We Are ND https://weare.nd.edu en Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:55:00 -0400 Born Without Three Limbs, Speaker and Author Inspires Others He shares his story and challenges people to make a difference Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:55:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/born-without-three-limbs-speaker-and-author-inspires-others/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/born-without-three-limbs-speaker-and-author-inspires-others/ <p><strong>Alex Montoya ’96</strong> was born without arms or a right leg, but he doesn’t spend a lot of time lamenting what he doesn’t have. Instead, he focuses on what he does have: three prosthetic limbs that help him live a mobile, independent life, and a platform to help others by sharing his story.</p> <p>“My whole belief and my whole purpose is to show people not to take for granted the life that we have. Most people that I encounter have two arms and two legs, and I honestly think that we get so caught up in our deadlines, responsibilities, issues, and challenges that we sometimes don’t stop to think that not all of us have that: two functioning arms and legs,” Montoya says. “Me being in the position of wearing three prosthetics, I look at people who are in wheelchairs and need help getting out of bed in the morning and think about how good I have it. We need to pause and thank God for the little things, things that we probably don’t give a second thought to every day.”</p> <p>Montoya was born in Colombia, his disabilities a side effect of the drug thalidomide, which was used to treat nausea in pregnant women before it was found to cause birth defects. He came to the United States at age 4 to receive prosthetics at the Shriners Hospital for Children in San Francisco and Los Angeles, staying with his aunt and uncle. Later, he went on to attend Notre Dame, earn a master’s degree at the University of San Francisco, and work on the corporate side of Major League Baseball for a decade. Today, he is a sought-after motivational speaker and author, and has shared his story nationwide, speaking at the likes of Google, NASA, and Harvard, focusing on overcoming adversity and living an inspired life.</p> <p>Montoya, who worked for his hometown baseball team, the San Diego Padres, had always done public and motivational speaking as a side gig, but decided to pursue it full time in 2015. He says he saw it as his way to do something positive for the world.</p> <p>“I felt like it was what I was called to do,” he says. “I had been doing enough on the side as a passion project that I decided I wanted to try it full time, partially because I wanted to get better at it by devoting more time to it, and because I saw that’s what the world needed. We live in a very divisive world right now, and I felt like the world needed a little inspiration to remind people of what their true purpose and calling is. I have my physical adversity and disability, and those are my challenges that I live with daily, but everyone I know has something they are carrying with them—whether it is physical, mental, emotional, financial, you name it—everybody has something that is challenging, and I wanted to break through that and take a stab at making the world a better place.”</p> <p>So <a href="http://a-motivational.com/">A-MOtivational Communications </a>was born, offering motivational literature and presentations and coaching on writing and public speaking. Monotoya’s clients include schools (from the university level all the way down to kindergarten classes), corporate groups, nonprofit organizations, and churches.</p> <p>All of his talks include a component of disability awareness: showing how his prosthetics work and how they help him in his daily life. He uses two prosthetic arms that connect to his shoulder and have an elbow joint, with hooks on the end that have a grasping mechanism. His right leg is a prosthetic that fits onto his thigh, with a hinge knee joint. It took about three years of physical therapy to learn how to use each of these limbs most effectively, but he says that he reached a point where the prosthetics became a part of him. For instance, he uses his left prosthetic to take the back end of a pen and type utilizing a hunt-and-peck style. Montoya says that while some people look at his three prosthetic limbs and feel pity, for him, the prosthetics represent freedom.</p> <p>“If I don’t have them, I can’t get around. I couldn’t have gone to Notre Dame or carried the Olympic Torch in ’96” he says. “I can’t write books or give speeches without them. My work shows other people that they have the same opportunity in their lives to be liberated—they just have to think the right way.”</p> <p>For Montoya, thinking the right way means not letting challenges or supposed limitations hold you back. He tailors each of his speeches to the unique audience, but that is the overarching theme of everything he does, whether it is encouraging nonprofit employees in fundraising or motivating salespeople to make more sales.</p> <p>Fittingly, his most recent—and fifth—book is called <em>Living Inspired</em>. He says it is his call for people to focus on the things in life that inspire them and use that to live life in a way that inspires others. His own inspiration for the book is his late father, Hernan, who filled their house with music every day. The music inspired Hernan and enabled him to live life with a reputation for being “gregarious and jovial,” according to his son. Montoya hopes his book can show others the key to living a joyful, inspired life, no matter the challenges people confront.</p> <p>“At the end of my life, God’s not going to look at me and say, ‘You’re the one who was born without this or that.’ He’s going to ask, ‘What did you do with the things I gave you?’” he says. “I want to challenge people to figure out how they can make the most of what they have, be inspired by that, and hopefully inspire other people.”<br>  </p> Warm Clothing For Children Wards Off Winter Former newspaper publisher started program to help young people Mon, 03 Dec 2018 11:25:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/warm-clothing-for-children-wards-off-winter/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/warm-clothing-for-children-wards-off-winter/ <p>Late one night, as he struggled to fall asleep, <strong>Mack Stewart ’55 </strong>wondered what he was going to do with the rest of his life.