Miller—Mary Katherine McKinney Miller, 69, on April 17, 2016, of pancreatic cancer, under hospice care at home in Philadelphia, Pa. Kathy was born on July 24, 1946, in Central City, Neb., and grew up in the Midwest as a Quaker whose father worked in race relations and conflict resolution. Her family was descended from the grandfather of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman. She attended Scattergood Friends School and Marshall University and earned a master’s degree in social work from George Washington University. She and her husband, Keith Miller, moved in 1971 to Philadelphia to become founding members of the Philadelphia Life Center, anchor community for the Movement for a New Society (MNS).
Kathy led the way in Philadelphia for Re-evaluation Counseling (RC), in which people exchange help with each other to free themselves from the effects of past distress experiences. She extended her support to many parts of the city; to other Pennsylvania communities; and to New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia, supporting RC leadership locally and internationally for over 40 years. She wrote the first women’s liberation policy for the RC communities, which included the idea—controversial in the women’s movement at the time—that men are not the enemy. She was the first editor of RC journal Sisters and led numerous workshops for women over several decades. Kathy facilitated RC Family Work co-counseling and was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Community School in West Philadelphia.
She served as president of Philadelphia NOW and of Pennsylvania NOW, working at the national level at conventions and other meetings and serving as a delegate to the first UN women’s conference in 1995. She focused both on championing women’s rights and on strengthening the internal relationships among NOW members.
In the past ten years, Kathy returned to being more active in the Quaker community. A member of Chestnut Hill Meeting in Philadelphia, she served as clerk of Peace and Social Concerns Committee and as a member of Nominating and Worship and Ministry Committees. She also clerked the local support committee for a Quaker Voluntary Service project in Philadelphia. With Victoria Greene, head of Every Murder Is Real (EMIR), which supports families who have lost children to gun violence in Philadelphia, Kathy led Healing the Hurts of Racism workshops both at Friends General Conference’s annual Gathering and at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting annual sessions.
Friends remember her for her keen mind; her ability to care fiercely and effectively about many, many people; and her commitment to justice. Her ability to listen to and engage with young people made her an especially effective ally and friend. She was particularly skilled in listening to infants and connecting deeply with these young humans on their own terms. In family support groups, she taught parents of infants and young children, mostly by example and discussion, making many families’ lives richer and closer as children grew into adulthood. She also nurtured her own son, Patrick, her niece, and other children. In the weeks before she passed much too early from this life, scores of people visited her, and during her last hours a circle of friends prayed and sang with her.
Kathy is survived by her son, Patrick Miller; his father, Keith Miller; two sisters, Judith Gibson and Barbara Haagenstad (Jeff); one brother, Ken Moree McKinney (Debra Moree); five nieces, Bridget Haagenstad Swenson, Krista Haagenstad Shafer, Amanda McKinney, Lexi McKinney Purrazzi, and Lara Gibson; and other children who considered her a second mom.