Kate (Catherine Ellen) Mahoney, 61, a former executive director of Evanston-based PEER Services, died on Feb. 17 of mesothelioma.

Mahoney graduated from Northwestern University where she studied sociology and women’s studies and worked on the feminist journal, Mountain Moving.

She obtained a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan, and then began a life of service, seeking to improve people’s lives directly through counseling and education, but also more broadly through social reform.

At the heart of her work was her desire to remove the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder and mental illness, as well as to address other public health and social issues.

She helped build PEER Services in Evanston into a premier organization that provides prevention services and treatment for substance abuse disorder to Evanston and nearby communities. She was with PEER for more than 30 years, the last 25 years as its executive director.

For the past several years, Mahoney served as executive director of the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health Education at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

There, she worked to increase awareness and share intervention strategies for mental health issues, helping to erase the stigma attached to mental illness and suicide.

She is survived by her brothers, Steve Mahoney (Sally Swiss) and Brian Mahoney (Dr. Kathleen Mahoney) and her sister, Laura Mahoney as well as by nephews Reid, Mark, Dylan, Clark and Colin Mahoney.

For those who would like to make a memorial gift, the family supports the following: The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 325 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60654; Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, 1615 L Street NW, Suite 430, Washington, DC 20036, and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Cancer Survivorship Center, 1999 Dempster St., Park Ridge, IL 60068.

A memorial gathering to celebrate Kate’s life is being planned for Spring or Summer 2021 when pandemic protocols allow for a safe celebration. For information about those plans, contact Laura Mahoney at laura_a_mahoney@hotmail.com.

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