Archetypes: Mary Kogut
Interview by Krystin Arneson
After almost 35 years with the organization, Mary Kogut was named president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri in November. Her career, she says, has allowed her to combine both her personal and professional beliefs—including the belief that everyone should have access to critical reproductive health and education services. In her day-to-day, Kogut oversees an agency that serves 50,000 patients annually, supported by 160 staff members and a $11 million budget for eight health centers and Planned Parenthood’s multiple divisions, including public policy, research, stewardship and education.
What is your current frame of mind? Really positive, very excited.
When and where are you happiest? When I’m doing something I really love and when I’m with people I love being around.
What is your favorite smell? I love the smell of onions simmering in olive oil.
What is one word that describes you? Fair.
What did you eat for breakfast today? Normally oatmeal, but today I splurged with an egg and homemade whole-wheat bread.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Hey!”
What is your greatest weakness? I’m time-challenged. I believe I can get anywhere in St. Louis in 20 minutes.
What trait do you most admire in others? Humor and equity.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My husband, and I love my family too.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would have been a natural redhead.
Which living person do you most admire? Hillary Clinton.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be? I would have been a dancer, like Cyd Charisse.
What is your most treasured possession? Some of the things I got from my parents, whom I miss.
What is your greatest extravagance? I think being able to spend time doing things that are kind of frivolous—like playing games.
What is your greatest fear? That I don’t reach my potential in life.
On what occasion do you lie? I don’t. I’m a really lousy liar.
Who are your favorite writers? Alice Hoffmann, because she writes about women, love, family and conflict.
Which artists do you admire most? Really good musical artists, like George Winston and Vladimir Horowitz.
What is your favorite hobby? I love to cook and I love to entertain and I love to exercise.
Where would you most like to live? If not St. Louis, the islands, especially the Bahamian chain.
Who are your heroes in real life? Strong women in my life have taught me the most— both those in my family and whom I’ve worked for.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? For a serious dinner, Abe Lincoln; for fun, the cast of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.”
What’s something interesting that you just learned? I don’t like talking about myself.
What are you most looking forward to? I’m excited about this new position, the change, continuing to move forward.
What is one thing you wish would happen? I wish women could be respected for making their own decisions and recognized as smart, autonomous, able to take care of themselves and able to do what they need to do for themselves and their families.
What is something you still want to learn? A second language. I’d like to be more proficient in Spanish and learn Italian.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? More traveling, of course.
Photo credit: Wesley Law