By France Griggs Sloat
Master of Education in counseling, 1974
President and Executive Director, SC Ministry Foundation
Legally Born | Duffy wanted to go to law school, following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather who were lawyers and judges. But she got involved in athletics at Ohio Dominican University, which led to a coaching job at her high school in Columbus, Ohio, and to a career in teaching and counseling.
Olympic Material | “I was at one point one of the top 50 women basketball players in the U.S. in 1970 selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee. I got to try out for the team. I didn’t make it. I’d always considered myself tall at 5 feet 8.5 inches, but when I went to the tryout camp, there were 32 people over 6 feet tall. It was a whole new experience for me. But I was thrilled to be in the top 50.”
Super Sally | Her part-time job at Bishop Watterson High School became a full-time job after graduation, teaching American government and physical education, coaching four girls’ sports and serving as the girls’ athletic director. But her players kept coming to her for advice about personal issues, and Duffy liked helping them out. In 1972, she began studying at Xavier on weekends and summers for a master’s degree in counseling. “Students were coming to me with all kinds of issues. As a coach you get to know young women on a whole other level.”
The Big Girls | When she inquired about the University of Notre Dame’s counseling psychology program, she was hired as a residence hall rector. When the university learned she could coach, she was hired as coach of its new women’s basketball team.
Turnaround | “We struggled. We were 6-7 the first year and 9-6 the second year. I was coaching women who are now physicians and teachers at universities and were exceptional, but they did not come to Notre Dame to play basketball.”
Sisters of Charity | Notre Dame is where she first encountered the Sisters of Charity through a nun brought in to help with the transition to co-education. She loved her coaching job, but the pull to join the order was stronger. “I felt there was this vision of creating the common good, of bringing about the reign of God.”
Go West | She joined the order in 1977 and was the only novice that year in Colorado Springs. She earned a master’s in health care administration and human resources in 1984, worked at hospitals in Albuquerque, N.M., and Colorado, and earned a Master of Divinity in Chicago before returning to Cincinnati to lead the order’s SC Ministry Foundation. The non-profit organization awards grants in line with the Sisters of Charity’s mission, using investment income from its sisters’ life insurance policies. It does not do fundraising.
The Mission | “We do a lot of work with hurricane recovery in New Orleans and with advocacy around immigration issues and ending the death penalty and Catholic education,” she says.
Roots | The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati was founded in 1852 in Price Hill. The College of Mount St. Joseph is there. The motherhouse is there. So are the St. Joseph Home for people with disabilities, Seton High School, the Bayley retirement community, the Catholic Health Initiatives and other institutions supported by the sisters. All are recipients of the foundation’s annual grants allocation—more than 300 grants this year totaling $8 million.
Labor of Love | “I love the job because we are able to partner with so many organizations to hopefully work toward the
common good,” she says.