  She was one of the first women enrolled in the Construction Engineering and Management program at Purdue University, and believes her education at McAuley prepared her to be a strong independent thinker, and aided her as she graduated from a difficult and rigorous program in under four years.  Her ongoing support of and involvement at Purdue, coupled with a strong dedication to her field has earned Anne many awards, including the Purdue University Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award and the Illinois Governor’s Small Business Person of the Year Award. 

Anne’s presence at McAuley continues today.  Since 2012, she has served on the Mother McAuley Board of Trustees, and recently was named Chairperson.   She annually participates in Alumnae Career Day and the Student Scholarship Golf Outing.  In 2010, Anne and her four sisters – all alumnae of Mother McAuley – established the Bigane Family Scholarship for senior students, as a gift to their mother.  The funds may be used for tuition assistance and also graduation expenses, retreat costs and senior activities. 

Roberta “Robbie” Kuchler O’Shea ‘81

Professionally and personally, Robbie continually personifies the spirit of Catherine McAuley.  As a licensed physical therapist and a professor at Governors State University, she brings her compassion and care to assist children ages 0-3 who have developmental difficulties, particularly underprivileged and at-risk infants and their families.

When Robbie sees a need, she takes action.  She delivers groceries to clients and helped pay for funeral arrangements for a client whose family could not afford them.  As her nominator wrote:

“People who know Robbie can’t help but be swept up by her enthusiasm, spirit and positive attitude.  She is not reticent to speak out for change on behalf of those who cannot advocate for themselves.  Most importantly, she remembers the source of her strength, an early education embedded in faith.”

Robbie and her husband are parents to two adopted children and offered their home to another young adult in need.  Her adoption experience helped her to write a short book entitled I’m Brown and My Sister Isn’t, in an effort to explain adoption to her own, as well as other multicultural-adopted children.  As a former member of Chicago Area Families for Adoption, and a two-term president for the group, Robbie uses her own experience as an adoptive parent to mentor other parents.

Robbie’s tireless spirit has led her to be recognized with many awards.  Twice she has been awarded the Faculty Excellence Award – the highest faculty award at Governors State University.  She also received the Crossroads Award for her research work investigating access to services in the Chicago suburbs for children with Cerebral Palsy.

Beyond her work, Robbie is a board member at the Center for Independence, a non-profit committed to improving the lives of children with physical disabilities.  Robbie remains a strong supporter of McAuley and active in her faith.  She is a member at St. Cletus parish where she volunteers on the Pastoral Parish Council, chaperons the youth mission trip and assists at the CREDO pilgrimage trip, and has been a guest lecturer in the school’s science classes.

Barbara McCann Bansley, SXA ‘50

Barbara Bansley was a woman of conviction, devoted to her Catholic faith and a strong proponent of Catholic education.  A mother of 12 children, Barbara did everything necessary to make sure each of her children received a Catholic education.  Barbara passed away in March of 2009.

Barbara attended Saint Xavier Academy and following her graduation in 1950 pursued her passion for art, becoming an art teacher for children, teens, adults, and the elderly.  For decades, Barbara empowered the minds of all those she taught, boosting their confidence and nurturing each student’s ability and fostering their creativity. 

Barbara didn’t just channel her passion into teaching, but into creating.  As a highly-regarded artist in Chicago, her work was featured in displays at the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, and the Beverly Art Center.  One of the venues that Barbara was most proud of was Mother McAuley’s very own theater, where her original work “Wit of America’s First Ladies” was performed under her direction. 

As said by one of her nominators:

“Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School is a place for young women to learn, build lasting friendships, nurture their spirit and celebrate their individuality all while providing an education devoted to God and the Catholic faith.  Barbara Bansley lived her life based on these same principals.”

Described as a “scholar” in her field of work by the Chicago Tribune, Barbara’s quest for learning never ceased. At age 65, she earned her master’s degree in interdisciplinary arts from Columbia College.  Her curious spirit led her to thrive in her program, winning her a major grant.

Barbara’s presence lives on through her work which adorns the halls at Mother McAuley, and her commitment to Catholic education lives on through her many daughters and granddaughters who attended McAuley.

Sister Rosemary Connelly, RSM

For more than 40 years, Sister Rosemary has influenced the Chicago community as the executive director of Misericordia Home in Chicago. 

What began as a humble place has developed today into an extraordinary home that offers 600 residents not only a place to live but a place to grow as individuals and thrive in a loving environment.  When Sister Rosemary first arrived at Misericorida she saw the potential that the residents had to grow and challenge themselves.  Self-driven, Sister Rosemary’s programs for primary education, self-help skills, speech and physical therapy and recreation are now programs that are re-created all over the country.  Mother McAuley students have volunteered, raised funds for Misericordia and strengthened their own cultural empathy under the inspiring leadership of Sister Rosemary.

As her nominator stated:

“I think a woman who has changed the world so profoundly, and done so in the name of God and the Sisters of Mercy, is the perfect McAuley Hall Inductee.  Sister Rosemary, like Catherine McAuley, was a bold young woman, fiercely influenced to do the right thing for those who could not necessarily do it for themselves.  Sister Rosemary has fought hard battles, changed minds and won over many hearts on her journey leaving virtually all she encounters in awe.”