</p> <p>He had just been let go from his job managing <em>The Middletown Press</em> after failing to reverse the Connecticut paper’s economic woes. But as he pondered his future, he realized something: he didn’t really need a paycheck. After all, his home, and his children’s education were both paid for, and he was in his early 60s. His own financial needs, he realized, were fairly modest.</p> <p>That’s when Stewart’s mind turned to <a href="https://warmthechildren.org/">Warm the Children</a>, a nonprofit he’d started several years earlier to help buy winter clothing for young people in need, and he decided to devote the rest of his life to it.</p> <p>“I thought, this program does a great deal of good for a lot of people who need help in the communities I’ve served,” Stewart recalls. “Maybe I can interest other newspaper publishers in embracing the program.”</p> <p>That decision has enabled Warm the Children to expand and grow. Its almost 30 programs now raise $1 million each year, providing some 13,000 children with winter clothing and footwear. Each program’s money stays in the local community, and every dollar donated goes to buy clothing—something Stewart insists on anytime he helps launch a new program.</p> <p>In many communities, a local newspaper runs the initiative, partnering with a civic group or charitable organization. In others, groups like Kiwanis or Rotary have taken over. But the goal is the same: to make sure children have the clothing they need to weather the winter months.</p> <p>That’s the idea that led Stewart to start Warm the Children 30 years ago. At the time, he was working as a newspaper publisher in Torrington, Connecticut.</p> <p>“I was driving to work one November, and I think it was the first snowfall of the year,” Stewart recalls. “I saw children waiting for the school bus, and they just didn’t have good winter clothing on at all. When I got to work that morning, I talked to one of my associates about how it’s really a shame that in a community like that, in the richest state in the country, we had children who couldn’t go to school with proper clothing.”</p> <p>Stewart knew his newspaper could use its platform to publicize the need. The previous paper where he’d worked had had an initiative aimed at clothing children, and he realized he could build something similar in Torrington. And it worked—in the first year, the program raised $20,000.</p> <p>“The community really responded,” Stewart says. “ It was really heartwarming.”</p> <p>As Warm the Children has grown to include new programs in multiple states, Stewart has kept a simple recipe to ensure success. Newspapers publicize the need for donations and partner with a local nonprofit to ensure donations are tax-deductive. Schools and social service organizations identify families in need, and people in the community donate as they can. A total of about 2,000 volunteer shoppers (including Stewart and his wife, Natalie) meet families at local stores to buy clothing, and the stores bill Warm the Children.</p> <p>These volunteer-run efforts serve a variety of people in need, Stewart says. Some are single parents trying to make ends meet. Others are scraping by on low-wage retail jobs. And still others are recent immigrants who are rebuilding their lives. On Stewart’s most recent shopping trip, he assisted a family who came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo as they picked out clothing for their three children.</p> <p>Now, three decades after he made that fateful late-night decision to dedicate himself to Warm the Children, Stewart continues to find his work deeply fulfilling.</p> <p>“When the people who run a program tell me about their experiences serving children, and how it’s absolutely the best thing that ever happened to the community, that warms my heart, that’s my paycheck,” he says. “But it isn’t any bigger than the smile on the faces of a mother and her child when I take them shopping and that child has never had a new coat or a new pair of boots in their life. We get through and they say ‘thank you’ and give me a big hug. That feels good.</p> <p>“That’s my own personal experience. But I know that it is happening in a lot of different places to a lot of different people every day. And that is very rewarding.”</p> <p><br>  </p> Health Care Worker Helps Save the Lives of Women and Children Using data and training, he works to make health care more accessible Mon, 26 Nov 2018 13:30:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/health-care-worker-helps-save-the-lives-of-women-and-children/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/health-care-worker-helps-save-the-lives-of-women-and-children/ <p><strong>Rob Callus ’15</strong> spends a lot of time tinkering with Excel documents, organizing health care data from Kisii County, a rural area in western Kenya.</p> <p>“There is this idea that no one wants to be punching numbers into an Excel document or writing reports all day, because it can be a bit tedious. But for me, the numbers are representing people,” Callus says. “They are mothers and children—people’s lives and their well-being.”</p> <p>Callus works in those Excel documents as a program fellow with <a href="https://www.curamericas.org/">Curamericas Global</a>, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based nonprofit that creates sustainable health care programs for underserved women and children worldwide. He earned the fellow role after starting out as an unpaid intern in January 2018, fresh off two years of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Tanzania.</p> <p>JVC was the second time that Callus had worked in Africa. He participated in Notre Dame’s International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP), at an HIV clinic in Uganda run by the Sisters of Holy Cross, and says that was when he knew he wanted to work in global health and international development.</p> <p>“I was looking for ways to engage my passion for medicine and health care, but not necessarily on the doctor track,” Callus says.</p> <p>Curamericas’ work was a natural fit for these interests, and Callus’ two experiences in Africa made him an ideal choice for the organization’s first program fellow. Callus came on board to help with their project in Kenya: a new Community Birthing Center and increased rural health care access in Kisii County, where Curamericas found that the maternal mortality rate is 60 times worse than it is in the United States. Of every 100,000 births, 1,500 of those mothers die in childbirth. Curamericas is working with Kenya’s Ministry of Health on this project, and they have already set up health committees in 22 villages in Kisii County, which has a population of about 12,500.