Stories of Meaningful Change


Stories from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Opening Doors for Women and Girls

Opening Doors for Women and Girls

Step inside Katherine Saunders 1929 home situated among the tree-lined streets of Flint's cultural center neighborhood and you'll experience welcoming warmth and inviting energy. This clearly is a woman with many passions-love for home, family and art to name a few.

Katherine's creative talents are everywhere-walls mirrored with original paintings, hand-quilted blankets for children in need, Christmas cards with original art and Haiku poetry, warm gingerbread cookies and a comfortable cup of tea. Her essence is a blend of accomplishment, success and genuine caring for those less fortunate.

A long-time contributor to the Flint Women and Girls Fund, Katherine believes the Fund "encourages the advancement and participation of women and girls in all aspects of our society and promotes the removal of barriers so they may be successful." Her ties to the Fund include being a former Libby Award nominee, as well as authoring the "State of Women and Girls in Genesee County," a research project commissioned by the Fund in 1994.

A former teacher in the Flint Community Schools, Katherine later served as an education instructional specialist, chief executive officer of three nonprofit organizations and a State of Michigan bureaucrat. She retired in 2000 as owner of her own management consulting firm. Throughout her career, Katherine has advocated, supported and empowered women and girls to be the best that they can be.

As the chief executive for the Arizona Girl Scouts, Katherine recalls a meeting with a young staffer. She asked the woman about her goals and aspirations. The young woman said, "I would love to work at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C." Katherine replied, "Then why don't you?" Sage advice, encouragement and a professional recommendation resulted in the woman obtaining her dream job at the Smithsonian.

Inspiration for her giving spirit came from her parents, who were of humble means but gave of their time to the American Red Cross. "My parents never wanted to be rewarded and were somewhat embarrassed by any public recognition of their kindness," Katherine says. "It was a 'Pass It On' mentality. You help the next person who needs it."

In her own special way, Katherine Saunders has been helping women and girls succeed her entire life through charitable giving, service and leadership. She holds the distinction of being the first female to hold top office in several organizations, including the Flint Rotary Club.

She enjoys a very active retirement lifestyle with her husband of 49 years, Richard.

"My husband says I keep opening doors for women," she says. "I feel fortunate to have the wherewithal to give to something I believe in."