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Sisters reflect on leadership

A successful, confident leader can possess many different skill sets that shape their ability to lead. School Sisters of Notre Dame are leaders in many different ministries. Read four sisters’ reflections on what they believe make a courageous, compassionate leader.

Sister Julie Brandt celebrated her graduation on June 8, 2021 with the sisters at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato, Minnesota. This photo is for the #GivingTuesday campaign on November 30, 2021.

Sister Julie Brandt currently serves as the director of schools for the Joplin Area Catholic School system. While serving in this role, and previously as the associate superintendent of schools for the Jefferson City Diocese, Sister Julie earned her doctorate in Catholic educational leadership. She began her School Sisters of Notre Dame teaching career in 1987, teaching elementary students at St. Mary’s School in Worthington, MN. She later served as principal at St. Bernard Mission School in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Throughout the years, Sister Julie has served in education as well as in SSND community service. When asked what makes a courageous and compassionate leader, she had this to say:

"I believe that courage and compassion are both manifestations of love."


The Ministry Commission visit Notre Dame of Dallas school, this is a board of SSND charism at the school.

Sister Gloria Cain currently works in Dallas serving as a sister donor representative for the Resource Development Office of the Central Pacific Province. Her previous leadership roles include being the first superintendent for the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she served in that capacity for 11 years. She went to Texas in 1996, serving as the first superintendent for the Diocese of Victoria and then in 2008, as superintendent for the Diocese of Dallas. After retiring as superintendent, and at the request of the bishop, she served for one year as the bishop’s delegate for mission effectiveness for the Diocese of Dallas. When asked what makes a courageous, compassionate leader, Sister Gloria answered:

"Leadership is integral to me as a School Sister of Notre Dame! I believe that all persons are called to be leaders—that is, influencing others for the greater good."


Sister Barbara Pfarr is with Blanca Cano, an SSND associate, participating in a rally to support immigrant rights and essential workers through SOPHIA

Sister Barbara Pfarr’s passions are in social justice and advocacy. She entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) community as a social worker and was assigned as “Community Outreach Minister” in a Milwaukee city parish. However, she soon realized that food baskets and confronting bad landlords were not going to make the changes that were necessary for her neighborhood. She got involved in broad-based, direct-action community organizing. Throughout her years as a SSND, she has organized, advocated and mobilized through a variety of organizations. She founded and was the lead organizer of Communities United to Reach Equality (CURE) in Immokalee, Florida. She was an organizer with Interfaith Worker Justice, Chicago; Stewards of Prophetic Hopeful International Action (SOPHIA), Waukesha, Wisconsin; and WISDOM in Milwaukee. Sister Barbara shares what she believes a compassionate, courageous leader is to her:

"A strong leader engages deeply with others."


Sister Carol Jean Dust is a member of the SSND Vocations team. She attended a vocation event at St. Louis University in St. Louis in October 2019. This photo is for the #GivingTuesday campaign on November 30, 2021.

Sister Carol Jean Dust currently serves as chairperson of the SSND Central Pacific Province Ministry Commission and is a member of the SSND North American Vocation Team (NAVT). With almost 50 years since her first profession as a SSND, Sister Carol Jean has served in many school settings as a teacher, department chair, assistant principal and coordinator of religious education. She has also served internationally in Honduras as an administrator of Instituto Notre Dame and youth retreat director, on the board of directors for solidarity with South Sudan and in Rome as a general councilor for SSND. Sister Carol Jean strongly feels that courageous, compassionate leadership is derived from Jesus’ examples:

"A courageous leader knows that love often means taking new steps, trusting the grace of the Spirit within, and challenging others to a new way of acting, thinking, and serving, while reverencing the bond of unity."



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