Our Leadership Team

Meet our United States Provincial Team who are serving a first term together through June 2025.

2022-25 Leadership Team

Sister Jean Schafer, SDS (Sr. Mary Christopher) describes her call to religious life as a “powerful gift” that has offered her opportunities to discover and share her talents, connect with diverse people in meaningful ways, and achieve a balance of community, prayer, and service. The former international leader for Salvatorian Sisters in Rome and founder of Stop Trafficking!, a monthly publication of Alliance to End Human Trafficking, now has the responsibility of leading her U.S. Province. She says, “My role is to keep the spiritual dimension before us – the ‘why’ of our life.”

Sister Mary Lee Grady, SDS (Sr. Melanie) Vicaress, says leadership is about making difficult decisions everyone may not understand. But she explains, “It’s easier to make a hard choice if you’ve spent time listening to your fellow sisters and centering your service to the Province.” Prior to her election to the Team, Sr. Mary Lee served as co-director of New Membership – a role she will continue in tandem with her administrative responsibilities. “My commitment to New Membership is grounded in my belief in the Salvatorian way of life,” she says, “I enjoy the collaboration it brings to the Salvatorian Family.”

Outside of vocations and administrative work, her life consists of spending time with family and friends, swimming, enjoying the great outdoors, and singing in the Archdiocesan choir.

Creativity, intelligence, problem-solving, and a good sense of humor make Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS, Provincial Councilor, a qualified member of our Leadership Team. She says “… all my ministries, since early adulthood, have been ministries of service to folks ‘at the margins’ of our society, or ministries of leading organizations who serve folks ‘at the margins’… Those ministries have taught me that leadership truly benefits from teamwork and collaboration.”

As the only Team Member not based in Milwaukee, she remotely manages her responsibilities from Sisseton, South Dakota where she teaches at Tiospa Zina Tribal School. Even with her days split between science projects and Team meetings, she still finds time for computer building and repairing, photography, and service dog training.

Sister Sheila Novak, SDS, Provincial Councilor, hopes fostering a listening and gentle presence amongst her sisters will help her meet them in their current stages of life. She says, “Leadership is a call to be sister (with a small s) in the best sense of that word. Sisters are there for each other, responding to requests and needs and giving support as needed. Sisters can be counted on. It is also a forum to look ahead and name future efforts and priorities – to help shape what is yet to be.”

Sr. Sheila helped guide the global mission of Salvatorian Sisters when she served as Provincial Leader in the early 2000s. When a door opened to address the plight of women around the world, she stepped right in. Sr. Sheila’s passion to improve the quality of life for women has inspired her ministries ever since, including her work with immigrants and survivors of human trafficking.

Sister Mary Evelyn Zimbauer, SDS declares, “My desire to help people and advocate for others is engrained in me as a Salvatorian Sister and nurse.” Her sensitivity to the needs of others is a trait she developed in her 60 years of nursing. Although retired from her long-time ministry, Sr. Mary Evelyn continues to zealously serve people and her community as a Provincial Councilor on the Leadership Team, weekend on-call nurse for her fellow sisters, and first aid responder at Milwaukee events.