Kathleen  Cloud's Memorial

Kathleen Cloud
(1931 - 2010)

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General Details

Name: Dr Kathleen Cloud
Gender: Female
Age: 79 years old
Lived: Friday, 27 February 1931 - Friday, 5 November 2010

My Story

    Dr. Kate Cloud, a leader in the field of women in international development, the Director Emerita of the Office of Women in International Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a scholar of women’s economic contributions to agricultural development worldwide, died in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 5, while recovering from brain surgery and battling heart problems.

         She started her professional life working as a teacher first in Santa Fe, NM and then settling in New York City. In 1968, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, and earned her M. Ed. degree in 1970 at the University of Arizona.  At the University, she chaired the faculty committee on the creation of the women’s studies program, and for the next ten years she worked with Project Follow Through and the Head Start Program, both national programs to improve the education of poor children and to assist their families. Through that work, as well as her commitment to feminism, she developed an interest in women’s role in development.

In 1974, she attended a Harvard summer workshop on the effects, on women and children, of prolonged malnutrition brought on by drought. She was struck by the ineffectual response of development institutions to their problems. Determined to do something, she began to get in touch with other women also motivated to assure that their institutions did no harm to women in other societies. By making arguments involving economic efficiency and the quantitative measurement of policy impacts, these women began highlighting the critical roles performed by women in agriculture.
In 1976, Kate’s research in Senegal, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso to identify the economic needs of village women yielded a paper, based on her interviews, titled “Sex Roles in Sahelian Food Systems.” It was translated into French and used widely in technical briefings, influencing both male and female colleagues. She documented that village women and thus their families could benefit from technical aid and loans to produce more vegetables, goats, sheep and chickens, access to water, carts to transport crops, and income.

In 1978 she proposed and received USAID WID funding for an international conference on Women in World Food Systems held at the University of Arizona. It was attended by 250 women and men from 23 countries representing universities, developing countries’ government ministries, the US government, and the United Nations.  Within the next few months, workshops, seminars, and discussions multiplied.  In 1979 Kate founded the Women and Food Information Network funded by USAID WID to collect and disseminate information and serve as a liaison with the Board for International Food and Agriculture (BIFAD). During this period she was also WID coordinator for the Consortium for International Development (CID), an association of 11 western land grant universities.

After her youngest son entered college, she went to Harvard to work on her doctorate, earning her Ed. D in 1986 at the age of 55.  While at Harvard, she was one of three founders of the Harvard-MIT Women in Development Group that inspired the subsequent establishment of the Association for Women in Development (AWID – now called Association for Women’s Rights in Development). Kate was one of AWID’s founders, and served on its board for many years. 

In 1986 she became Associate Professor of Human and Community Development, Agricultural Economics and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She was Acting Director of the Office of Women in International Development (WID) there from 1986 to 88. She then became Director for ten years from 1988 to 1998.

She received a Bunting Fellowship and took a sabbatical in 1994-95 at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.  While there she characteristically formed strong bonds with her Bunting sisters, further widening a large network of strong female friends.

During her tenure as Director of WID, she effectively administered the University’s interdisciplinary graduate program, Gender Roles in International Development (GRID), which attracts highly motivated students – both women and men, American and international.  Dr. Cloud’s successful mentoring of international students and her vigorous and inventive support of their professional development is one of her most noteworthy achievements. She taught, led, and connected people.  Her self-assured manner and networking skills made her a model for women compelled to introduce their findings in a male-dominated academic world. The GRID graduates returned to their home countries bolstered to identify and solve social and economic problems, taking positions of responsibility in universities, governments, businesses and nongovernmental agencies. One student’s project was adding four questions to a census so the World Bank would have statistics on what roles women play in agriculture, to estimate the portion of loan money to earmark to aid them.

