Perspectives on philanthropy, impact and our work to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world.

Kara Lemma serves as Program Officer for the Catholic Sisters strategic initiative.
Catholic Sister

In the United States, Catholic sisters have had their hands full coping with not one but two official Vatican inquiries, each initiated by distinct Vatican entities. On April 8, 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced its intention to undertake a "Doctrinal Assessment" of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Later that year, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) announced that sisters in the United States would be the subject of an "Apostolic Visitation." Both of these events have recently come to a close. But how do we make sense of all that has transpired? What are the implications for sisters and those of us who care about sisters as we move forward?

These questions particularly resonate with me. I am a proud product of 12 years of Catholic school, and I devoted much of my graduate work to the study of Catholic sisters which culminated in a doctoral dissertation on the topic of the Apostolic Visitation. I interviewed 55 sisters from diverse congregations around the country and listened to their stories as to how this experience impacted their lives as women religious. The networks I created as a result of this research led me here, to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, where our Catholic Sisters Initiative team makes grants to organizations that support women religious around the globe. To say that I am deeply inspired by Catholic sisters is putting it mildly.

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Lisa Bohmer, Senior Program Officer, manages the Foundation's grantmaking in the area of Children Affected by HIV and AIDS. Brad Myers, Senior Program Officer, helps guide the Foundation's strategic initiative supporting Catholic Sisters in the United States and abroad and manages monitoring and evaluation of grants in Catholic Education.
Zambia Main Photo
Our delegation with the Holy Rosary Sisters in Chipapa, Zambia.

From April 9 through 19, members of our board and staff traveled to Zambia to visit ongoing Hilton Foundation projects carried out by grantee partners in two of our strategic initiatives: the Catholic Sisters Initiative and the Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Initiative. In addition, Zambia is the site of a new joint program that brings together both initiatives in an effort to train Catholic Sisters to meet the developmental needs of young children affected by HIV, in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services.

Zambia is home to awe-inspiring natural wonders, an abundance of wildlife, and a burgeoning economy. However, poverty is widespread and life expectancy is among the lowest in the world—largely due to the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. This trip was an opportunity for us to meet our partners and beneficiaries and to understand the context in which they work.

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Tenille Metti is a Program Associate, Domestic Programs, focusing on the Foundation's substance use prevention initiative.
SUP 2015.06.08

So often in our conversations with policy makers, practitioners, and families across the country about preventing and reducing substance use among youth, people express a mixture of optimism and concern. Tackling this issue can certainly make a difference but can often seem like an insurmountable task. While there has been substantial research on prevention programs, less emphasis has been placed on measuring the effect of programs working with youth who have started to use alcohol or other drugs but are not yet dependent. As recognition of addiction as a health and wellness issue increases, providers, parents, and peers are looking for new ways to engage young people in constructive approaches to prevent, delay, and reduce substance use.

Recently, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a study by Dr. Emily E. Tanner-Smith and Dr. Mark W. Lipsey, "Brief Alcohol Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." This research brought attention to the opportunity that brief interventions can provide for a youth in early stages of alcohol use. The report came after prior research on the effectiveness of outpatient substance use treatment options of adolescents: "I began to wonder whether brief interventions might be an effective strategy for addressing alcohol use among youth—a behavior that appeared more resistant to treatment efforts," Dr. Tanner-Smith said. In other words, Dr. Tanner-Smith was interested in learning if tailored conversations, which would engage the youth in a discussion about their substance use, would be more effective in reducing substance use for youth that are just beginning to use.

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