</p> <p>Callus is currently immersed in the data analysis phase, organizing the information that Curamericas’ Kenyan employees and the health committees collected about the health of their own communities. Curamericas has already successfully created a similar program in Guatemala, but aims to tailor this one to the unique needs of Kisii County.</p> <p>But it’s not all spreadsheets, graphs, and data. Callus went to Kenya for a month-long site visit in the fall, where he participated in meetings at the county’s health center building with clan elders from the villages, traditional community midwives, and community health volunteers.</p> <p>“Being in the field is where my heart is, and where I feel most alive,” says Callus, who learned Swahili while he was working in Tanzania. “During the meetings, I got to flex my old Swahili muscles and translate for my colleague. It was a really special moment, being able to communicate with people in their own language and connect with them where they were.”</p> <p>Connection and partnership is a priority for Curamericas, because the organization wants to create sustainable projects where the local community will eventually take full ownership.</p> <p>“We want to encourage ownership of their health. This isn’t something you have to wait for the Ministry of Health to do—you can educate yourself on health topics,” Callus says. “Being able to share data about their health demographics was really empowering, because when they have that knowledge, they have the ability to identify how they feel about it. And then it might motivate them to do something.”</p> <p>And it already has. While Callus was in Kenya, he helped train approximately 30 members of the community in holistic maternal and child health. With more knowledge about pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, the overall health of mothers and children will improve, despite the county’s limited access to hospitals and trained health care providers.</p> <p>For Callus, this is where his employer’s mission dovetails with his own personal drive.</p> <p>“One of my passions within science and health care is making it more accessible,” he says. “We write off a lot of things in health care as something that only doctors or professionals know, but we should all be able to understand our health and take it into our own hands.”<br>  </p> Former ND Basketball Player Uses Sports to Help People with Special Needs Undergraduate service experience helped pave the way for his volunteer work Mon, 19 Nov 2018 08:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/former-nd-basketball-player-uses-sports-to-help-people-with-special-needs/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/former-nd-basketball-player-uses-sports-to-help-people-with-special-needs/ <p>As a volunteer coach and mentor in sports and recreation activities for adults with special needs, <strong>Bruce Flowers ’79</strong> has found a way to give back through sports after a successful athletic career of his own.</p> <p>In his work with the <a href="https://www.nedsra.org/en/">Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association</a> (NEDSRA), a Chicago-area non-profit that aims to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities by providing them with recreational and social programs, Flowers encounters friendship and joy each day.</p> <p>He traces his interest in this work back to his undergraduate days at Notre Dame when he volunteered at Logan Center, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can achieve their desired quality of life. It was his first exposure to working with people with developmental disabilities in sports, a passion that would become central to his life in the years to come.</p> <p>“I was volunteering in their swimming program,” Flowers says. “I found it very fulfilling at that time. I worked with a young kid who didn’t speak, so they began swimming therapy in hopes that if they got him moving around and having fun, he would come out of his shell. I would jump in the water, and he’d jump in behind me and chase me all while laughing and smiling. I remember one day when he was chasing me he yelled ‘Mama!’ I thought it was a breakthrough, so I told his therapist. She said it was, because he had verbalized something. I really enjoyed being around him and giving him my time. I was helping him by really just being a friend.”</p> <p><strong>A Passion for Hoops</strong></p> <p>Flowers’ experience at Notre Dame also further strengthened his interest in basketball—a passion since childhood.</p> <p>“Sports was huge for me growing up,” Flowers says. “Our outdoor basketball court attracted college players in the summertime. It really helped me to become a very competitive basketball player because the winner stayed on the court and the loser had to go to the back of the line—and sometimes those lines got to be pretty big. It molded my competitive nature to try to stay on the basketball court and win.”</p> <p>That competitive drive helped him succeed at Notre Dame, where he played basketball for Digger Phelps’ squad as a freshman. The team was on the rise, coming off its stunning 1974 upset of UCLA. </p> <p>“I just felt fortunate to be able to play at Notre Dame because we got a lot of exposure,” Flowers says. “The competition and playing at a high level was key in my career and really made me a better basketball player.”</p> <p>After graduating from Notre Dame, playing professional basketball in Italy for several seasons, and playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers for one year, Flowers retired from the sport at age 30 and settled into a marketing career with Keebler Company. Although he stepped back from playing, basketball remained a part of Flowers’ life as he coached for his son’s AAU team.</p> <p><strong>A New Calling</strong></p> <p>“Sports kind of took a back seat at that point,” Flowers says. “I was more worried about becoming a good product manager at Keebler. My youngest son, Peter, got into basketball when he was in sixth grade. I started coaching him, and that was a lot of fun because the competitive juices came back, we were a pretty good team, and as a coach, winning was just as exciting as playing.”</p> <p>When his son went to high school, Flowers found himself with extra free time and began calling around to various organizations, looking to keep coaching. He landed at NEDSRA and began as an assistant basketball coach, quickly becoming invested in the organization’s mission and offering his skills to a number of different programs.