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FLEXO Magazine : June 2014
becoming the first woman to do so; many of her accom- plishments came with the distinction of being the first woman. In 1999, FTA bestowed her with its President’s Award and that same year, the Business Journal honored her as its Business Woman of The Year. In 2007, FTA was in the midst of preparing its Technical Education Services Team (TEST) program. Its goal was to author, update and host state of the art curriculums to meet the needs of an ever changing industry. When Katherine and Ron were presented with this aim and a sound business plan, they decided to give a $1 million gift to TEST to help make the program’s vision a reality. “We believe this will prove to be one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the organization and that it will make a sig- nificant positive difference in the success and lives of both current and future flexographers,” the Harpers wrote in FLEXO® ’s October 2007 issue. “We believe that the potential for rapid dissemination of information, as envisioned in the TEST business plan, can make an unbelievable difference in the future global quality and growth of the flexographic process.” Citing specific tenets of the TEST plan such as its standardized curriculum, accreditation program for instructors and teachers and the FFTA Virtual Print Campus (now named the TEST Virtual Campus), Katherine and Ron shared FTA’s vision of bringing relevant, constantly updated education services to current and potential future flexographers. Seven years later, TEST’s successes can be directly tied to that leap of faith Katherine and Ron took. TEST is just one of many examples of their desire to inspire future generations to pursue a path in the world of flexography. The Harper name is well known in the industry, not only because of Harper Cor- poration of America’s role in its evolution but also because of these charitable endeavors. They are many and include: • Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association’s Ron And Katherine Harper Scholarship • The Harper Campus, Harper National Flexographic Center and Ron And Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund, at Central Pied- mont Community College, Charlotte, NC • The Katherine Harper Hall, at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC • The Harper Lab of Flexography, at the Flexo Trade School of Fort Mill, SC • The Ron And Katherine Harper Flexo Lab at Chicago’s DiTrolio Flexographic Institute • The Harper Endowment, at California Polytechnic State Univer- sity, San Luis Obispo, CA • The Harper Scholarship Fund and Harper Flexo Technology Wing, at Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI • The Ron And Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund and Harper Center of Graphics Technology, at Dunwoody College of Tech- nology, Minneapolis, MN • The Katherine Harper Teacher’s Education Fund, from the Phoe- nix Challenge Foundation “Katherine left a legacy in the flexographic industry,” said Harper Corporation of America’s Alex James. “Her gener- osity, along with Ron’s, has touched many lives and through their varied contributions to numerous educational institutions, she will continue to have a positive impact on edu- cation of future flexogra- phers.” FTA President Mark Cisternino, who had the chance to work with Katherine on a number of occasions throughout his career, recalls her overwhelming generosity as “one half of the greatest philanthropic couple in the history of the flexo industry.” He also points to her dynamic, strong willed personality in a time when there weren’t many females in leadership positions. “You’d think that this might be intimidating. Quite to the contrary, though—Katherine’s work routinely began when someone (usually a man) told her ‘It can’t be done.’ Her many successes in life were a direct result of this inability to sit idly by and let others call the shots,” Cisternino says. “Katherine and Ron were instrumental in establish- ing so many educational initiatives around the globe. Their significant positive impact on students of all ages cannot be overstated. I have always been honored to know that Mr. and Mrs. Harper chose to fun- nel their financial resources, time and talent through FTA and, more importantly, that they considered me their friend.” “We believe that the key to any successful endeavor—and a happy life—is education,” the Harpers said of FTA. “That is why we choose to support education in an industry that has been so good to us and to an association that has been one of the primary resources for our education during the past 54 years.” n “I am fortunate to have known and worked for Katherine. I know she and Ron are looking out over their family with a great sense of love and peace based on a job well done! ” – Paul Sharkey, President/CEO, FLXON, Inc. All photos courtesy of Harper Corporation of America 36 FLEXO | JUNE 2014