Location: Chicago, IL

Job Title: Project Management Office Lead

Organization: BMO Harris Bank

Education: University of Notre Dame

Degree: Accounting and Theology

Samantha Povlock, GIVEN ’16

“I will never be able to fully explain the gift that GIVEN has been to my own life, family, and happiness – the gift of becoming more fully myself and of seeing the fruit of my gifts, that I didn’t know need to be shared with the world.” – Samantha Povlock

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

I‘m a big family Midwesterner who has been transplanted to the city of Chicago for the past five years. My Polish side has given me a great love for game nights, and my Italian side gifted me with a love of pasta, ice cream, and wine. Fun fact: I’m such a math nerd that I used to try to make algebra problems out of my family’s addresses and phone numbers.

Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

I‘m a big believer that God doesn’t give you a “divided” vocation. He has a plan for how all your gifts, talents, and calls fit together. You really have to discern one thing at a time and follow what gives you peace. Right now, my husband and I both work at a bank in downtown Chicago, and our toddler goes to a daycare that he loves. My husband is pursuing a part-time MBA so I spend many evenings working on my GIVEN action plan, FemCatholic.

“I‘m a big believer that God doesn’t give you a ‘divided’ vocation. He has a plan for how all your gifts, talents, and calls fit together.”

I’m passionate about women’s advancement and find a lot of joy being involved in corporate women’s initiatives. The importance of being involved was reiterated to me recently when I learned that my company’s twelve week paid maternity leave policy was only created after a few women in the internal women’s resource group took the initiative to benchmark comparable companies and pitch the policy to Human Resources. That really inspired me to think about the changes we are all called to work for, to make the world better for women and families wherever we are. Sometimes it really just takes someone taking the initiative to make change for the better.

What women inspire you, and why?

My mom inspires me because she has spent her entire life selflessly caring for others – first as a stay-at-home-mom and now as a grandma and daughter of an elderly parent. She’s the reason I am who I am today.

St. Gianna inspires me because she accepted God’s will for her life to become a working mom instead of a religious missionary. Even though she didn’t understand the impact she would have through the witness of her life, she humbly sacrificed her own desires to say yes to where God needed her at that time.

Even though she didn’t understand the impact she would have through the witness of her life, she humbly sacrificed her own desires to say yes to where God needed her at that time.”

Women of the Catholic Women’s Forum like Erika Bachiochi, Helen Alvaré, Deborah Savage, Catherine Pakulak, Mary FioRito and Mary Hasson inspire me by the witness of their lives working to be mothers and also serve the Church through their incredible professional gifts and voices.

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

My mom is still a huge source of support to me, and is the person I call for advice about parenting, personal relationships, and life in general. She is ever willing to just be there to listen to me.

“She is ever willing to just be there to listen to me.”

My fellow working mom friends, though most are long distance, are a huge source of support to me sharing in the struggles of daily life as a young millennial working mom. My many single friends are a huge source of sanity for me too. They come by to visit when I’m corralling a toddler, or babysit to give my husband and I the chance to get out.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

“Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”                                                                         – St. Pope John Paul II, quoting Edith Stein at her canonization

What were your key takeaways from the 2016 GIVEN Forum?

The qualities that make me feel different (and sometimes really distant) from other people are truly gifts from God that He wants and needs me to “lean into” and use! Your gifts and struggles both point to your unique vocational call.

Your gifts and struggles both point to your unique vocational call.”

For example, in college I felt crazy for being both a business and theology major, while also taking gender studies classes. No one else was doing that! I then took a secular job, but still had a heart for theology. I got married and pregnant and initially thought family life should replace any of my other desires. In fact, all the realities of my work and family life have given me the platform and perspective to pursue the dream of launching FemCatholic.  It’s the most unique balance, but it fits me so well.

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.

My GIVEN action plan was to create a platform to reconcile the messages of empowerment in feminism with the truth of Catholic teaching. In his Letter to Women, St. Pope John Paul II acknowledged the oppression and discrimination women have faced throughout history, and says “the secret to making speedy progress in achieving full respect for women” will be through “an effective and intelligent campaign for the promotion of women.” FemCatholic was meant to respond to this call through first growing an online following, and then manifesting in an annual conference.

“My GIVEN action plan was to create a platform to reconcile the messages of empowerment in feminism with the truth of Catholic teaching.”

The three-fold goal of FemCatholic is to educate people on what the Church actually says about women, encourage women to explore the tough questions with how to live out Church teachings, and empower women to bring their feminine gifts to the Church and the world.

I will never be able to fully explain the gift that GIVEN has been to my own life, family, and happiness – the gift of becoming more fully myself and of seeing the fruit of my gifts, that I didn’t know need to be shared with the world. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will continue to use this work, because women matter so much – in the world, and the Church.