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Women in Philanthropy - An Interview with Kerry Robinson on the Petrus Development Show

In this episode of the Petrus Development Show, Andrew turns the mic over to Sarah Rose and Tara Doyon for the three part series, "Women in Philanthropy."

Today, 54% of adults who identify as Catholic are women. Historically, beginning when Jesus charged Peter with maintaining and building the Church, and for 2000 years following, leadership in the Church has been predominantly male. However, we see changes in today's arena, where more women are involved in church leadership than ever before.

The reality is that we live in a time when having diversity of thought and background in our society and our institution’s leadership is critical to being able to reach out and evangelize the world.  The need to engage women and the need to understand what that engagement should and could look like is more important than ever.

And at Petrus, we want to be part of leading and fostering that conversation. This episode, and the next 2 episodes will focus the guests and conversations on the topic of Women in Philanthropy. Today's episode welcomes Kerry Robinson, Partner of Leadership Roundtable. 

We are pleased to jump into this first of the three-part Women in Philanthropy series. 

Show Notes:

Tara Doyon is the Director of Client Services & Senior Consultant. She and her husband have two daughters, 18 and 21 and live in Bloomington, Indiana.

Sarah Rose is a Petrus Consultant. She and her husband have three children, ages 8, 6 and 4 and live in Austin, TX. 


Kerry Robinson

Kerry Robinson, has been working within the church since the age of 14. It began with a 76 year family history when her Great Grandparents, John and Helena Raskob founded the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities. The foundation had two purposes. One, to support domestic and international projects from institutions and organizations identified with the Catholic Church. Which did not come with geographical restrictions. (The church is truly global, there are 3 parishes in the arctic circle). And two, to create family involvement and a passion for stewardship. 


How does female leadership add to building the kingdom of God and why is it so important?

It would be such a bizarre church without women. We need to be elevating women to positions of meaningful leadership at every level of the church including the Roman Curia. And insisting that women be included at the table of decision making.

It’s not because women are better or laity are more insightful, it’s because diversity matters. We are all myopic in our own way. We only know what we know and we only see what we see. Bring people intentionally together who have different backgrounds and vantage points to address problems and find solutions.

Women are too often excluded from decision making to the detriment of the church.


Women are 54% of the Catholic Church (Pew Research Center)

Lay ecclesial ministers are predominately women, approximately 80% (FutureChurch) and less than 3% of Vatican leaders are women. (Voices of Faith)

Volunteers, who are the backbone of a ministry, are predominately women. We are missing half of the church if women are not included.

Young Catholic women, particularly from the west, know that they can reach the highest levels of leadership in any sector or industry. However, those same women, who discern a vocation of service to the church that they love and to which they belong, are more often than not confronted with certain limitations that prevent them from exercising their full complement of skills and abilities. And if we aren’t paying attention, we lose them. And instead of becoming an inspiring leader in the church, they become CEO of a corporation. Which further impacts the future through her children and their role in the church and what they see as possible.


How can we encourage female leadership in the church?

Never underestimate the power of personal invitation and the role of mentoring in the equation. Kerry has only ever been personally invited to leadership in the church. There is a profound hunger for mentoring right now. The relationships of mentor/mentee are so fruitful and rewarding.

Identify women in communities who are ready to serve and invite them to it.

Mentorship is crucial to bringing women to the decision making table. Both Kerry and Tara have stories of what their mentors were able to teach, show and provide them which hold true today.

“Do your giving while you’re living so you’re knowing where it’s going.” – Dr. Helen Gibbons, Indiana University

Finding proof that bringing women to the decision making table only brings good, can be seen in the secular/corporate world. You can see it especially in the military.


Final Words

When it comes to working on behalf of the church and having a family, Kerry was only able to do for the church because she was able to work from home. Having a home office was crucial. You need support from leaders for that to happen.

When her children were young, she would tell them that if they were ever separated, to stop and look for a woman who had young children and go to them immediately. Because Kerry knew her children would be safe and that woman would take action. It’s a testament to the strength of women.


Tara’s Key Take-Aways:

  • Don’t be afraid to speak out. Often times we feel timid or that we don’t have a voice, but we do and it is our obligation to have our voices heard.
  • Be an encourager. An encourager of hard conversations, hard decisions, making personal invitations to those who don’t regularly have a seat at the table.
  • Be a mentor to someone because you will grow so much through those relationships.


Sarah’s Key Take-Aways:

  • Mentorship and modeling. Being able to model that stewardship to your children and peers.
  • We need each other. We need women at the table, we aren’t complete without both male and female leadership working together.
  • Support of employees, family, community. Kerry would not have been able to what she does without the support of her community. And that is applicable to every mother working in the industry.


Learn more about:

Raskob Foundation -

Esteem Leadership Program -

Catholic Leadership Roundtable –


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