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Carole Herbstreit-Kalinyen '73

Retiring corporate alumna reflects on how SJA opened international doors

Carole Herbstreit-Kalinyen

By: Regina Dew, ’11

Published September 2015

Amabilidad a escala global. Kindness on a global scale. This is a vital life lesson Carole Herbstreit-Kalinyen, ‘73, Director of Corporate Communications at Brady Corporation, learned during her time as a student at Saint Joan Antida High School. Even before she was born, Herbstreit-Kalinyen and SJA were connected.

“My mother’s cousin was one of the Sisters of Charity,” she said. “She worked in the nursery school I attended. The way that the building was set up—half was high school and the other half was nursery school. So when we went for our nap time, we would lie on these cots and we could hear the high school students in class.”

When it came time for Herbstreit-Kalinyen to select a high school, SJA wasn’t the first school on her mind.

“My parents took my sister and I to the St. Joan open house. The gym and the stage were pretty new then, and they had a new light and sound booth there as part of their drama program which I had an interest in. I thought, ‘This is really cool.’ So I never even went to look at any other school,” she said.

Although there were many moments Herbstreit-Kalinyen gleaned as precious during her time as a student, her favorite SJA memories stem from her English teacher, Anne Guzzonato.

“I always enjoyed her classes. She taught with a passion and with humor. When I was a senior, whenever I had study hall, I would knock on the door of the faculty lounge to see if Ms. Guzzonato was there. If she was, we would sit and talk about theater and lots of other things. She really became my friend,” recalled Herbstreit-Kalinyen.

The caring teachers at SJA were more than a highlight in her high school life, they served as role models and navigators who helped guide Herbstreit-Kalinyen into adulthood.

“It wasn’t just about teaching us what there was to teach in the classroom,” she said. “It was about developing us as women, looking at what we were interested in and encouraging us to follow our hearts. And I know that continues today at SJA. While I loved my classmates and all the things we did together, my teachers all also had a very strong influence on me.”

At the time, SJA offered three specialized educational routes for its students: a college prep track, a business track which focused on secretarial skills, and a home-making studies program.

Herbstreit-Kalinyen had a career in theater in sight and had leading roles in a number of plays and musicals at SJA. But in academics she veered in the direction of the college prep track, which required a foreign language. “Two languages were offered: Spanish and French. My mother wanted me to take French, but I chose Spanish because I felt that I could use it more. French is only in a few countries but Spanish is everywhere,” she said. Learning Spanish opened new doors for her, and continues to influence her life today.

“Right after graduation, an opportunity opened up for students to travel abroad to Spain through the American Red Cross, where I was volunteering at the time,” said Herbstreit-Kalinyen. With her strong Spanish skills, she confidently ventured abroad.

After returning to the States from her experience in Spain, Herbstreit-Kalinyen attended UWM majoring in theater with a minor in Spanish. It was there that she was introduced to marketing/communications field.

“One day, one of the professors in the theater department said to me, ‘How would you like a student job? We need somebody to work in the publicity office to put out all the press releases about the shows we are doing.’ So I did that starting my junior year,” said Herbstreit-Kalinyen. “That was my first experience with more formal communications and I came to like it.”

This experience in communication played a vital role in her professional life after college. But before starting a career in the field, she decided to enter the Air Force.

“When I graduated in 1977—the economy wasn’t great—so I fiddled around for a while, I couldn’t really find a job I liked,” she said. “A friend of mine was in the Air Force and suggested I look into that. I am proud of having been in the Air Force. I was part of what is called a Weather Flight. I would go out and do weather analysis for pilots so that they would know where not to fly. It was totally unrelated to anything else that I had done, but it was a lot of fun and I got to work with some wonderful people.”

After the Air Force, Herbstreit-Kalinyen grounded herself back into communication, a field she would remain in and contribute to for the rest of her career. As her first positon in what would be a 30-plus-year career in communications, Herbstreit-Kalinyen secured a job working in the Public Relations office for the Performing Arts Center (PAC)—now known as the Marcus Center for the Arts in Milwaukee.

“I was at the PAC for a couple of years, then I went to Mount Mary College as their marketing director for ten years. After Mount Mary, I went to Brady Corporation where I’ve been now for 18 years,” she said. Starting as the public relations manager, she was one of seven people in corporate communications at Brady, a global manufacturer of identification and safety products. Her role at the company quickly expanded with more and more responsibilities until she was promoted to Director of Corporate Communications.

Through Brady Corporation, Herbstreit-Kalinyen has had the opportunity to visit countries all around the globe. “I was lucky to provide communication support for Brady’s opening of facilities in China, Mexico, and Brazil and I’ve also worked with teams throughout Europe and other parts of Asia,” she said.

Her love for international experiences started with her language studies at SJA.

“I think we live in a global society, so studying a foreign language can be very helpful in business,” Herbstreit-Kalinyen stated. “It may not be something you use every day on your job but I think it helps you to connect with other people and other cultures in a more significant way.”

Specifically, Herbstreit-Kalinyen works on both internal and external communications at Brady, responsible for sharing and managing news about the company. Through this position, she has had many professional accomplishments.

“As I look back, some of my favorite moments included being on the global branding team that came up with the company’s tagline, ‘When Performance Matters Most,’ working behind the scenes at Brady’s opening on the New York Stock Exchange, coordinating Brady’s partnership with the Milwaukee Brewers, and serving on the Brady Corporation Foundation grants advisory team to fund programs and organizations that make our community a better place.” After nearly 20 years at Brady Corporation, Herbstreit-Kalinyen plans to retire this December. When looking at what lies ahead after retirement, she will continue with her true passion, theater.

“I am going to continue to do theater with Off the Wall Theatre, a small theater production company here in Milwaukee,” she said. “I am also interested in volunteering, and traveling of course.”

Herbstreit-Kalinyen has remained actively involved in the SJA community for many years, including playing a crucial role in helping SJA secure a major grant from Brady Corporation that helped launch the HUGE Futures, Girls in Engineering program. And finding opportunities to connect with former classmates and teachers is a special treat for her.

In June 2013, Herbstreit-Kalinyen along with some of her former classmates and Spanish teacher Mr. Daniel Zeidler, gathered together for a small picnic reunion at her home. “We got together for the visit of Lola Zaldivar, who was a foreign exchange student from Chile in our class at St. Joan’s,” she recalled. “It was so much fun to get together. We hadn’t seen each other in 40 years, but in today’s digital age it is easier to connect. And St. Joan’s in many respects is family, no matter the time passed or physical distance.”

One quote Herbstreit-Kalinyen lives by comes from the Greek tragedy “Hippolytus.” It goes, “We know what we ought to do, we simply do not do it.” She explained, “That is one of my favorite quotes because I think it explains the human condition very well, and emphasizes personal responsibility. That’s something the Sisters and other teachers emphasized – no other excuses, we know what we are supposed to do, what is right and what is wrong, and it’s up to each of us to make the right choice as best we can every day."