Kate Milligan has always had the spark. Being an Emmy-nominated producer, speaker, author and founder of her own company is evidence of where that spark has taken her. But even at a young age, as little as four years old, her faith, her community and making a difference mattered to Kate.
Born and raised as one of four siblings in Brighton, Michigan, Kate was the opinionated, feisty, driven kid of the Bryan family. Kate’s mom told her when she was a child that some people are simply born with a strong faith and it became evident very early on that Kate was one of those people. “Even as a little kid, I just had this little spark and this little fire for my faith,” Kate says. Her love for the faith, combined with her community-driven mindset and motivated attitude, led her to host lemonade stands for different church groups and organizations in the community. Getting involved in whatever volunteer efforts she could, Kate was determined to use her fiery spark for good. And she did.
It wasn’t long before Kate was met with significant challenges that would ultimately alter her lifestyle and go on to help shape her mission for her future company. Shortly after her younger sister Delia was born, both she and Kate were diagnosed with Hyper IgE Syndrome, also known as Job Syndrome.
Job Syndrome is a rare immune deficiency disorder that causes those who suffer from it to be highly susceptible to recurring skin infections, eczema, bacterial infections, food allergies, etc. The once fiery four-year-old Kate went to school with her eczema-ridden skin and thinning hair and was met with bullying from kids at school. Quickly, Kate didn’t feel like sharing her opinions or the answers to questions in the classroom. Her vibrance began to fade.
Kate’s mom was especially tuned in to her daughter and thought to take her out of school and get her involved in anything that would bring the light back to Kate. She got involved in Irish dancing and fell in love with the art and later, the culture. The family was active in the faith community at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Brighton through the catechism program and youth group. Kate found solace, community and healing through these outlets during her schooling years.
Unsure of what she wanted to do but still deeply interested in the faith, Kate graduated high school and went to Franciscan University in Steubenville where she graduated with a theology degree, but had no real intention of teaching or working for the Church. It was during the 2008 Presidential election when politics met Facebook that Kate couldn’t help but be totally taken by the newfound political scene.
“I was fascinated by political discourse and what was going on online. I was just obsessed with politics and why people believed what they believed and what was going on in our world, what was driving people to have an opinion,” Kate recalls. She had found her next move — a program in Dublin, Ireland where, two-and-a-half years later she would graduate with a Master in Public Affairs and Political Communication. From there, Kate worked in public relations and media both in Ireland and in Washington D.C. over the course of nearly 10 years but eventually grew disheartened and was burnt out by the D.C. political scene.
In 2018, Kate moved back to her home state of Michigan, specifically the city of Detroit. In reflecting on her time in the media, she came across Detroit’s motto in a book she was reading. It read, “There’s always hope” and “It will rise from the ashes.” “The moment that I read those two phrases, it was like a lightbulb went on,” explains Kate, “I was like I need to do something to create a space for women’s voices and their stories to be heard, their authentic voices and their authentic stories, that’s not being edited the way that the media wants, that’s not being politicized.” Out of this came 1 Girl Revolution.
1 Girl Revolution is a non-profit multimedia organization that’s dedicated to highlighting women who are changing the world. The non-profit has touched documentary-style filmmaking, podcasting, PR and Media efforts, and speaking engagements with the hope that the “platform will inspire, challenge and help to see women’s value, purpose and power to change the world.”
Since its inception five years ago, 1 Girl Revolution has moved its mission forward by highlighting over 180 unique stories from women across various fields achieving the most commendable of work. From women who are helping survivors of human trafficking, overcoming addiction, feeding the hungry, helping veterans, rescuing animals, helping kids in the foster care system, the podcast’s roster is chock full of women who are making good happen in today’s world.
Kate found joy in being able to give space to these women and inspire listeners to look inward to find their purpose. “I’m a firm believer that every single woman has a little girl inside, when we were little girls we had all these hopes and dreams and no fears and we could be anything that we wanted to be, and then things start to happen in our lives and we get older, we go through difficulties, things in our life start chipping away that little girl we were created to be, that unique person.”
In its most notable success, 1 Girl Revolution teamed up with the Chicago-based video production company, BEHOLD for what would become an Emmy-nominated documentary short, “The Girl Inside,” which featured stories from the incarcerated women in Cook County Jail and highlighted Dr. Laura Biagi’s, a former professor at DePaul University, class “Storytelling as a Healing Art.”
Kate’s passion is and has been to elevate other women’s voices, but she makes a point to recall the people throughout her life that have helped her to find and embrace her own voice.
Kate hopes and plans to continue to grow 1 Girl Revolution leaning more into advocacy, PR and educational opportunities. There are more documentary shorts in the works; one on the city of Detroit that Kate is looking forward to. For Kate personally, she’s enjoying her newlywed life in Corktown with her husband, Joe. Both parishioners at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, they’re active in the parish through ministry and try to serve their church and the surrounding community in any way they can.
Like many, Kate has had her spark dulled in her life but recognizes if we can look inward and remember the little girl we once were, we can move beyond that self-doubt and move toward leaving our unique imprint on the world. To any young girl or woman out there trying to find where to start, Kate puts it simply with one of her favorite quotes, “If a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one.”