Who We Are

The Ministry Leadership Center is composed of Core Staff and a network of seasoned collaborators that support the work of the Center through their participation in specific projects and initiatives.  

President/CEO:  Laurence J. O'Connell, S.T.D., Ph.D.

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Laurence (Larry) serves as President/CEO of the Ministry Leadership Center. He formerly held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Park Ridge Center, a bioethics research institute in Chicago; and served as the Chief Ethics Officer of Advocate Healthcare System and Clinical Professor at Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University. He has also held the positions of Vice President of the Catholic Health Association of the United States and Departmental Chairman and Professor at St. Louis University. During the Clinton administration, he served at the White House as a member of the President’s Health Care Task Force.

Larry has been a board member of numerous organizations in Europe and the United States and consultant to some of the largest philanthropic foundations in the Americas. He has published and co-edited over a hundred articles, reviews, and books published in English, Italian, French, and German. Along with co-recipient Prof. Paul Ricoeur, he received the Golden Eurydice Award, given in recognition “of persistent work in organizing structures of bioethical debate and exceptional contributions to the understanding of sound ethical reasoning,” awarded by the Danish Minister of Health at the Danish Parliament in 1996. Larry serves as the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Turkey at Sacramento, California. 


Vice President:  Kathryn Racine, M.Div.

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Kathryn (Kate) Racine serves as Vice President of the Ministry Leadership Center where she focuses on innovative initiatives that advance the mission of the Center with a particular focus on the role of formation in sustaining and advancing the mission and identity of Catholic ministries.  Prior to joining the Ministry Leadership Center, Kate was Founder/Owner of B-Line, a triple-bottom line business in Portland, Oregon focused on sustainability and featured in Time Magazine and the New York Times.  She also has worked extensively in education, most recently as Director of The Center for Spirituality and Social Change at Notre Dame de Namur University where she advanced community-based learning, spiritual formation, and mission integration initiatives.  

Kate has spent extensive time abroad including  working with former child prostitutes in Thailand, teaching English in rural Japan, and traveling over 10,000 miles by bicycle through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.  All of these experiences have profoundly shaped her worldview, her commitment to social justice, and her love of contemplative wisdom traditions that sustain meaningful action in the world.  She has an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from Bowdoin College, a  Master of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and trained as a spiritual director with the Sisters of Mercy at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA.

Kate joined the Ministry Leadership Center in 2012, drawn to the intersection of values-based leadership, spirituality, and the Center's efforts to sustain and advance the unique character and contribution of Catholic ministries.


Collaborators we have worked with include leaders across Catholic ministry sectors:

John (Jack) Shea, former Director of Program and Processes for the Ministry Leadership Center

David Nygren, Ph.D., Nygren Consulting

Cardinal Roger Mahony

Sister Kathleen Kelly, Ph.D., former Board Chair, Ascension Health

Jeff Theis, D.Min., Loyola Marymount University

**for a complete list, please see MLC's publication, Advancing Ministry Leadership Formation: New Directions 2013-2016, pp. 46-47