by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism
Dr. Knight: Would you please share with us your early Catholic formation.
Jan: I was raised in a practicing catholic family, and went to catholic grade school and catholic high school in Cincinnati. But beyond just the outward trappings of school and church on Sunday, I grew up learning from my parents the importance of being active in my parish. My Dad was on the parish council and finance committees; my mom was both the school nurse and school librarian at the parish grade school. They are still lectors and eucharistic ministers, and have always given generously of their time, talent and treasure.
Dr. Knight: Please tell us the significance of your Mercy High School experience? And in your high school Jay?
Jan: I went to McAuleyHigh School in Cincinnati (a Sisters of Mercy school). McAuley expanded my horizons – my parent’s neighborhood was pretty racially and economically homogenous – in an accepting and inclusive way. As a single-sex school, it also ingrained in me that women could be leaders – in sports, student government, academically, etc.
Dr. Knight: You went to college and joined Holy Name Cathedral. How did you make that decision?
Jan: When we moved to Chicago, we were looking for ways to connect to the community and make friends. Becoming part of a large, active parish was a no-brainer!
Dr. Knight: You were called by God to be an administrator in business. What is the significance of your call to be a follower of Christ?
Jan: As an executive compensation consultant, I spend my days very much in the capitalist, secular world. I think my faith helps to ground me and remind me that my “day job” is what I do, not who I am. That said, I try to operate by the tenets I learned from the nuns in grade school – be kind, be fair, be truthful, and treat everyone as you wish to be treated. The corporate world would be a better place if everyone did the same.
Dr. Knight: You spent formation finding out your abilities and gifts through discernment. How was your discernment helpful to you personally in your work?
Jan: I view this as a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing. At Holy Name, I am a Lector and Eucharistic Minister on Sundays, and I am also on the Finance Committee. At work, I spend a lot of time analyzing company financial statements and conducting quantitative analyses; I also spend a lot of time speaking to large groups of directors and executives, and giving speeches/webinars. My work has definitely enabled me to add value in my finance committee role, and I often tell people at work that I learned to be a public speaker by being a lector at church!
Dr. Knight: What do you want the readers to understand after reading this interview about working in the businesses you chose? About living as a married couple?
Jan: I haven’t touched on this yet, but having a partner who shares your belief system is really important. Jay and I share a passion around supporting catholic education – in addition to supporting our alma maters, we do a lot with Big Shoulders in Chicago and the archdiocese. Furthermore, Jay’s endeavors give him the time to devote to causes we both care about, but that I don’t have enough time to pursue.
Dr. Knight: What are some of the challenges of the future Church? In what way could you help?
Jan: I think we’re challenged to attract and engage young people. So many of them consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” And yet these same young people are looking for connections and community – which the church can provide. We need to “meet people where they are” – introducing them to the church not through rules and catechism, but through the church’s good works and outreach programs (e.g., Big Shoulders Fund, Catholic Charities, etc.).
Dr. Knight: What are some of the joys you’ve experienced as an administrator of your businesses?
Jan: Like everyone, I have good and bad days at work. Consulting is essentially about relationship-building and problem-solving. Good days are the ones where I know I’ve helped someone: I’ve helped a client solve a problem or a colleague overcome a challenge. Matthew 20:26 “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
Dr. Knight: As an administrator what are some of the duties that you perform/pray?
Jan and Jay: As a leader of a small consulting firm, I’m a player/coach. I have oversight responsibility for everything that happens in my region, but I also have my own individual clients and projects. While the work isn’t physically taxing, it can be mentally stressful. My faith community helps me keep work pressures in proper perspective relative to bigger, more important things and reminds me that my job is what I do, not who I am.
Thank you so much for offering us this interview and letting us see all the good works that is accomplished as a married couple focused on Christ and His Church
Dr. Knight: Thank you so much for offering us this interview and letting us see all the good works that is accomplished as a married couple focused on Christ and His Church.