Photo of Kathy Schneider


“Because you care about people, you start doing stuff.”

In reflecting on her early years, Kathy Schneider observed that “we were receivers of other people’s kindness.” She explained, “I came from a background where, when I was in fourth grade I decided that because money was an issue in my family I was never going to ask my parents for a penny.” With that decision, Kathy set a course of self-direction and motivation that not only continues to guide her but also serves as a foundation of inspiration for other women.

After deciding she wanted to attend college in the Midwest, Kathy was admitted to one of the first classes of women at the University of Notre Dame at a time when “there were some men who had applied to an all men’s school and felt they had a right to attack women verbally and in a lot of different ways.” While at Notre Dame, Kathy decided that she wanted to work with disenfranchised groups, “I didn’t want to teach about social justice; I wanted to do it.” From Notre Dame Kathy traveled and worked with the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Washington, DC, Texas, and Brazil. These experiences helped “inform the way I live my life and do my work today.”

Upon returning to South Bend, Kathy first taught at Saint Mary’s College before taking the helm at Saint Margaret’s House as a way to “work with empowerment” of women. Kathy came to Saint Margaret’s when it was still a new and developing program, and under Kathy’s leadership it has grown into an extension of “the table ministry of Jesus” in which “you don’t do for people, but you take people at their starting point.”  Kathy strives to provide the women of Saint Margaret’s House with equal access and equality because “when you limit anybody’s potential for any reason, you limit their contribution to the community.”

To describe her experiences, Kathy observed, “I always considered Saint Margaret’s House my life’s work, and it’s a great joy to me.”

  • Advisory Council Member, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Governance Council Member, St. Joseph County Community Access Network
  • Founding Board Member, St. Joseph County Bridges Out of Poverty
  • Founding Board Member, Stone Soup Community
  • Honorary Canon of The Cathedral of St. James

Information compiled from oral history collected by The Michiana Women Leaders Project

Kathy was honored at Celebrating Michiana Women Leaders 2016.