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Q&A with Mercy Mcauley’s new President

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At Mercy McAuley, we are a family of students, parents, employees, alumnae, benefactors and friends. Tell us about your family!

I am so glad to be part of the Mercy McAuley family! My husband is Steven Herppich, and we have been married for almost 19 years. (We met while he was a photographer for The Cincinnati Enquirer.) We have two sons, Quinton (age 11) and Kilian (age 9), who were both born in Washington state and have the cool, rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest in their veins. Cincinnati’s hot and humid summers are going to be rough for them! My dad lives in Cincinnati; my mom, who passed away in 2017, taught at McAuley High School in its early days of the 1960s. I have a sister in Cincinnati, another sister in Columbus, and another sister in Massachusetts.

What part of Cincinnati will you call home?

My family will be moving to Cincinnati from Holland, Michigan, where we have lived since 2014. We will be living in College Hill, in the house where I grew up (and my mom grew up!), about a mile from Mercy McAuley High School.

What excites you most about returning to your hometown of Cincinnati? What are your favorite places to eat, visit, and play?

I’ve been blessed to live in some beautiful cities, but Cincinnati is my hometown — and I can’t wait to be back home. When, as a family, we made the decision to return to Cincinnati, our sons drove a hard bargain involving a long-term commitment to Skyline, Graeter’s and Xavier basketball games. They’re tough negotiators. Looks like cheese coneys, black raspberry chip and the Cintas Center are in our future.

Our family to-do list also includes visiting the Cincinnati Art Museum, checking out the ArtWorks murals downtown, going to Findlay Market, enjoying arts performances (especially Shakespeare in the Park), eating at Ambar India, seeing movies at the Esquire Theatre, cheering on FC Cincinnati, and taking in some Reds games. My sons are Seahawks fans, but they’ll come around to the Bengals, I’m sure. We are also excited to watch my nephew, Nicholas, play varsity sports in his senior year of high school.

And, believe it or not, I’ve missed those conversations that are patently “Cincinnati” — the five-minute conversation with a stranger where you realize that you know five people in common, and the conversation that begins with the question, “What high school did you go to?” Once those conversations happen, I’ll know I’m truly home!

What are you looking forward to the most about your new role as President of Mercy McAuley?

I am excited to be returning to Catholic education, and I am especially excited to be returning to Catholic, Mercy education. It’s a thrill to join a community dedicated to preparing young women for lives of leadership in the Mercy tradition. I look forward to connecting with students, families and alumnae who recognize the need for “Women of Mercy” in our world today.

I’m also excited about working with a team of outstanding staff and faculty. The Mercy McAuley team has a lot to be proud of and a lot to be grateful for, including the accomplishments of our students in the classrooms, in the studios, on the stage, on the court and on the field as well as the accomplishments of our alumnae in their personal and professional lives. I can’t wait to share and celebrate those stories.

I am humbled to be standing on the shoulders of giants who came before me, including the Sisters of Mercy and the teachers who built in me a sense of purpose and a foundation of leadership. I can’t believe I have the opportunity to continue this legacy, to be a part of the tradition of equipping young women to “bring compassionate change to the world.”

What will your priorities be during your first year serving as President?

Fully implement Mercy McAuley’s strategic plan. It may not be the most glamorous work, but it’s critical work — and it will take Mercy McAuley to the next level of excellence.

Support the mission of the Sisters of Mercy. The Mercy charism is as relevant and inspirational as ever, and it unites us — Mercy McAuley students and families, staff and faculty, alumnae and supporters — as a community. And yet, it’s easy to take this Mercy charism for granted. Having been away for more than 15 years, I have a renewed appreciation for the fact that we have a Sisters of Mercy high school right here in Cincinnati. I am eager to help bring the Mercy mission to life in new and unique ways.

Connect with alumnae. The Mercy McAuley alumnae network is 24,000+ strong. That is a lot of alumnae! For our current students, there is tremendous value in connecting with alumnae who represent a diversity of experiences and perspectives. My goal is to help build and foster those connections so that our students have a support system that will serve them during their Mercy McAuley years and beyond.

Celebrate success. The Class of 2022 will be the first class to have completed all four years at Mercy McAuley High School. This is a wonderful milestone for the Mercy McAuley community, representing hard work by our students, tireless dedication of our faculty and staff, and increasing support of alumnae.

What are three things you would like the Mercy McAuley community to know about you?

1. It’s our calling to be welcoming and invitational. My favorite Scriptural passage is Matthew 25: 35. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” We have a responsibility to welcome and love every person as we would welcome and love Christ. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

2. Courage and creativity are my favorite attributes in a team. Coming from higher education, I know that colleges are looking for students who aren’t afraid to be bold and original in their thinking; they know that these students are the game-changers. We have to ask ourselves, how are we modeling this for students? During the pandemic, we all had to flex our creative muscles and find new ways to inspire our students and each other. As exhausting as the pandemic has been (and it has been tiring!), we now have the chance to parlay any newfound innovation into exciting opportunities for our students. This is a great time to be courageous and creative!

3. I have a loud laugh. You’ll probably hear my laugh from down the hall. Don’t be alarmed.

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