Many of us knew Dorothy Ettling as inspiration in our field. She was a faculty member at Incarnate Word University in San Antonio, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and a founder of the Women’s Global Connection (see their post at the end of this message).
I am sharing what follows on behalf of Elizabeth Kasl.
From Elizabeth Kasl:
With great sadness, I learned of Dorothy Ettling’s passing. She was my colleague and friend. I’d like to share something about the ways in which I appreciate her.
She had just finished her Ph.D. at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, when Dorothy was hired as faculty by the Women’s Spirituality program at CIIS (California Institute of Integral Studies, in San Francisco). When that program underwent a reorganization that required personnel changes, the Transformative Learning doctoral program became the lucky beneficiary. Dorothy joined our faculty and I had the pleasure of learning to know her and to develop an ever-deepening appreciation for what an extraordinary person she was.
I knew Dorothy in many different contexts, some of them intimate. Formally, we were colleagues who worked together at curriculum development and on dissertation committees. Our faculty, in various small sub-groups, also engaged in many activities that were disconnected from our formal CIIS roles and responsibilities. A few of us formed a book group, which met monthly for about four years. Later, a small subgroup created a cooperative inquiry project in which we sought to improve our capacities for dealing with racism and white privilege. A larger group, including some student teaching fellows, formed the Transformative Learning Collaborative. Our Collaborative, without institutional support, sponsored the 2nd International Conference in Transformative Learning in 1999. Dorothy was our group’s clear choice to co-chair the planning committee; we knew we could depend on her wisdom to inspire others and guide the project to successful fruition. When Dorothy was a graduate student, she collaborated with other students to create a research methodology called Organic Inquiry. Dorothy felt that Organic Inquiry would have greater integrity and credibility if she became more skilled in situating it theoretically in relation to other methods. She asked me if I would coach her toward that goal.
My appreciation for Dorothy is grounded in these shared experiences.
She exuded a gentle love of people that made each one feel treasured. I cannot count the number of times she mentioned a special trait in someone that showed her appreciation for the individual’s unique gifts or her compassion for difficulties being negotiated. She was a leader with a soft, always-calm, nondirective presence whose perfect timing could move a group in unexpected ways. She was reflective and often intense. She was humble. Sometimes mischievous. Her ready smile and easy laughter showed her love of people and zest for life.
Dorothy cared deeply about finding special opportunities for her students’ development outside formal course work. She helped place countless students into research and community opportunities that were not associated with their formal studies.
Above all, Dorothy was passionate about social justice and equity. She keenly felt a personal mission to help women develop and thrive. It was that devotion to mission that led her to return to Texas. Dorothy loved living in the San Francisco Bay Area, but after several years of trying to develop her vision for serving women, she realized that she was unable to rally the kind of support that she would be able to develop in her community in Texas. We were sad to lose her, but watched with admiration as she and Neomi developed the programs that grew into Women’s Global Connection. It is a signature achievement, marked with the passion of this grand woman who could kindle in others similar enthusiasm and devotion.
I will miss her, as will many around the world. And, she leaves behind a great legacy.
Sister Dot Ettling
As so many of you know, Sr. Dorothy “Dot” Ettling, the co-founder of Women’s Global Connection, suffered two sudden strokes recently and had been at the Christus Sister Mary Hospice Center these last several days. This morning, she passed away peacefully.
Sister Esther Buberwa, headmistress of the Hekima secondary school for girls in Tanzania — who was touched by Dot’s empowerment ministry — put it well, saying Dot has “united the women of the world.” We are in prayers over the promise that this glorious legacy lives on through the organization she nurtured and loved, WGC.
In this time, we’d like to announce that in the weeks before her passing, Dot was so very excited about helping create a fund that would aid those with financial need in traveling on WGC immersion trips to Africa and Peru. The fund was to be in her fellow WGC cofounder’s name, Neomi Hayes, who is recovering from a hip procedure and will be cycling off our WGC board soon. We now are renaming it also in Dot’s honor as the “Ettling-Hayes Immersion Trip Fund.”
Donations to the fund or in Dot’s name may be made online athttp://cts.vresp.com/c/?WomensGlobalConnecti/790df60568/d4e39dc96b/423185c4beat “Donate Now” or mailed to WGC at PO Box 34833, SAT, 78265. We also will be in touch as soon as possible about the planned services. Our Facebook page is being updated, too, if you’d like to keep in touch that way.