House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi threw a terrific party for outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius a few weeks ago. Receptions saluting great public service happen all the time on Capitol Hill, but this one was quite different — the great Trinity Sisterhood was out in force, with friends and classmates of Leader Pelosi ’62 and Secretary Sebelius ’70 filling the Leader’s reception room shoulder-to-shoulder with members of Congress, Senators, Cabinet secretaries and even President Obama’s Chief of Staff. Former Congresswoman Barbara Bailey Kennelly ’58, Trinity’s first alumna in Congress and now our Distinguished Professor of Political Science, had a field day greeting her former Congressional colleagues while taking obvious delight in greeting this amazing group of Trinity alumnae.
As I looked around the room, I marveled at this talented and accomplished group of Trinity Women, each truly powerful and influential in her own right; collectively, what a force! Just some of the attendees included Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Financial Resources Ellen Murray ’70; Sister Ann Kendrick SND ’66 whose creation of the Farmworker Ministry in Apopka, Florida is legendary; Sharon Brady Raimo ’69 who is the indomitable leader of St. Coletta of Greater Washington, a school for children with disabilities; Peggy O’Brien ’69 of the Folger Shakespeare Library among many endeavors; and so many other alumnae whose accomplishments make alma mater proud.
Nancy Pelosi relishes telling her own story of the “Trinity Sisters.” As the story goes, on the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, there was a reception at the White House with all of the leaders who made healthcare reform possible, including Secretary Sebelius and then-Speaker of the House Pelosi. Nancy suggested to President Obama that he take a picture with the “Trinity Sisters.” He looked around, puzzled, and said, (paraphrasing here), “Sure, but where are they?” perhaps looking for women in habits. “Here we are!” exclaimed Nancy, gathering around the President with Kathleen Sebelius as the photographer snapped away. The picture captured an amazing moment. Later, the “Trinity Sisters” also became the title of a remarkable article by Kevin Carey in the Washington Monthly.
As members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries paid tribute to Secretary Sebelius, the powerful leadership of Trinity Women for justice and equality was very clear. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke eloquently of Secretary Sebelius’s courage and commitment to ensuring access to affordable health care for all citizens, despite the fierce opposition she faced. Today, I hear so many of Trinity’s current students talk about the importance of sisterhood at Trinity. Graduating seniors pledge to keep their ties to each other and to Trinity strong and faithful, recognizing the critical value of this bond —- the Trinity sisterhood — through life long beyond graduation day. That gathering in Leader Pelosi’s office to salute and celebrate the leadership of Secretary Sebelius was yet another example of the powerful Trinity sisterhood.
I thought of other occasions when the Trinity Sisterhood has been out in force. Just recently, on May 31, during Alumnae Reunion we gathered on the front lawn to break ground for the new Trinity Academic Center. The Trinity Sisterhood was out in force! Here’s the Class of ’64 waving their shovels to celebrate the grand moment:
For now, I’ve arrived in the Adirondacks so you know what that means….. the Adirondack Chronicles are about to return! Stay tuned for cute critters on my next blog….