Meet the Federation Staff
Sr. Maryellen Kane, CSJ | Executive Director
Sr. Maryellen Kane (she/her), a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, became the executive director of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph on January 1, 2020. Prior to her role at the Federation, she served as Parish Life Coordinator at the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Queens, New York City for the last 15 years. Previous to this, she served as Pastoral Associate in a number of parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
From 1994 to 2000, she was a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY Leadership Team, coordinating their office of mission and ministry. During this time, she also served as a member of the National Board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and chairperson of the New York State Conference Region 2. Additionally she has served on the Advisory Board of the NY State Labor and Religion Coalition, National Advisory Board for New Ways Ministry, and the Governing Board of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph.
Since 1982, she has had extensive practical experience and training in Community Organizing, including Industrial Areas Foundation National Training and mentoring and supervision in action and strategies. While serving on the Pastoral Team at St. Barbara Parish in Bushwick, Brooklyn, she was a leader in East Brooklyn Congregations. While on the staff of the Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace, in conjunction with the Industrial Areas Foundation, she worked with local churches to develop broad-based community organizations in the South Bronx, East Harlem and the Westside of Manhattan.
In 1978, along with three other sisters, she co-founded Providence House Inc., houses of hospitality for homeless, abused, and formerly incarcerated women and their children. She lived as a core member in three different Providence Houses for 18 years. Her professional life began as a teacher in elementary schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and served for four years as an organizer with the United Farm Workers in California and Florida. Sr. Maryellen received her B.S. in Education and a M.A. in Pastoral Ministry, with a concentration in Social Justice/ Social Ministry from Boston College.
Kristen Whitney Daniels | Associate Director
Kristen Whitney Daniels (she/her) joined the Federation in May 2018, where she focuses on communications and justice actions for the Federation. Kristen also works for the Congregations of St. Joseph UN-NGO in New York City, focusing on communications.
Prior to working at the Federation, she worked as a freelance reporter, featured in National Catholic Reporter, Global Sisters Report, and U.S. Catholic Magazine. She was the 2016-2017 Bertelsen Editorial Intern for National Catholic Reporter, where she cultivated her reporting on the death penalty. In 2018, she won first place at the Catholic Press Awards for pro-life reporting on the death penalty and second place for best personality profile for her feature on Sister of St. Joseph Helen Prejean.
Kristen first came across the Sisters of St. Joseph after participating in the St. Joseph Worker-Los Angeles program in 2013-2014. There she worked at St. Joseph Center in Venice, California in their food pantry for low-income families and individuals. After her service year, she was hired at St. Joseph Center as a case manager for seniors experiencing homelessness.
Kristen is also a fierce healthcare advocate. She is an advocate with T1International, a group that advocates for affordable and equitable access to insulin and diabetes related supplies. She serves as co-chair of T1International’s Federal Working Group. Her testimonies have been featured on the U.S. Senate floor. In 2020, she attended the Presidential State of the Union as a guest of U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. As part of her work, she was invited to participate in the World Health Organization’s Informal Consultation with People Living With Diabetes in preparation for the launch of the Global Diabetes Compact in April 2021. She has been featured in and/or written for: BBC, Berlingske, CBS Evening News, Financial Times, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” SELF Magazine, WNPR, Hartford Courant, the Lisa Wexler Show, Connecticut Post, and more. Kristen is a proud graduate of Quinnipiac University, with a B.A. in psychology and political science.
Lisa Cathelyn | Federation Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Coordinator
Lisa Cathelyn (she/her) joined the U.S. Federation staff in August 2021 as the Federation’s first JPIC coordinator. Formed in feminism, Catholic Social Teaching, and Ignatian Spirituality, Lisa has training in trauma-informed pastoral care, preaching and presiding, bilingual prison ministry, retreat facilitation, and international immersions. Lisa traces her enthusiasm for the common good and cross-cultural connections through a semester abroad in El Salvador, agricultural research in India, teaching English in Vietnam, and a contextual course in Israel-Palestine. Lisa earned a B.A. in Spanish from Marquette University and Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. She also obtained a Women Studies in Religion certificate through the Graduate Theological Union. Prior to working at the Federation, Lisa worked as a campus minister at a Catholic, women’s college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Lisa first became familiar with the phrase “love of God and dear neighbor without distinction” as a St. Joseph Worker-Minneapolis in 2013-2014. During her time in Minnesota, she worked as a health care services navigator at a K-8 bilingual Catholic school and at a human services agency that focused on ending homelessness. One of her favorite memories was advocating at the Minnesota State Capitol for increased affordable housing funding in the state budget – all while wearing a building costume made out of cardboard.
In addition to her pastoral ministry, Lisa serves as a table host for The Dinner Party, a platform for grieving folks in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to connect with one another in life after loss. Lisa is a co-author of the book Dear Joan Chittister: Conversations with Women in the Church, a project that emerged from the inaugural Joan Chittister Institute for Contemporary Spirituality in 2018. The series of letters between Joan Chittister and millennial theologians reflect on sisterhood, speaking truth, and standing up to patriarchy. Dear Joan was a 2020 finalist in the general interest category for the Association of Catholic Publishers Awards.
