In a lifetime, we travel many paths that intersect and define our lives in meaningful ways. We may not always understand these intersections at first, but eventually we see the connections and how they play out in our purpose and the lives we touch.
This is the story of Karin Arentzen Stahl M’73 and her husband, Bill Stahl. Karin and Bill, long–time philanthropists and volunteers, support many educational institutions, organizations, and their church. Fifteen years ago, they began a new journey of giving that eventually led them to The Women’s Advancement Initiative.
In 2002, Karin and Bill lost their daughter Kristina to an anxiety disorder and suicide, while she was in treatment. Kristina, who taught English and coached three sports at Kingswood Oxford, was loved and respected by all who knew her. “She was a natural leader,” says Bill.
After Kristina’s death, Karin and Bill’s priorities and goals took on a very personal and more focused mission in Kristina’s memory, to help educate young people, mental h ealth professionals, educators, and parents about anxiety and suicide. This included lectures on suicide and a book by Karin, The Option: a memoir of suicide, mystery and finding our way, to help parents and educators help young people manage the issues of anxiety.
They also established the Kristina Stahl Creative Writing Fund at Colby College and the Teacher Development Fund at Kingwood–Oxford, to support the professional development and mentoring of new teachers.
While Karin was serving on the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation Board and Bill was volunteering on Aurora’s
investment committee, a new crossroad presented itself. They learned of an Aurora grant to The Women’s Advancement Initiative’s LEAD program and became interested in learning more.
“LEAD seemed a natural fit,” says the couple. Karin became involved with LEAD, teaching a negotiation and conflict management workshop, participating in mock–interviews, and the seniors’ five–year–plan presentations, and now developing a speakers’ boot camp.
“Kristina would have loved being a part of LEAD,” says Karin. The couple are now LEAD sponsors, something very special to them. Karin and Bill see LEAD as “connecting in so many deep ways” to their path and to their purpose in supporting young women.