Sheila A. O’Donnell-Schuster, Ph.D., ’62

Of the many things Sheila remembers from her years at IWA, she singles out the concept of service as the idea that most affected her then and in the years that followed. And it is the theme of service that has both characterized and transformed her life, personally and professionally, ever since. Having served in various leadership roles at Incarnate Word – from president of her class in freshman year to president of the Student Council as a senior – Sheila went on to win a full scholarship to The Catholic University of America and then a National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship to Purdue University, where she pursued graduate education in Clinical Psychology. She earned her doctorate in Psychology from the University of Louisville and has put her child psychology skills to work by delivering clinical and training services in Kentucky for the past 25 years. Her advocacy efforts on behalf of persons with mental illness and other disabilities began early in her career and, since 2000, have been the dominating feature of her work. She is currently the Executive Director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition and has served as Director of Professional Affairs and Legislative Liaison for the Kentucky Psychological Association. As a founding member and co-chair of the Kentuckians for Health Care Reform, Sheila’s advocacy goal is to educate, prod, create acceptance, and promote greater funding for services needed to enable persons with disabilities to be fully functioning members of their communities. She has been honored by numerous national and state organizations for her advocacy efforts on behalf of children, individuals with disabilities, and those without access to health care. While grateful for the many blessings she has enjoyed in her life, Sheila says that her greatest joys are her two children, David and Liz, and her five grandchildren – Lucas, Liam, Seamus, Colin, and Isabella. "I have been blessed throughout my lifetime with a loving family and loving friends who are like family – and IWA has been no small part of that," Sheila said.