Stella Torres Pessôa-D’Angelo | Administrative Assistant
Stella Torres Pessôa-D’Angelo (she/her) joined the U.S. Federation staff in October 2021. She provides support for the Federation’s day-to-day activities, including bookkeeping for all Federation accounts. She is also able to interface and support our international community, as she speaks three languages fluently (English, Portuguese, and Spanish), and is learning Italian and French, to complete all of our CSSJ international languages!
Through her travels, she developed a deep sense of justice, passion for helping others, and trying to make the world a better place. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she raised money in New York for food and health products in Sao Paulo, Brazil by selling hand-made masks with the project Helping Hands.
Stella moved to New York from Cork, Ireland where she lived for five years and received her ICM Diploma in Human Resources Management from Griffith College. Living among such an intense international and culturally mixed environment, Stella could better understand the struggles and differences that make us all one (loving God and neighbor!). While in Ireland she traveled to many places, had a summer job in Scotland, and studied Spanish in Chile. While waiting for her visa to move to the USA, she spent months volunteering and learning about Organic Farming in Italy and Portugal.
Stella was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She graduated with a degree in business management from Rio Branco University in São Paulo, with a concentration in Sustainability Reports. She also recently received her certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell. Stella is a proud wife to a farmer and proud mother of Lily Eloa, whom she lives with on Long Island.
Leadership Assembly and Council
The Federation is governed by the Leadership Assembly which is composed of all the Leadership teams from our member congregations. This group meets annually in November for direction setting and corporate responsibilities. The Leadership Council is the elected leadership team of the Federation. It is made up of 10 members plus the Federation Executive Director, Associate Director, and the Treasurer. Though the group previously consisted of only sisters and leaders, the group recently added their first non-leadership sisters (representing the youngest 7% of sisters), as well as the first non-sister to the group.
This group meets several times a year to forward the purpose and direction of the Federation, plan the annual meeting, and carry on business. Co- chairs provide leadership and relate between meetings with the Federation staff.
- Sr. Mary Elizabeth Nelsen, Orange, Co-Chair
- Sr. Marie Hogan, Congregation of St. Joseph, Co-Chair
- Sr. Shirley Ann Brown, Watertown
- Sr. Donna del Santo, Rochester
- Sr. Susan Jasko, Carondelet-St. Paul
- Sr. Cecilia Magladry, Orange
- Sr. Mary McFadden, Philadelphia
- Sr. Kari Pohl, Baden
- Sr. Lee Hogan, CSJ, Boston, Treasurer
- Sr. Maryellen Kane, Brentwood, Executive Director
- Kristen Whitney Daniels, Associate Director
The Finance Committee
The finance Committee serves the Leadership Assembly in the management of the operating budget and investments. It meets 2 – 3 time annually with the Treasurer to monitor finances, oversee investments, develop budgets, prepare finance reports for the Leadership Assembly.
The Federation is supported by:
- Membership Dues
- Investment Income
- In-kind Gifts of office space, support, hospitality, personnel, service, expertise, etc…
The U.S. Federation congregations are broken up into regions and are now a part of the formal governance structure. Business and information can flow between the regions, the Leadership Council, Executive Director, etc. Currently there are four Regions:
- Atlantic Coast: Boston, Brentwood, Philadelphia, Springfield, St. Augustine, West Hartford, and Winslow
- Lakes: Albany, Baden, Buffalo, Erie, Rochester, and Watertown
- Heartland: Carondelet Center, Concordia, Congregation of St. Joseph, St. Louis, and St. Paul
- Pacific Rim: Los Angeles and Orange
Sponsored Committees, Programs, and Projects
The Federation sponsors several Committees, Programs and Projects. Committees which are established by the Leadership Assembly/Council to promote the goals and purposes of the Federation. Membership includes sisters, associates, staff colleagues, and the meetings are hosted by congregations/provinces around the country. Some committees plan and run programs; others carry out specific tasks for us all. These are collaborative efforts, which involve substantial commitment of time on the part of project staff. Current committees, programs, and projects include:
- Canonical Novitiate Program: Sr. Michelle Lesher (Philadelphia) is the Director and Sr. Jeanne Marie Gocha (Carondelet-Albany) is the Assistant Director. You can read and learn more about the program here.
- Mission Haiti
- Vocation/Formation Personnel Program (meets bi-annual)
- Lifelong Formation
- Global Coordinating Group
- The writing of the U.S. history of the Sisters of Saint Joseph
- Finance Professionals
- Development Personnel
- Communications Personnel
- Justice and Peace Personnel
- Associate Directors
- St. Joseph Worker Community
- CSSJ Collaborative for ages 65 and younger
- Tending the Flame
Other Sisters of St. Joseph Federations
We relate to the Canadian, French, and Italian Federations, as well as the La Red Conference of Latin and South American Sisters of St. Joseph. There are Sisters of Saint Joseph in over 53 countries.
The Federation is a Civil Corporation, incorporated in Missouri and a Canonical Juridic Person.