Through the extraordinary generosity of Cathleen Barnier’s
family and friends, the Leopold Schepp Foundation established its first endowed scholarship, The Cathleen
Fitzgerald Barnier Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will honor Cathleen Barnier’s life-long service in the field of social work. When fully funded, it will be awarded to a Schepp Foundation Scholar with a preference given to a student pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work or planning a career in social work.
Cathleen was a Schepp Scholar from 1964 to 1966. In her original application to the Foundation in 1964, Kathleen wrote: “It is a social worker’s responsibility to respect the integrity and dignity of those individuals with whom they work, to assist them in attaining their self-fulfillment and
personal satisfaction simultaneously advancing the wellbeing of society.” For the next 46 years, Cathleen devoted her energy and career to enhancing the welfare of others and promoting the quality of life for all people.
The following is an excerpt from an article published in the Press Democrat on October 23, 2009.
Cathleen Barnier, a retired Goodwill Industries executive who
for over a decade helped find stories of needy people for The
Press Democrat’s yearly Helping Hands holiday appeal, died
Thursday at her home outside Santa Rosa. She was 70.
Barnier helped organize the participating nonprofits for the
Helping Hand series, which began in 1986. She was then
the chief executive officer for the Family Service Agency
of Sonoma County. She continued bringing together the
agencies and helping find stories of people in need when
she became CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Redwood
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Barnier lived most of her childhood
in Old Greenwich, Conn., in a subdivision that her husband
said was developed by boxing champion James Joseph
Barnier graduated from the University of Vermont in 1962
and obtained a Master’s degree in social work from Smith
College in 1966. She later completed the executive
management program at Yale School of Organization and
Management. While attending the Tuck School of Business
at Dartmouth College, she met her future husband. The
couple married in 1970.
Barnier’s first job here was as a social worker at the Sonoma
Developmental Center in Eldridge. She went on to become a
service director for the American Cancer society, then served
a decade each at the Family Service Agency and Goodwill.
At retirement, she oversaw an agency with 182 employees
serving Sonoma and five other counties. The nonprofit’s
annual revenues of $8.7 million had tripled during her
Her community involvement included the county’s Workforce
Development Board, Business Education Roundtable,
Economic Vitality Project and School to Career program,
as well as the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. She
graduated from the chamber’s Leadership Santa Rosa
program and belonged to the Santa Rosa Rotary.