For Kay Lynott Oursler, Marywood is definitely a family affair. Her mother, Elizabeth Vanston
Lynott ’42, was the recipient of the first Sister Denis Donegan award for service to her alma mater. Their Marywood-rooted family tree branched out to include Elizabeth’s sister Claire Vanston Durkin...and beloved science teacher, Sister Marie Lawrence Vanston, IHM... among others, including Kathryn Lynott ’52, for whom Kay was named, since she was born on Kathryn’s birthday—and in a sense, followed in her footsteps , entering the criminal justice field.
That field was still largely male territory. But Kay jumped in anyway. She worked in Philadelphia
County prisons, a half-way house for federal inmates, a pre-trial services agency, and a probation office. To her Marywood degree in comprehensive Social Studies, she added a Master’s degree in counseling from Antioch College. In 1990, she started work with the Federal Judicial Center. The FJC, coincidentally, had only come into being a few years before Kay graduated from Marywood. Its creation had been a step forward in improving the effectiveness of the judicial system, with a goal of providing research and education for individuals in the federal courts: judges, federal defenders, clerks of court, and probation and pre-trial services personnel.
“My position at the FJC gave me the opportunity to focus on doing what I could to improve the
administration of justice,” Kay says. “I consulted with and included researchers, criminal justice experts, treatment providers, and officers in advisory committees and as faculty for programs. “ She herself created such educational programs for probation and pre-trial staff with the aim of helping them protect the community, while guiding offenders to change and become more productive members of society.
“I was in a position to help shape national policy,” Kay says. “I supervised an incredible group of
dedicated educators, as we assisted with the implementation of evidence-based practices , supervision policies, and leadership/management training. It was an honor and an incredible privilege to be in that position.”
Kay retired last December, and is enjoying the time she can now spend with her husband, a
musician and retired member of the Army Field Band. Looking back on her Marywood experience, Kay writes, “My education instilled in me a belief that I could go forth and do anything. Options for my professional choices would not and should not be limited by the simple fact that I was a female. I was taught to think, to question, to take responsibility and to accept the consequences of my choices.
“My education at Marywood also taught me that all human beings are to be treated with dignity
and respect,” she continues, “...that we have the capacity to make a difference in this world...and help others change.” Kay Lynott Oursler has spent a professional lifetime dedicated to that ideal.
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