Kathy's early years growing up in South Carolina's oldest public housing project led to her early interest in and study of poverty, class, and race in America. She studied cultural anthropology, with an emphasis on Latin America, as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, South Carolina, and then studied Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico. After becoming proficient in Spanish, Kathy conducted ethnographic fieldwork on traditional medicine in the village of Santa Catalina, Mexico sponsored by the University of South Carolina and the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). She went on to further studies in medical anthropology and international health.
Kathy attended the University of Arizona for her graduate studies and completed her Master's degree with distinction in 1990. In addition to course work in cultural, applied, and medical anthropology, her interests led to a focus on Latin American studies, political science, and women's issues. During a summer program, Kathy studied the history of Mexican peasant revolts at the University of Guadalajara, in Guadalajara, Mexico. During graduate school, Kathy became interested in the local and global socioeconomic processes that had led to the proliferation of squatter settlements along the Mexican-American border. She conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Colonia Emiliano Zapata, Nogales, Mexico, where she studied the process of land grabbing, land legalization, the political empowerment of squatters, with particular emphasis on the empowerment of women at the community and household level. The topic of her Master's Thesis was Power and Popular Protest in Colonia Emiliano Zapata, a Squatter Community in Nogales, Mexico. Kathy also completed significant additional coursework at the University of Arizona after her Master's degree.
Kathy worked as a consultant for numerous international development agencies before joining CARE in 1996. Throughout her education and career, she has emphasized the importance of addressing social inequities and a strong belief in the human spirit and its potential to change our world. She has worked and spent significant time in 33 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
Since 2003, Kathy's work has focused on development theory and underlying causes of poverty. Most recently, she led the development of the conceptual model on Unifying Framework for Poverty Eradication & Social Justice. The Unifying Framework was designed to help optimize the effectiveness of CARE's worldwide activities. The framework was immediately adopted by CARE top management, and has since been praised throughout the organization and by two successive CARE CEOs.
Kathy currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Michael Young, who is Associate Director of Environmental Systems at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. They share their life with their three furkids (dogs) -- Mika, Doc Holliday, and Neo V. They enjoy music, camping, kayaking, bicycling, and traveling the countryside.