Through her work at WID, she became an expert on women’s contributions to agriculture in the global South. She taught and traveled extensively for the University and she helped determine women's needs for the loans made available by the World Bank.  Kate retired from the University in 2000 but continued working as director of a USAID-funded project on Gender and Agribusiness (GAP), conducting research on the employment of rural women and “best practices” in multinational agribusinesses in Zimbabwe, Thailand, and Poland. 

The culmination of her work was her recent research into of the economic and social value of women’s unpaid work as mothers, and its relationship to the nature and speed of economic and social development.

Born Mary Kathleen O'Donnell, to Lillian and Francis O'Donnell, of Morenci, Michigan, Kate attended schools run by the Dominican Sisters in Adrian, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Kalamazoo, receiving her BA from Nazareth College in 1953.   In her twenties Kate  was a woman both proudly bohemian and also strongly connected to her Catholic faith.  She spent those early in Greenwich Village, frequenting the White Horse Tavern with friends, singing in the back room with the Clancy Brothers, and Irish band. Several summers she lived at the Grailville in Ohio, an international community of Catholic women, attempting to accomplish change through food production.

Kate married Wallace Cloud in 1958; they split in 1968.

They had three children: Christopher, now a political activist in Tucson; Catherine, a videographer and facilitator in Zimbabwe, and Daniel, a lecturer in philosophy at Princeton University.

        She moved to the Quadrangle in Haverford, Pa., in 2006 and kept up her travel and friendships from there.

Kate is survived by her children, her siblings, Tom O'Donnell, a retired diplomat, Carol Knych, a retired teacher; Ellen O'Donnell, a retired social worker, and Pat O'Donnell, a retired advertising executive, and eight nieces and nephews. 

Upon news of her death, there will be women weeping in Africa, India, Pakistan, China, and wherever else her students and friends are still struggling to solve the problems and inequities faced by the poor and underserved. Right up until the moment it stopped beating, Kate's heart was as big as her brain, huge and overflowing, generous and grand, interested in all those around her – whether it was her doctor, or the cleaning lady. She questioned them all about their lives and their families, always finding the good and the positive in the smallest details.  After her recent brain surgery, she donated money to the woman in the next bed so she could afford her own surgery.  She ordered a CD of the Fisk Singers for her African nurse. She was always involved and engaged with those around her, even when she could barely walk or talk. We can only imagine that she is now busy organizing Heaven, making sure that those in the back of the bus that goes up the mountain get a better seat, that the bus driver is a woman, that they are all going in the right direction (preferably hers), and that they are taking the scenic route so they can appreciate the beauty along the way.  Drive on, Kate! Those of us you left behind will forever be struggling to catch upbut what a ride you've given us.                   

Latest Tributes

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Candle Memorial Tribute
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Thinking of you on Mother's Day, Kate. Love, Katie
Flower Memorial Tribute
From: cathcloud
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I will miss you, Kate for the rest of my days. I will miss your hilarious Irish witticisms. ...
Comment Memorial Tribute
From: cathcloud
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I will miss you, Kate for the rest of my days. I will miss your hilarious Irish witticisms. ...

Biography

Fathers Name: Francis O'Donnell
Mothers Name: Lillian Moran
Children's Names: Christopher, Catherine, Daniel
Siblings Names: Thomas, Carol, Ellen, Patrick
Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
City of Residence: Haverford, PA
Occupation: Education & Training
Marital Status: Divorced
Religion: Catholic

Interests

Other Interests:
Kate has written extensively on women’s roles in world food systems and gender roles and structural transformation. Her records, Women and Food Information Network Records 1978-1991 are housed at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. Link: http://hollisweb.harvard.edu/

Passing

Place of Passing: Bryn Mawr
Date of Passing: 5 November 2010
Cause of Passing: Heart Problems
Type of Funeral: Catholic, plus several multidenominational celebrations of her life
Place of Burial: Morenci, MI
Funeral Location: St Thomas Church at Villanova, Rosemont, PA
Funeral Date: 12 November 2010

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