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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

July 18, 2011

Sister Berta Sailer to deliver summer commencement address

Sister Berta Sailer

Sister Berta Sailer

MARYVILLE, Mo. - Sister Berta Sailer, co-founder of Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City and the 2010 Greater Missouri Woman of the Year, will address Northwest Missouri State University students and their families during the University's summer commencement ceremony Thursday, July 28.

The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in Bearcat Arena. More than 300 students are scheduled to graduate.

"We are delighted Sister Berta will be with us for our summer commencement ceremony," Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. "She is a tireless example of a Missourian who identifies an issue and addresses it head on, and she exemplifies the can-do spirit and leadership traits we see in our Northwest students and graduates."

Sister Berta Sailer is the co-director of Operation Breakthrough, a not-for-profit agency that provides childcare and a broad range of social services for working-poor families in Kansas City.

Sister Berta and Sister Corita Bussanmas founded Operation Breakthrough in 1971 in response to pleas from central city parents who wanted quality care and education for their children. It has grown into the largest single-site childcare center in Missouri, caring each weekday for more than 600 children who come to Operation Breakthrough from homeless shelters, foster homes and struggling single-parent families. In addition to early childhood education and enrichment activities for school-age children, Operation Breakthrough provides medical and dental care, mental health services, tutoring, mentoring, parenting education, a food pantry, emergency aid and case management for families in crisis.

For nearly 40 years, Sisters Berta and Corita have advocated for Kansas City children in need at local, state and national levels. And when their day of work is done at Operation Breakthrough, the sisters take the children home with them. Sister Berta and Sister Corita are licensed foster parents and are raising four children whom they have adopted, ranging in age from 8 to 17.

The Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation named Sister Berta its 2010 Woman of the Year, which recognizes a Missouri woman who has shown outstanding leadership and served as a role model and inspiration for other women.

For more information on Northwest's summer commencement ceremonies, go to

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468