</p> <p>“It was completely different than anything else I’d ever experienced before,” he says. “Coaching with special needs adults is really being a cheerleader, a friend, and a positive role model. I started in 2003, and by 2008 I was coaching golf, weight lifting, and volleyball. Each season was doing something a little different. I got my license to drive the vans, so I’m the van driver now for NEDSRA.”</p> <p>Flowers says the best part of his position with NEDSRA is being around the people.</p> <p>“The special needs adults live in the present,” he says. “Sometimes I forget to live in the present. When I’m around them whether it’s in a van, at a sporting event, or in a program, they’re always living the way God meant us to live—moment by moment and day by day. There’s very few worries with this population, and I admire that. They’re in this very loving, fun, positive environment, and it’s just a great experience to be a part of that.”</p> Veteran And Wife Make a Difference Through Fostering, Adoption Couple thrives on raising a large blended family Mon, 12 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/veteran-and-wife-make-a-difference-through-fostering-adoption/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/veteran-and-wife-make-a-difference-through-fostering-adoption/ <p><strong>Judge Joseph L. Falvey Jr., ’81, ’87 J.D.</strong> has led a tank platoon, ensuring young Marines are prepared for deployment.</p> <p>He has had a long and distinguished legal career in the military that culminated earlier this year with his confirmation as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, a post that enables him to ensure veterans receive the benefits they have earned.</p> <p>But his biggest impact has been in his family life. Falvey and his wife, Anne M. (Day) Falvey, SMC ’84, have served as foster parents for fifteen children, five of whom they have adopted, raising them along with four biological children in a blended family that spans more than two decades. The Falveys’ oldest is 31, and their youngest is eight.</p> <p>“I think it keeps you young,” Falvey says. “I’m still going to dance recitals and sports practices. Because I love it, it’s not a great sacrifice. People ask, ‘what’s your hobby?’ and I say, ‘it’s my kids.’”</p> <p><strong>Meeting a Need</strong></p> <p>Falvey credits his wife with the initial idea to serve as foster parents. He met her when mutual friends were married at Notre Dame.</p> <p>“The night of the wedding reception, we sat next to each other, and during the conversation she told me that she wanted to have an orphanage,” he recalls. “And I thought it was just a bluff, a good line she might use with a guy who showed some interest in family life, but as I’ve learned, she wasn’t bluffing.”</p> <p>As a teacher, he says, she saw children come to school showing signs of neglect, and she wanted to help. The couple married in 1986 and moved to California a year later when Falvey was assigned to Camp Pendleton to handle prosecution and defense roles in court-martial cases. Shortly after that, they applied to be foster parents.</p> <p>“She saw there was a great need out there, and I think that was what her original draw was,” Falvey says. “I just cooperated, I just agreed to it. This was her. She’s really a saint.”</p> <p>Later moves took the Falveys to Virginia in 1990, and to the Detroit area in 1994. Both times, they once again became foster parents, navigating a new state’s training and licensing requirements.</p> <p>“When we started, it was not with a view toward adopting kids,” Falvey says. “We just thought there was a need out there for safe harbors for kids while their situations got sorted out. But over time, some of the children’s parents’ rights were terminated and social services would turn to us as the first alternative to place the child.”</p> <p>Falvey says being part of a large blended family has profoundly shaped parents and children alike.</p> <p>“As our kids aged, the older kids would help us out more and more,” he says. “And I think with all of them, having foster kids produced really empathetic, caring adults who really have a great love for service to others. So it’s been a great benefit. And I think, too, it made us all less self-centered. In a lot of ways you learn to live with and thrive in a little bit of chaos.”</p> <p>And while some of his peers may look forward to being empty nesters, Falvey looks forward to many more years of parenting. He no longer stresses about things like messy bedrooms and children’s grades at school.</p> <p>“I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything,” he says. “I feel like instead I get to keep enjoying all the joys of parenthood while hopefully getting better as a parent as I go along.”</p> <p><strong>A Family Tradition of Service</strong></p> <p>Falvey’s family has a long military history, a tradition that influenced his decision to serve. One hundred years ago, his grandfather deployed to France during World War I. His father, who had hoped to attend Notre Dame, enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and went to serve more than 30 years in the Air Force before taking his final job as head of the University’s Air Force ROTC.</p> <p>But the family connections don’t end there. Falvey had two older brothers who served in the Navy and the Air Force. His two oldest sons went through Marine Corps ROTC at Notre Dame, and a daughter graduated from the Air Force Academy and is now an officer. In addition, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law are both Marine Corps veterans.</p> <p>“Military service runs in the family, runs very deeply within us,” says Falvey, who finished active duty in 1994 and retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 2011 as a colonel. “That’s why the opportunity to be on the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was a great opportunity. It allows me to practice the law at the peak of my profession as a judge, but in a court that is devoted to those Americans who have sacrificed greatly for our freedoms and our country.”</p> <p>The court reviews benefits claims—primarily disability claims—that have been denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal, Falvey says, is to review the department’s decisions as an independent judicial body, ensuring that claims have been handled properly.