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Civic leader, volunteer Michie Bissell ‘64 to be honored by Loyola

By Loyola University on Tue, 02/14/2023 - 16:43

(New Orleans - February 14, 2023) This spring, the Loyola University New Orleans Alumni Association honors a cherished alumna and civic leader with one of its highest honors, bestowing the 2023 Adjutor Hominum Award on Catherine “Michie” McHardy Bissell ‘64, a French Quarter resident.

She will be honored next month alongside 2023 Young Alumnus of the Year Award recipient Benjamin J. Fields, at the 2023 Alumni Association Jazz Brunch, a ticketed event to be held at the Audubon Tea Room from 11 to 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. All are welcome.

The Adjutor Hominum Award honors an outstanding Loyola graduate whose life exemplifies the values and philosophy of a Jesuit education - namely, moral character, service to humanity, and unquestionable integrity.

“The mission of Loyola University New Orleans is to prepare our students to live meaningful lives of service with and for others, to pursue wisdom, truth and virtue, and to work for a more just world,” said the Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J., interim president of Loyola. “Michie exudes kindness and strength as she serves the world around her, with characteristic wit and charm.”

Bissell, who graduated in 1964 from the university’s former School of Dental Hygiene, worked for nearly 30 years as a dental hygienist, as well as a community affairs specialist for the Regional Transit Authority, before her retirement. She currently serves on the Loyola University New Orleans Board of Trustees and is a newly appointed member of the advisory board of the university’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, where she has inspired alumni and friends through a fundraising campaign designed to support the prison education program at Loyola.

Her volunteerism includes service as the commander of the Grand Commandry of the South, the Military and Hospitalier Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, board president of the St. Jude Community Center, outgoing president of the Southern Dominican Province Advisory Board, and member of the parish council of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. She is also a member of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Patio Planters, the Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Beauregard-Keyes House.  In 2019 the Southern Dominican Province awarded Michie Bissell the St. Martin de Porres Award for selfless service to Dominican ministries for over twenty years.

She has held past leadership positions as the tri-parish chairperson of the American Cancer Society, president and co-founder of the Vendome Place Private Patrol, president and board member of the Holy Name of Jesus Parents Club, president and board member of the Lower Quarter Crime Watch, and chair and board member of the Human Relations Commission of the City of New Orleans.

The dental hygienist skills she developed at Loyola and throughout her career - as well as time spent on a Loyola Abroad program to Universidad de Iberia America in Mexico City as a student - guided her as an adult to join volunteer mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua with Trinity Episcopal Church.

For ten years, she volunteered her service to patients in these countries who had never seen a dentist, sleeping on cots in open-air porches, being awakened by roosters in the morning and working with flashlights after sunset to ensure aid to as many people as possible.

As community affairs specialist for the Regional Transit Authority, she helped to drive community engagement around the renovation of 13.6 miles of streetcar lines around the city in the 1980’s, working to solicit resident input at community meetings and responding to numerous calls. Her energy, drive and enthusiasm, a deep and abiding faith - and the Holy Spirit - drive her. 

A mother of four children, Bissell has served as an active member of the St. Martin’s Episcopal School Booster Club and the Leukemia Society Board of Directors. She even coached football and softball at the Jewish Community Center and Holy Name of Jesus School, despite having no particular training in either sport. Following Hurricane Katrina, she tied on apron strings and served residents at a local restaurant. 

“Whenever someone needed me, I just jumped in and figured it out,” she said.