Notre Dame College Sisters of Notre Dame Featured in National Education Summit

Notre Dame College will spotlight some of its own Sisters of Notre Dame in hosting the 2018 Sisters’ National Education Summit.

Six Sisters with close connections to the College will headline the symposium with other nationally recognized presenters, imparting their knowledge, experience and charism for transformative education and leadership to more than 150 lay educators, scholars and ministers from across the U.S. expected to attend the professional conference Wednesday, June 20, through Friday, June 22, on the Notre Dame campus.

Four of the Sisters leading aspects of the conference are alumnae. Three, one of whom is a graduate, have experience as faculty members at the College. Two of the six Sisters presenting, both who are alumnae, also have service with the College’s Board of Trustees.

Symposium highlights from Sisters affiliated with the College and Chardon, Ohio, province include: a keynote address from Sr. Melannie Svoboda, SND, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1967 and has served as a faculty member in English at the College; education sessions featuring Sr. Margaret Gorman, SND, a 1971 graduate of Notre Dame, who is a College trustee and provincial superior for Chardon, and Sr. Regina Alfonso, SND, associate professor emerita of education at the College; and leadership seminars with Sr. Jacquelyn Gusdane, SND, a 1964 graduate of Notre Dame, who is a former College trustee, and Sr. Joanne Keppler, SND, who also is a Notre Dame alumna from the class of 1967.

In addition, Sr. Carol Ziegler, SND, Ph.D., chief mission officer and executive director of the Abrahamic Center at Notre Dame, will be part of an interfaith panel discussion. Ziegler also has taught courses at the College.

In addition, a seventh Sister of Notre Dame affiliated with the College—and the fifth alumnae—Sr. Mary Frances Taymans, SND, who is a 1967 graduate of Notre Dame and a member of the College's Board of Trustees, serves as director of the Sisters of Notre Dame National Education Office, which conducts the summit.

The theme of the summit is "Mirrors and Windows," looking back at the Sisters of Notre Dame ancestry and values and looking forward to possibilities in which their legacy of teaching and training is never-ending. The three-day conference will feature multiple keynote speakers, nearly 30 options for breakout seminars and opportunities for spiritual reflection with Sisters of Notre Dame and their collaborators from across the country.

Keynote Address

From the Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon, Svoboda, NDC ’67, who is a nationally known speaker, author and retreat director, will provide one of four keynote addresses at the summit. She will present “Through the Looking Glass” on Thursday, June 21, at 9 a.m. in the Performing Arts Center of the Administration Building on the College campus. Svoboda is previous provincial superior in Chardon, past novice director in Detroit and a former high school and college educator, including at Notre Dame. She is the author of 13 books and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including America, Catholic Digest, National Catholic Reporter and Country Woman.

Catholic Education

Gorman, NDC ’71, will present "Who Is Bernard Overberg and Why Does He Matter?," in the fifth breakout series on Friday, June 22, from 10:10-11:10 a.m. in the College Administration Building. In this presentation Gorman will impart concepts of Overberg's philosophy for joining faith and spirituality with an appreciation for the talents of individuals to allow students to grow and develop in the classroom and beyond. The Sisters of Notre Dame, who primarily minister through education, advocate Overberg’s desire to have youth excited about learning and actively involved in their own growth. According to Gorman, the early Sisters as advocates of Overberg’s theories also appreciated the need for students to understand the world and how to live responsibly in it.

In another option during the fifth breakout series on Friday, June 22, from 10:10-11:10 a.m., also in the Administration Building, Alfonso will offer “‘Go Teach!’ And Jesus Showed Us How.” In this presentation, Alfonso will utilize lecture, small group interaction and personal reflection to analyze the 2000-year-old teaching methods Jesus used throughout his public life and apply them to modern-day education. Alfonso is author of a book that shares its title with the name of this session and works as a tutor for the Sisters of Notre Dame Legacy Project in adult literacy.

Reflective Leadership

Gusdane, NDC ’64, who is past president of Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School, will co-facilitate a seminar on “Transformation Begins with the Leader: Nurturing Reflective Living” with Tony Guevara, head of La Reina High School and Middle School, a Sisters of Notre Dame-sponsored institution in the Los Angeles area. During this offering in the fourth breakout series on Friday, June 22, from 9-10 a.m. in the Administration Building, participants will learn through experiences, storytelling and faith-sharing to better respond to the demands and responsibilities of leadership. Gusdane and Guevara will help train trainers to discover how wisdom, discernment and compassion are rooted in openness to their own inner transformation.

Keppler, NDC ’67, director of professional learning for Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School, will co-lead breakout session on “Integrated Approaches to Faculty Professional Development” with Jack VonHandorf, principal of Notre Dame Academy in Cincinnati. This interactive session, also during the fifth breakout series on Friday, June 22, from 10:10-11:10 a.m. in the Administration Building, will impart techniques to improve teacher learning that improves instruction and advances organization-wide as well as educator specific goals. The presentation also addresses teaching the iY and alpha generations of students.

Interfaith Relations

Ziegler will be featured in a panel discussion, "Interfaith Relations: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives," in the second breakout series from 1:55-3:25 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, also in the Administration Building on the Notre Dame campus. All the panelists will discuss the similarities and differences in naming God and in social justice and care for the poor in each of the faith traditions. Interactive elements will be included to promote teamwork in education, employment and other environments and build awareness of how understanding diverse individuals is critical to building God’s kingdom. I think most if not all of these folks have participated in interfaith events on campus in the last two or three years, which might be relevant.

Along with Ziegler, the presenters include:

  • Susan B. Stone, rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, Ohio, who is director of spiritual care at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio
  • Murat Gurer, member of the board of directors for International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network, a collaborative of international organizations embracing more than 120 cultural, ethnic, and nationality groups in Northeast Ohio
  • Uma S. Krishnan, Ph.D., an instructor in the English department at Kent State University, whose research involves different cultural studies of literacy and business in relation to India
  • Shih Ying-Fa, the founder of CloudWater Zendo, the Zen Center of Cleveland who is also past president of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple, past coordinator of the Northeast Ohio Buddhist Council and is engaged in various interfaith activities

Additional Expertise

Another Cleveland-area Sister of Notre Dame leading information sessions during the summit is Sr. Katherine Feely, director of John Carroll University's Center for Service and Social Action.

Featured in breakouts from the Sisters of Notre Dame Toledo, Ohio, province are: Sr. Colleen Marie Cousino, science and IT faculty at Bowling Green State University; Sr. Suzette Fisher, co-founder and director of client services of Double ARC, an organization supporting those affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, in Sylvania, Ohio; and Sr. Marcia Kiser, a dyslexia specialist.

In addition to the Chardon and Toledo communities in Ohio, the Sisters of Notre Dame originally from Coesfeld, Germany, also have U.S. provinces in Covington, Ky., and Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Additional information about the 2018 Sisters of Notre Dame National Education Summit is available on the College website and on the Sisters of Notre Dame Education Office website.

May 2018
Kimberly Krozser '17 contributed to this article


About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or


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