The Charger Blog

Executive Director of International Services is Passionate about Art, Volunteer Work

Meet Kathy Kautz de Arango, executive director of the University’s Immigration Services, whose office is filled with treasures that her students have brought her from around the world.

October 21, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Kathy Kautz de Arango
Kathy Kautz de Arango with her husband and daughters at a soccer match between Mexico and Jamaica.

The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about him or her – beyond their day to day work.

Next up is Kathy Kautz de Arango, executive director of the University’s Immigration Services office.

Renee Chmiel: Who are your heroes?
Kathy Kautz de Arango: I admire people who stand up for democracy and social justice, even when it is an unpopular thing to do, including Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Malala Yousafzai. I am sure there are people right now fighting for immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, and MeToo who are being given a bad rap, but, later, the "arc of the moral universe" (as Dr. Martin Luther King said) will bend back their way.

"I admire people who stand up for democracy and social justice, even when it is an unpopular thing to do."Kathy Kautz de Arango

RC: What’s your most valuable possession?
KK: If you visit my office, you will see shelves with artifacts from around the world. Most are small souvenirs that my students have given me from their home countries throughout my 20 years of working with international students. My favorite is a plastic vuvuzela from the 2010 World Cup that was brought back by a South African student who went to one of the games while home on summer break. I have long been a soccer fan, and I happily serve as staff liaison for the Chargers men’s soccer team, half of which are international students. If you go to a home game at Kathy Zolad Stadium, you’ll probably find me there cheering them on.

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Kathy Kautz de Arango (left) and her family after her husband received the Ohtli Award.

RC: What was your favorite subject in school?
KK: My favorite subject was art, and I actually was a K-12 art teacher before I forayed into international education. I’m still an artist. In my free time when the creative juices flow, I repurpose old things into new things, mostly fabric and fiber arts and mixed media. For example, I crafted a quilt from embroidered Mexican dresses.

RC: Where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?
KK: I grew up in central Pennsylvania as the youngest of three siblings. My parents are still living in Lancaster, PA, as is my eldest brother. I have another brother in Chicago. Counting nieces, nephews, and in-laws, I have family in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Newark, Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, Ithaca, San Jose, Aguascalientes, and San Luis Potosi. The latter two cities are in Mexico where my husband and both of our daughters were born. My husband and I met when we were both faculty members at a university in Mexico City.

My husband, Obed Arango, is now an adjunct faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of a nonprofit organization we founded in Montgomery County, outside of Philadelphia. We have two daughters. Our older daughter, Haruko, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in emergency medicine. She is working as a paramedic in Pittsburgh as she applies to medical schools. Our younger daughter, Christy, is a senior at the University of Delaware where she is in the World Scholars program and studies public policy.

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Kathy Kautz de Arango at a Diwali event hosted by the University’s Indian Student Council.

RC: Do you do any volunteer work?
KK: My husband and I started a nonprofit organization in the greater Philadelphia area ten years ago that seeks to increase the positive contributions of Latinx immigrants to the local community by empowering the Latinx community through the promotion of culture, art, work training, and education.

The Centro de Cultura Arte Trabajo y Educacion (CCATE) now serves more than 250 families and has been recognized by the State of Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and the Mexican Consulate in the U.S. It also won the esteemed Ohtli Award. I like to say that my husband and I birthed two lovely daughters and one nonprofit organization.

In New Haven, I serve on the Board of Directors for the International Association of New Haven, promoting international, intercultural, and global understanding in the greater New Haven area.

I am also a member of NAFSA Association of International Educators and its New England regional chapter.

RC: What is your favorite meal? Who makes it best?
KK: My favorite food is Bun Cha Gio. I haven’t found a good Vietnamese restaurant in New Haven yet, but, hopefully, someone will steer me in the right direction. In the greater Philadelphia area where I am from, a restaurant called Pho Thai Nam makes a delicious version of the dish.

RC: Where would you go on your dream vacation?
KK: My dream vacation would be a river cruise on the Danube, from Amsterdam to Budapest.