Raised by Mercy

Kathy Walgreen

Kathleen Walgreen ’22 (Hon.) and her family are longtime friends and supporters of Salve Regina; her son and daughter-in-law, Carl and Gigi Allen, contributed a generous gift to support the renovation of McKillop Library’s first floor and establish the Allen Family Learning Commons. A staunch benefactor of the Sisters of Mercy and their work both in the U.S. and abroad, Walgreen’s mercy roots run deep.

“Other than four months of my entire education – when I first went to kindergarten – I was taught by Mercy nuns throughout grade school, high school and nursing school,” said Walgreen, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in May 2022. “I was always fascinated with Mother McAuley; I grew up with her.”

Today, Walgreen is an active alumna of Mercy High School in Rochester, New York, where her generous leadership has assisted many students and helped to transform the school’s infrastructure. She also sits on Salve’s Board of Trustees. With her late husband, she named a residence hall in celebration of her daughter Brooke’s graduation with the Class of 2013 and has hosted numerous events to engage Salve supporters. In addition, she commissioned a statue of Catherine McAuley, which now stands beside Our Lady of Mercy Chapel at the heart of campus, paying tribute to the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.

Walgreen is also involved with many charitable and cultural organizations. An advocate for historic preservation, Walgreen was a member of the Vice President’s Residence Restoration Foundation in Washington, D.C., and founded the Walgreen Drug Stores Historical Foundation, which has become a leader in the movement to collect and preserve the history and artifacts of Walgreen Company. She is a former member of the Board Trustees for Woodland Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois, as well as the Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board and the Lake County Board of Health. She also served for 20 years on The Kennedy Center Board of Regents in Washington, D.C., and in 1986, became the head of the Walgreen Alumni Association.

“I am a hand-raiser,” said Walgreen, who also served as chair of Salve’s 75th anniversary committee. “Philanthropy is a big part of my life and Salve’s mission and vision have resonated with me since I first discovered the University.  

“There’s something about this place,” she continued. “Whenever I visit campus, it feels like home. It is a wonderful school with amazing potential. When given the opportunity to endow the vice president for mission integration’s position, I said yes. As a leadership role for the University, it is the foundation of the student experience. I’m so happy with how successful Salve has become and how wonderful the students are.”

In considering what the word “mercy” means, Walgreen replied: “I think it’s a way of life. I’m happy that I’m able to give; I never thought I’d be in this position. I really think of mercy as love, sharing, kindness, giving; you see something wrong, and you help to fix it.”