Name: Kathleen Duncan
Title: Steps of Love Board Member and founder of the program in Mexico
Kids: 3 grown sons- 32, 30 & 30 years old
City you live in: Phoenix
A typical day in my life includes…
In the U.S.: some opportunity to be active—preferably in nature.
In Mexico: connecting with the students we support
I was born… In Lansing, Michigan but grew up in Northern CA.
My favorite thing about Arizona… Its natural beauty and proximity to Mexico
I’m listening to… A podcast called “The Life You Can Save”
My family… Is everything to me.
If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be… My mother who passed away much too soon.
One thing I cannot live without… Connection with others—especially children
When I was younger, I wanted to be… s teacher.
I’m inspired by… The amazing, resilient students we support in Mexico.
The one person who motivates me is… My husband who has spent almost 40 years helping me balance dreams with practicality, dealing in facts but never losing ideals and, most importantly, always supporting and trusting me in my search for the right kind of life for me.
If I could change anything in the world, it would be… That where a child starts in life would not determine where they finish.
The perfect day would be… Either a hike and then relaxing in AZ with my family or spending time with the kids we serve in Mexico.
My first job was… At the ‘Casa de los Ninos’ Crisis Nursery in Tucson.
My favorite escape… the beach in Rocky Point, Mexico.
My life… is nothing like I thought it would be at 59 years old! To many, my decision four years ago to devote the rest of my life to helping kids living in poverty in Mexico go to school probably seems like a crazy mid-life crisis–I think my husband might consider it one of the most expensive mid-life crisis ever! It has certainly been a bit crazy and very challenging learning a new language, launching a program in another country and figuring out how to lead non-profit organizations on both sides of the border at my age. However, when I am in Mexico seeing so many young people we serve have the chance to go to school and have hope for a better future, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.
I’m currently working on… finding more balance in my life! Several years traveling back and forth between Rocky Point and Phoenix every week or two and the rapid growth of this program has made it difficult to maintain balance!
Always… remember that our fingerprints never fade from the lives we touch.
Never… forget that to the world you may be only one person but to one person you may be the world.
Favorite Quote… I have two all-time favorites: “When you find yourself in the incredibly fortunate position of having more than you need to survive, rather than raising your standard of living you should raise your standard of giving.” and “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Biggest Dream… To leave this world just a little bit better than I found it.
My Pet Peeve(s)… Closed minds and judgement of others.
More About Kathleen Duncan:
I spent the early part of my adult life raising kids, working to support our family, and helping my husband grow an organic farming business (www.duncanfamilyfarms.com). During those years we vacationed frequently in Rocky Point, Mexico and I fell in love with the community. However, I also couldn’t help but see the number of kids living in poverty and not getting the chance to go to school.
Each visit I found myself saying “Somebody ought to do something to help these kids go to school so they can break the cycle of poverty they come from.” Then in 2012, I found myself an ‘empty-nester’ with our farming business beginning to thrive. Finding myself with time and resources I never expected to have, I got this crazy idea that maybe I could “be that somebody” to help give kids in Rocky Point a path out of poverty through education.
Over the next 3 ½ years I spent half my time in Rocky Point learning the language and began developing a plan. I launched my program in 2016 and we began that first year supporting 72 students. In just four years we have grown to support almost 600 students and I now have a local team of 12 professionals who follow our students to assure they have the ongoing resources and support they need to thrive inside and outside the classroom.
Thanks to the commitment of this local team, 97% of the students in our program successfully complete the school year and move on to the next grade level.