Pioneer leading the way in civic, family life


Kathy Catazaro-Perry ’99 brings her heart’s desire and much passion into serving the City of Massillon as its first female mayor.

“Thirty-two thousand residents have entrusted me to lead them,” she said. “That is a role I take very seriously.”

When she took office in 2012, there was $416.79 in the city’s bank account, and $2.6 million in unpaid bills, Catazaro-Perry said. The city’s debt was eliminated completely in January, and there is now a projected surplus.

Under her direction, Massillon also became a purple heart city, honoring men and women who have earned that distinction.

“I want our city to be the very best it can be,” said Catazaro-Perry. “I work hard to create opportunities and make it attractive to employers. I love our city and want the best for it.” 

Catazaro-Perry , an RN, finished her bachelor’s degree through Malone’s accelerated degree completion program in preparation for law school. However, life put law school on hold, when she remarried after graduation and gave birth to a daughter, Vanessa, who has Down’s Syndrome.

When the mother of now six children (she and her husband Tony also adopted a special-needs child from China) attempted to find childcare for Vanessa, she found her options extremely limited. So, with educational specialist Terry Frank, and the help of The Arc of Stark County, the trio founded the Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children in 2008, which offers childcare, education, and intervention services for children with special needs and developmental disabilities through third grade.

Catazaro-Perry’s other daughters have all enjoyed cheerleading, an activity that didn’t seem available to Vanessa. So the Pioneer mom also founded American Elite American Idols, a special needs cheerleading team that has even performed at Disney World several times.

Even with several careers under her belt, Catazaro-Perry still hasn’t ruled out law school.

“I would love to become a legal advocate for children with special needs,” she said.

Because as a Malone Pioneer, she feels prepared for anything.