Sister Rosemary has received many awards for hard work and dedication to Misericordia and those whose lives she touched.  She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a Chicagoan of the Year in 2014.  She also has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Loyola University, Marquette University, DePaul University, Lewis University, Saint Xavier University and Dominican University.

Kathy Gordon Davis

For more than 26 years, Kathy Gordon Davis has been as a faculty member in the Art Department at Mother McAuley, often serving as department chairperson.  Beloved by her colleagues, peers and students, Kathy’s can-do attitude and love of her profession exemplifies the superior teacher that makes McAuley stand out. 

Kathy coordinates opportunities for McAuley student to have their work publically displayed at various exhibitions within the community, affording them the real world experience of an artist.  Under her guidance, year to year, her students garner recognition and awards for their works.

As her nominator stated:

“Kathy Gordon Davis consistently finds ways to integrate new methods in an ever-changing profession and grow as a teacher.  She goes above and beyond for her students.  Her abundant accomplishments in the classroom and in her field provide proof of her outstanding teaching abilities and talent.”

Her dedication to and love for the Mother McAuley community is further affirmed through her role as an art instructor in a program she’s created for the retired Sisters of Mercy, and the summer art camps she directs for grade school students. She also designed the corner stone for the addition of the Music wing in 1993, and the Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School/St. Xavier Academy 160th Anniversary logo in 2006.

As a professional artist, Kathy’s work has been displayed at numerous exhibits. Her original work, The Valiant Woman, commissioned by the Saint Xavier Class of 1961, hangs in The Robert and Mary Rita Murphy Stump Library on the campus of Saint Xavier University. It depicts Mary, the Blessed Mother, the Venerable Catherine McAuley and other prominent women, illustrating the many roles a valiant woman plays in our history and society. 

Kathy’s numerous awards are a testament to her dedication to her profession and her students.  She has received the Catherine McAuley Award and the Board of Trustees Professional Development Award, respectively. She’s also been honored with the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Chicago and the “Who’s Who Among High School Teachers” Award six times.  She also is a member of the National Art Education Association, National Museum for Women in the Arts, and Kappa Gamma Pi – The National Catholic Graduate Honor Society, among many other organizations.

Theresa Beran Kulat ‘80

A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Theresa a.k.a. “Teri” helps families and businesses using Collaborative Law, a legal framework for resolving disputes respectfully without going to court.  So that she could integrate her faith into her professional life, she founded Trinity Family Law, P.C. a law firm with its mission to empower people in legal matters so that they can negotiate agreements that enable them to build healthy new lives, prosper financially and co-parent children effectively. 

Says a nominator:

“She has been a trailblazer for Collaborative Law, making peace out of discord.  Now she is developing next generation leaders - she founded the Trainers for the Advancement of Collaborative Practice, an organization that trains attorneys, mental health professionals and financial planners in Collaborative Practice.” 

Teri’s commitment to her craft is evident through her membership in the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (CLII), the International Association of Collaborative Practice, the Global Collaborative Law Council and Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois.  Her many leadership positions at CLII including Secretary, Director, practice group leader, training committee chair and, next year, President exemplify how Teri uses the strong leadership skills first cultivated during her days at McAuley.  She regularly presents trainings, speeches and workshops on Collaborative Practice and personal growth throughout the state. 

Recognizing the importance of giving back, Teri serves as a mentor to McAuley alumnae who are looking to practice law in a more holistic manner, and participates in the McAuley Law Society.  Reaching current students, she presented to the Catherine McAuley Honors Scholars on the importance of faith in one’s professional life, something she lives by daily.  She stays in touch with classmates, having served on the 10-year Reunion Committee, organized the 30-year Reunion Committee for the class of 1980 and returned to the stage at the Tribute to Sr. Ellen Marie.

Nancy Jean Coleman Mulcahy ‘64

Nancy Jean Coleman Mulcahy’s strong work ethic and passion to help others were first cultivated during her time as a McAuley student. While raising her four children, Nancy took classes, one at a time, at Daley College to pursue a degree in history. Showing great dedication and perseverance Nancy, after 16 years of schooling, graduated with honors and became a school clerk for the Chicago Board of Education, working at various schools.  Her career spanned nearly 25 years.  With a willingness to lead, she served as the union representative for the Chicago Board of Education School Clerks.

Nancy’s desire to help others didn’t stop outside of her professional life.  In 1999, along with her sister Carol Moriarty and close friend and fellow McAuley alumna, Lisa O’Brien Garmes ‘69, Nancy started the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk. 

Says her nominator:

“What began with just 25-30 young women walking throughout the neighborhood has blossomed into an enormous event attended by 14,000 people from all over Chicagoland.  All of the proceeds go to benefit the Little Company of Mary Hospital Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, which has state-of-the-art technology available to help treat patients. To recognize Nancy for her service, the Little Company of Mary awarded her with the Humanitarian Award in 2007.”

Nancy’s presence at Mother McAuley is still strong today.  She sent her three daughters to Mother McAuley to receive the same Catholic education that helped shape her values and ideals, and today she has granddaughters enrolled at the school

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