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Lincoln Award to honor Sr. Margarita Brewer, Kathryn Merchant

University Marketing + Communications 

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Sister Margarita M. Brewer has worked to strengthen and empower Greater Cincinnati’s Latino community through the Sisters of Charity. Kathryn E. Merchant has worked to unite the region’s giving community as CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

On Tuesday, June 23, both women will receive Northern Kentucky University’s 24th annual Lincoln Award for their contributions to the community, NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns announced Thursday.

“Sister Margarita and Kathy Merchant have each made our community stronger and more vibrant, and I am pleased to recognize their remarkable accomplishments,” he said.

The award is given annually to individuals who exemplify the qualities of outstanding citizenship, notable achievement, and distinguished service in their professions. The award is co-sponsored by the University and the NKU Foundation, Inc.

The women join previous Lincoln Award recipients such as Carl H. Lindner, the late Cincinnati Reds CEO; Rich Boehne, E.W. Scripps Co. CEO and NKU Regent; William P. Butler, Corporex Cos. CEO; and Judith G. Clabes, newspaper publisher and philanthropist.

A native of Panama, Sister Margarita Brewer left a career in architecture after her sons had grown in order to join the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and devote her life to ministering to the Latino community.

She founded the ELL (English Language Learning) Foundation, Inc. to help English language learners succeed in school while also preserving their cultural identity. She helped bring social service agencies together to serve the Hispanic population through the Su Casa Hispanic Ministry Center. And she coordinated services for English language learners at Cincinnati Public Schools.

Kathryn Merchant transformed how the region thinks about philanthropy during 18 years as president and CEO of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations. She retired last month.

Ms. Merchant established Cincinnati as a national leader in philanthropic innovations such as collective impact, while also setting a standard for how the giving community can work together to effect change. She also oversaw more than $700 million in giving during her 18 years at GCF.

The community is invited to join in honoring both women at the Lincoln Award ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23 at NKU’s James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union Ballroom.

For tickets, call 859-572-5810 or visit by June 18.

More information, including a full list of previous Lincoln Award recipients, is also available at

Sister Margarita M. Brewer

Kathryn E. Merchant