Katherine “Kat” Stackel was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2005 until 2007 in Arenal, Costa Rica, a rural area of approximately 3,000 people located around Lake Arenal, a major tourist attraction. Many small businesses in Arenal had been started through one-time donations given to local women. However, many of these small businesses lagged behind their competitors due to lack of general business knowledge and a lack of overall education for women. Kat taught these female entrepreneurs basic accounting, marketing, and organizational skills. She also taught English so that the women could communicate better with tourists and visitors. These crucial skills helped to make these micro-businesses competitive with other local businesses. On the side, Kat also helped develop a recycling plan with the Environmental Ministry.
Upon returning to the United States in 2007, Katherine wanted to find a way to continue to do work in the spirit of her Peace Corps experience. Duquesne University’s Peace Corps Fellowship offered an opportunity to do so. As a Fellow she worked at Amizade, an international service-learning organization headquartered in Pittsburgh. She graduated from the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy in spring 2010.
Kat says, “The Peace Corps Fellowship at Duquesne was the perfect opportunity for me because it allowed me to incorporate work experience with a nonprofit organization with my studies, which I think is giving me a more holistic view of how we promote positive change in our society.”
Shortly after graduating Kat took a position with the Women's Fund for Health Education and Research in Houston, Texas. In March 2012, less than two years after graduating, she was promoted to the position of Executive Director of the agency.