Donor Profile: Helping Dreams Take Flight

Cathy Winkler and Becky Winkler

Cathy Winkler and Becky Winkler

By Eve Becker

Becky Winkler (CSH MA ’03, PhD ’04) believes in the power of high expectations. That push to succeed explains much of her professional and philanthropic work, as she guides corporate executives and encourages students to pursue their promise.

“So much of our responsibility on this earth is to develop, nurture and grow human potential,” says Winkler, who received her master’s degree and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from DePaul.

As a corporate psychologist, Winkler works with private equity and corporate clients to build executive teams, helping to select and develop leaders. She believes in the value of human capital and the power of people.

She unlocks that power not only in her corporate clients but also in students, from grade school to college.

Winkler, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is a former board chair for KIPP North Carolina, a network of college-prep charter schools in educationally underserved communities.

“Education is one of the great — if not the greatest — equalizers in our society,” she says. “Once you have it, no one can take it away from you. It does so much to develop not only competence but also character.”

But not everyone has equal access to education, which is why Winkler established the Cathleen Ann Winkler Endowed Scholarship in the College of Science and Health at DePaul. Specifically, the scholarship supports underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Education is one of the great — if not the greatest — equalizers in our society. Once you have it, no one can take it away from you.”

The scholarship is named in honor of her mother, Cathy, who grew up in Cicero with a big heart, a love for animals and dreams of being a veterinarian. However, Cathy’s family lacked the resources to encourage her, and she never attended college.

Winkler wants to support DePaul STEM students as they follow their passions, allowing future Cathys to achieve their aspirations.

“Watching someone else’s dream never become realized motivated me to take away those obstacles for others and let those dreams take wings,” she says.

While the endowed scholarship is named after her mother, Winkler’s consulting company, Department 732c, is named in honor of her grandmother, Florence, a secretary for more than 20 years at Department 732c at Sears.

“We are a product of where we came from and who we came from,” Winkler says. “Honoring our ancestors and paying it forward by bowing backward is critical.”

A quick thinker and a quick talker, Winkler credits DePaul’s Industrial-Organizational Psychology program for giving her a strong network and professional success.

“Our cohort was unbelievably tight with each other, and we still are, even though we’ve all gone in different directions,” she says. “I’m really glad I had the support of the community I had — and, frankly, still have — from going through that program.”

As part of her work to lift people up, Winkler has been an advocate for bringing marginalized voices to the forefront, addressing inequities and breaking down barriers. She has realized that she has benefited from her experiences, and she wants to open doors for others. “It’s all about sharing my power,” she says.

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