</p> <p>Falvey, who was sworn in as a judge on the court in May, has a fifteen-year appointment. For him, it is a fulfilling end to a long legal career in the military.</p> <p>“I’m both honored and humbled to serve in this capacity,” he says. “To practice in this particular court with this particular calling is just a tremendously rewarding opportunity for me.”</p> Architect Designs Healthy Neighborhoods for Everyone He helps create vibrant communities that enrich the lives of people who live in them Mon, 05 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/architect-designs-healthy-neighborhoods-for-everyone/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/architect-designs-healthy-neighborhoods-for-everyone/ <p>Whether he’s designing dwellings for a scenic oceanside town in Costa Rica or partnering with developers to revamp an economically depressed neighborhood in Panama City, architect <strong>Ricardo Arosemena ’98, ’05 M.Arch.</strong> helps create vibrant communities that enrich the lives of people who live in them. </p> <p>Arosemena, a Panama native, started an architectural firm with his wife, <strong>Marie Andreé Soundy ’98, ’05 M.Arch.</strong>, more than a decade ago, before she began to pursue an art career. He continues to work on developments that are ecologically sustainable and accessible to people from various income levels.</p> <p>“I started searching for those opportunities—working with communities and trying to create real, sustainable, and healthy neighborhoods,” he says. “I’ve been lucky to do a large range of work.”</p> <p>Some of that work is in the historic Panama City neighborhood of Santa Ana, which has been plagued by poverty and gang violence that have pushed residents away. A nearby neighborhood, Casco Viejo, had suffered a similar fate before UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in the late 1990s, paving the way for investment and redevelopment.</p> <p>“We’re trying to bring people back,” Arosemena says. “Santa Ana is a place that has been losing thousands and thousands of residents for many, many years. You have entire city blocks where buildings have been burned down, and they’re empty. So we are working with very visionary developers, trying to develop areas that are now empty and not being used, and doing it in a way where hopefully instead of pushing people out, we will bring people in, including both minimum wage workers and middle class people.”</p> <p>A sustainable redevelopment, Arosemena says, means taking advantage of parks, plazas, and walkable streets, and bringing in businesses that can serve residents from all walks of life.</p> <p>“We want to bring back that richness of urban life, and we want to do that in the most sensible way without displacing people,” he says. “That’s definitely where a lot of our passion is. We live next to the people we’re working for and working with.”</p> <p>For more than a decade, Arosemena has also worked on Las Catalinas, a small town in Costa Rica. The idea there has been to create an ecologically sustainable community that allows people to enjoy the beauty of the coast. Las Catalinas is highly walkable, and cars are off limits in much of the town, which is a work in progress.</p> <p>“The idea is to have a lifestyle that is very healthy and very much in touch with the ocean and with nature,” he says, “combining the best of healthy living and quality of life with sustainable practices.”</p> <p>Arosemena has been involved since the project’s 2007 kickoff, which brought together investors, business owners, and potential residents as well as designers, architects, and experts in infrastructure and landscaping. The project has allowed him to work with Douglas Duany, an associate professor of architecture at Notre Dame, who has helped lead the planning efforts.</p> <p>Arosemena is working with developers to build homes in phases, and the plan is to keep the town small and avoid sprawl. Within the next two or three decades, he says, Las Catalinas should have between 1,200 and 1,300 homes. And while early development has necessarily focused on higher-income residents, he says, over time, as it becomes financially feasible, planners hope to attract people from a range of incomes.</p> <p>Arosemena sees his work as an opportunity to collaborate with progressive-minded people who are looking to improve their communities.</p> <p>“Architecture for me has gone from being more something I do at my desk to something I do outside, on the street, with people,” he says. “It’s about making places, not making buildings. As time goes by, I realize that what I thought would be a life of sitting at a drafting desk and designing objects has really become more a life of sharing and exchanging and negotiating and finding consensus and all these things that you do to create complex things.”</p> <p>He feels fortunate to have an outlet where he can make a difference, drawing on the classical architectural training he received at Notre Dame, which emphasizes the tradition of building livable, people-friendly communities that respect local people, climates, and cultures.</p> <p>“I hope that in the end we will be able to contribute to the continuation of cities,” he says. “It’s one thing that the Notre Dame School of Architecture highly stressed—that we are one part of a chain, we are not just spots in time, but we are part of something much, much larger. That is something that’s very humbling in a good way, and it’s also inspiring.</p> <p>“One of the things that you take out of your Notre Dame education is the idea that we have a responsibility to serve. I’m very fortunate to be able to integrate that with how I make a living, and for that I’m grateful.”</p> Bringing Hope to Prisons Deacon leads ministry team that serves inmates Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/bringing-hope-to-prisons/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/bringing-hope-to-prisons/ <p><em>(Photo by Zoey Maraist / The Arlington Catholic Herald</em>;<em> design by Matt Fletcher)</em></p> <p>When <strong>Larry Hammel ’57</strong> started leading marriage retreats with his wife, Marianne, his entire concept of God changed.</p> <p>“God became real flesh and blood, rather than an intellectual concept of God ‘over there,’ who is above everything,” he says. “If you realize that marriage is a sacrament, if you want to love God, you have to love your spouse. If you love your spouse, you are loving God.”