Kate (Catherine Ellen) Mahoney, 61, died on Feb. 17, 2021, of mesothelioma. Kate’s entire life, including her career, was devoted to helping others.
Kate graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied sociology and women’s studies, and proudly worked on the feminist journal, Mountain Moving. She earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan, and then began a life of service, seeking to improve people’s lives directly through counseling and education, but also more broadly through social reform. At the heart of her work was her desire to remove the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder and mental illness, as well as to address other public health and social issues.
Kate began her career by helping to build PEER Services in Evanston into a premier organization that provides prevention services and treatment for substance abuse disorder to Evanston and nearby communities. Kate was with PEER for more than 30 years, the last 25 years as its executive director.
For the past several years, Kate served as Executive Director of the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. There, she worked tirelessly to increase awareness and share intervention strategies for mental health issues, helping to erase the stigma attached to mental illness and suicide. It is fitting that some of Kate’s last words were about how she wished she could be here just a little longer because there was still so much more to do.
Maureen McDonnell, executive director of PEER Services, said of Kate, “Her pioneering work in youth prevention and her tireless fight against stigma made contributions locally and nationally, setting the standard for important work that continues to this day. … Her deep understanding of recovery and the ways that community services support recovery helped a generation of leaders learn, grow, and do better.”
Nicki Pearson, a former member of the City’s Mental Health Board and of many other boards of organizations serving youth, said, “On many occasions I called on Kate for help with young people I knew who were struggling with substance abuse issues, and she always responded immediately, combining her professional expertise with kindness and sensitivity.”
Kate was very close to her family: her brother, Steve Mahoney (Sally Swiss), her sister, Laura Mahoney, and her brother Brian Mahoney (Dr. Kathleen Mahoney). Kate’s love of her siblings was matched by her love of her nephews: Brendan Mahoney (deceased), Dr. Reid Mahoney, and Mark, Dylan, Clark and Colin Mahoney. She truly would have done anything for them. She was preceded in death by her loving parents, Myrna (nee Rasmussen) and George Mahoney.
Kate had a wide network of friends, colleagues, mentors and mentees, so please share this with them.
For those who would like to make a memorial gift, the family supports the following: The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 325 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60654 (http://naomiruthcoheninstitute.org/); Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, 1615 L Street NW, Suite 430, Washington DC 20036 (http://www.curemeso.org); and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Cancer Survivorship Center, 1999 Dempster St., Park Ridge, IL 60068.
A memorial gathering to celebrate Kate’s life is being planned for Spring or Summer 2021, when pandemic protocols allow for a safe celebration. If you would like to be informed of that celebration, please reach out to Laura Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org and the family will contact you with details.