</p> <p>It was a pivotal moment in Hammel’s faith life, a time during which he says he learned that loving others is an encounter with God. This realization led him on the path to ordination as a permanent deacon, and is central to the work he does today, ministering to inmates in prisons in northern Virginia.</p> <p>As he and Marianne continued to lead Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends for a decade, Hammel—a transportation planning engineer during the work week—felt called to demonstrate his love of God in a new way. He applied to become a deacon in 1981 and was ordained in 1984, serving in two parishes on his native Long Island for 16 years.</p> <p>When he and Marianne relocated to northern Virginia in 2000 to live closer to their four grown children and eight grandchildren, Hammel was assigned to a parish near the county jail, and had his first experience with ministering to prisoners.</p> <p>Now retired from engineering and devoted full-time to his service as a deacon, Hammel leads a team of 57 volunteers in prison ministry, sponsored by Catholic Charities. The group comes from 16 parishes across northern Virginia to the Loudoun Adult Detention Center in Leesburg, where they lead inmates in Scripture readings and discussion each Sunday. Hammel’s group rotates so that each Sunday is covered, and they aren’t usually all there at once. Of the nearly 500 inmates in the detention center, there are usually about 50 at the Sunday Scripture services.</p> <p>“We ask the men and women, ‘How are the Scriptures alive to you? If you’re struggling today, how do the Scriptures give you hope?’” says Hammel, who also offers the sacraments to Catholic inmates alongside a retired priest who is part of the group. “It’s not intellectual stuff, it’s heart stuff.”</p> <p>Down the road from the adult detention center is a juvenile detention center that the group visits on the third Saturday of each month. Hammel says that the group isn’t going into these detention centers to convert people to Catholicism, but rather to evangelize or re-evangelize the inmates.</p> <p>“You just listen to people, be present to them. Some have no visitors—they may not be from this area, but their offense was here, so it is where they are held,” he says. “The purpose is not to make Roman Catholics of the inmates. That’s up to the Holy Spirit.”</p> <p>In addition to the prison ministry,  Hammel also visits patients at the adult mental health unit at INOVA Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg. “You go in, you listen to people, and there’s brokenness there,” he says. “You don’t solve their problems, but they know that someone in ministry cares.” He is also assigned to a rural parish in the neighboring Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia.</p> <p>Being in solidarity with others in difficult times has been a theme of Hammel’s ministry since his early days as a deacon, when he served in the AIDS unit of a hospital in the 1990s, when there were still many unknowns and fears about the disease. For Hammel, the lay people that he volunteers with and the patients and prisoners they serve are the heart of today’s Catholic Church.</p> <p>“The prisoners remind us that all of us, like Mother Teresa said, are the body of Christ,” he says. “We are Christ’s presence in the world today, in spite of our being broken, in spite of our sinfulness.</p> <p>“My joy is to see these 57 people on the team be so immersed in prison ministry that it becomes part of their blood not just to continue prison ministry, but to proclaim the Gospel by the way that they live, whether it’s sharing with their families or in the community or at the office. Making Jesus not something intellectual, but something from the heart.”</p> Intelligence Chief Preps Presidents, Helps Protect the U.S. Alum sees national security career as a public service Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/intelligence-chief-preps-presidents-helps-protect-the-u-s/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/intelligence-chief-preps-presidents-helps-protect-the-u-s/ <p>In the more than two decades she’s spent working for the CIA, <strong>Amy McAuliffe ’90</strong> has navigated her fair share of demanding situations. </p> <p>But whether it’s rising in the middle of the night to help prepare the President’s Daily Brief, assessing threats from Al-Qaeda or Iran, or coaxing time-crunched policymakers to think strategically, McAuliffe, who now serves as chair of the National Intelligence Council, is up for the challenge.</p> <p>“You don’t quite know what any day is going to be,” she says. “I often have a list of 25 things that I’m going to do and I get none of them done, because all of a sudden we have a big tasking and we have to think about Iran in a way that we haven’t before, or something comes up on China. But it’s very interesting, because in any one day, I could be dealing with 10 really substantive issues.”</p> <p>McAuliffe has led the NIC since 2016. The council is perhaps best known for producing the National Intelligence Estimate—the gold standard of U.S. national security assessments.</p> <p>“Our mission is strategic analysis,” McAuliffe says. “So it’s to write products, develop new insights, and give briefings that help policymakers think about the future. On staff I have the intelligence community’s experts on all regions in the world and all functional topics, including weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cybersecurity.”</p> <p>The NIC, McAuliffe says, prides itself on providing decision-makers with clear-eyed and thorough analysis that will serve them well—even if they’d rather not hear it.</p> <p>“We really check our political views at the door,” she says. “I have no political views at work. I come in in an unbiased way and look at what’s before me. And some of the best analysis I’ve been involved in has made very senior people very angry, because it’s not what they want to hear. You’re oftentimes going in with a very difficult message.”</p> <p>With the Obama administration, she says, that involved sizing up the Arab Spring and predicting decades of chaos and autocratic crackdowns in the Middle East, rather than the hoped-for flourishing of democracy. With the Trump administration, it’s meant communicating negative assessments from other countries that the United States is withdrawing a bit from its role in the world.</p> <p>Speaking truth to power has long been a part of McAuliffe’s career. She worked on the President’s Daily Brief from 2001 to 2003, briefing General Peter Pace, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and she later served as director of the President’s Daily Brief.</p> <p>“It’s really the idea of making sure that the president and his most senior national security advisers have a perspective on what’s going on in the world that can help drive their daily decisions and discussions,” McAuliffe says. “So what I’ve found is that even when we’re telling an administration news that they don’t want to hear, which is fairly frequently, they trust what we say because it’s unbiased, and they use it to set the agenda for the day in terms of the debates and decisions.”</p> <p>McAuliffe, who began her CIA career as an analyst working on European security issues, has also held leadership positions in the agency’s weapons group and worked as director of an office tasked with analyzing the Middle East and North Africa. Her time in the weapons group, when she saw leaders grappling with lessons learned from the intelligence that led up to the Iraq War, still informs her.</p> <p>“It’s the idea of, if there’s dissenting views, we express them in products,” she says. “We really explore how the mainline judgement could be wrong, or what events or drivers could change it. So now for example in every National Intelligence Estimate, I require a box: ‘What if we’re wrong?’ So I think I learned how to do the craft of analysis, withstand really heavy political and other scrutiny, and learned lessons that I could apply going forward.”</p> <p>Now, as chair of the NIC, McAuliffe uses her expertise to help busy people who make policy think strategically.</p> <p>“The world is such a complicated place, and if you talk to policymakers, they’ll tell you they’ve had a hard time seeing beyond their inbox in any one day of the week,” she says. “Our role really is to project out, in many cases three, five, seven years. We’re trying to get people out of their inbox, think long-term, and most importantly, think in a multidisciplinary and interconnected way.”</p> <p>For McAuliffe, her latest role, like her career, has been a deeply satisfying way to serve.</p> <p>“I always knew that I wanted to give back by working for the government, either as as policymaker, or in the intelligence community,” she says. “For people I work with, and the broader cadre of national security officials who serve, really this is our civic duty and a public service. I don’t have a lot of spare time to do volunteer work, and I used to feel badly about it, but then I realized that I view my job as my way of giving back to the country. It’s exciting, and it’s very rewarding.”</p> Sharing Her Love of Reading Peace Corps Volunteer Served Students in Rural Jamaica Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/sharing-her-love-of-reading/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/sharing-her-love-of-reading/ <p>When Peace Corps volunteer <strong>Cymone Wilson ’08</strong> landed in Jamaica in the spring of 2016, she was ready to embrace her 28-month assignment to help primary school students struggling with reading. The only problem? The library at her school was closed.</p> <p>“The books were being eaten by bugs—I didn’t know there were actual bookworms until I saw that,” says Wilson, who was working in Jamaica as a literacy advisor for grades 1-6. “Or they were way above my students’ reading level. We had Shakespeare and Moby Dick—classics, but the kids cannot relate.”</p> <p>The horseshoe-shaped library, which had been created by knocking down the walls and combining three adjacent classrooms, was in disrepair, and there were no librarians to staff it—until Wilson came along.</p> <p>“Every school needs a library, and kids need to know that reading is important—and that it is fun, and it is cool,” says Wilson, a lifelong lover of reading who left a customer service job to join the Peace Corps at age 30.</p> <p>She worked with volunteers in Bath, a rural community of around 2,000 residents on the eastern side of the island, to clean up the space. Friends and family in the U.S. donated more than 500 books that were age and reading level appropriate for the primary school level.</p> <p>“A lot of my students don’t have books at home, so they were so excited to come to the library. I had to teach them how to properly put books away on the shelf, and the concept of returning them to me,” Wilson says. “And then I discovered who my awesome readers were, the ones flying through chapter books, and I gave them my own personal stash of books I loved when I was a kid. And when they’d say, ‘Oh Miss, I loved this book,’ my heart would be exploding, so happy that they loved reading.”</p> <p>Wilson took on librarian duties in addition to her literacy advisor job. During the school day, she worked one-on-one with students reading below grade level. After school, she staffed the library and earned a reputation for being involved in all the students’ activities, whether it was spelling bee club, a track meet, or a dance competition.</p> <p>“It became a joke at school: whatever the kids were into, I was into. They’d say, ‘There’s Miss Wilson again,’ at whatever the activity that day was,” says Wilson, who wrapped up her service in July and is now living in Chicago. “I wore a lot of hats, and I was invested. I have been given a lot, and have had so many opportunities. I want to give back, and it is just the right thing to do for another human being.”</p> <p>Wilson, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica, was part of the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to choose their service locations. Given this opportunity, she knew that she wanted to serve in Jamaica. She had spent time there throughout her life, visiting family in the capital city, Kingston, and in resort areas, but wanted to see more of the country.<br>  <br> “I had a feeling not all of Jamaica is like that, and wanted to go find out for myself,” Wilson says. “I got to learn about where my family comes from and my cultural background, while at the same time sharing what I love with these students. It was a perfect fit.”</p> <p>Wilson could speak conversational Patois, Jamaica’s native language, and says that her familiarity with the culture was an asset, but her two and a half years in Bath were not without challenges. The self-proclaimed city girl adjusted to life in a rural community—no AC despite temperatures soaring to 90 degrees, hanging laundry to dry on a line, spotty internet connection. She says her school was more fortunate than others, because they had a copier, a few computers, and white boards.</p> <p>“I didn’t realize what a big difference there is between the beautiful Sandals commercials we see on TV and how 95 percent of the country lives,” she says. “It is rough—it is not an easy place to be. I realized how resilient Jamaicans are, how hard working they are. Some of my students were literally hiking down a mountainside to get to school, and others had to take taxis. Getting to school was not the easiest, but rain or shine, they were coming.”</p> <p>The students are what Wilson misses most since returning to Chicago a few months ago. She keeps in touch with them and her fellow teachers through social media, and has plans to ship more books to the library later in the year.</p> <p>And though her Peace Corps service is over, Wilson’s commitment to education remains strong. She now works for Elevate K-12, an education technology company with a mission of making online learning accessible to students, regardless of socioeconomic status. She remains enthusiastic about the Peace Corps, and wants to help recruit more participants, especially minorities.</p> <p>“It is a great thing,” she says. “The Peace Corps is often referred to as ‘the hardest job you’ll ever love.’”</p> <p><em>To learn more about the Peace Corps, visit <a href="https://www.peacecorps.gov/">peacecorps.gov</a>. To talk with Cymone directly with questions about a Peace Corps service experience, email <a href="mailto:cymonewlsn129@gmail.com">cymonewlsn129@gmail.com</a>.</em><br>  </p> Fighting Poverty And Curbing Corruption She helps world's poorest countries strengthen their economies Mon, 08 Oct 2018 11:00:00 -0400 https://weare.nd.edu/stories/fighting-poverty-and-curbing-corruption/ https://weare.nd.edu/stories/fighting-poverty-and-curbing-corruption/ <p>Each time she prepares to visit a new country for her poverty-fighting work as a senior financial sector specialist with the World Bank, <strong>Cari Votava ’85 J.D.</strong> has a ritual: she reads a book on the country’s history. </p> <p>It’s a small step that allows her to appreciate the country’s traditions and culture before she dives into the hard work of helping it strengthen its financial system to better support the private sector and lift people out of poverty while reducing corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing.</p> <p>“Every country is unique,” Votava says. “There can be similarities, but to work with government officials, you have to gain their trust. To do this, you have to be very sensitive to the unique characteristics of each country and avoid the tendency to make generalizations. It helps to be culturally sensitive, to recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of each country and its people, and to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of their history.”</p> <p>This approach has served her well. Over the past two decades, Votava has visited more than 65 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Somalia. She has contributed to the the international standards for fighting money laundering and terrorist financing so countries can enjoy greater stability and grow their economies to improve living standards. And she has worked with local officials across the world to help implement these standards on the ground.</p> <p>“My specific focus is those countries classified as fragile, conflict and violence-affected states, most of which are the world’s poorest countries,” she says. “And that’s by choice. I find this group of countries the most challenging, but also, the most interesting and most rewarding. Every small improvement has a greater impact than in other countries.”</p> <p>Votava recently returned from Afghanistan, where she helped officials as they began analyzing data for a money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment—a process the country began in December 2017. She has done similar work in Azerbaijan, Botswana, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, and is part of efforts underway in Liberia and Gambia. These countries are among the 100 or so that have chosen to use a risk assessment tool developed by the Work Bank.</p> <p>Such work requires extensive travel over a number of years, but Votava sees indications that it continues to pay off. Within the past year, she heard from officials in Sierra Leone, with whom she had been working for a decade, that the country recorded its first conviction for money laundering. For one of the world’s poorest countries, this was a huge legal milestone—one that required adopting new laws and providing training to help officials handle the technical complexities of such a case.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Votava <a href="https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/29809/9781464812712.pdf">published a book</a> aimed at helping poor but resource-rich countries to improve transparency and accountability in the licensing process in mining sectors. The idea, she says, is to help ensure mining is done in a way that creates jobs rather than padding a corrupt official’s pockets, laundering illicit gains, or funneling cash into terrorist activities. As a result of her work, she’s been invited to moderate a panel at a conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in Senegal later this month. </p> <p>Votava discovered her professional passion while attending Notre Dame Law School. As a second-year student participating in the University’s London Law Program, she enjoyed a course on international institutions. One day, the professor began class by describing the World Bank’s work to fight poverty, and she knew she had found her calling.</p> <p>She had an opportunity to develop crucial expertise early in her career, after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The deputy finance minister of the Czech Republic asked her to help rewrite the country’s financial laws during the transition from a centrally planned to a free market economy, and Votava, whose grandparents were Czech immigrants to the United States, gladly accepted. The experience helped her to build skills she uses today and taught her to appreciate just how differently financial and legal systems worked across the world. </p> <p>That realization continues to inform Votava’s approach to each new country. Each visit is a chance to learn new things, analyze new problems, and work with others to solve it. </p> <p>“You really have to stretch your brain in a lot of different directions,” she says. “I very much enjoy my work. It’s always challenging, and I love having so many friends and colleagues in so many different countries.”</p>