NEW YORK – Kerry Alys Robinson, a veteran in Catholic nonprofit leadership, was announced July 25 as the next Catholic Charities USA president and CEO, becoming only the second layperson and second woman to lead the U.S. Catholic Church’s largest charitable network.
Robinson joins CCUSA from Leadership Roundtable, a Catholic nonprofit organization that promotes best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications, and human resources development of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
Robinson will begin her tenure at CCUSA on August 23. She replaces Dominican Sister Donna Markham, the first woman to lead CCUSA, who is retiring this summer after nine years at the helm.
Neal Black, Chair of the CCUSA Board of Directors, highlighted in a statement Robinson’s career-long devotion to serving and bettering the church, adding that both the organization and those it serves “will greatly benefit from Kerry’s extraordinary passion, expertise and insight.”
Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States who has known Robinson for years, said in a statement that Robinson brings both a love for Christ and wide experience to the role.
“She is a woman of the Church and brings to CCUSA her love for Christ and wide experience of engagement with the Gospel, particularly concern for the poor and vulnerable,” Pierre said in a statement. “Kerry has a great ability to build relationships. I am sure her many gifts and talents will further the CCUSA mission and bring hope to the many people served.”
Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, the episcopal liaison to CCUSA, added in a statement that the organization is “truly blessed” to welcome Robinson as its next CEO.
“No doubt Kerry’s vast experience and skills will be an asset to both the organization and those whom it serves,” Dewane said. “Please join me in prayer that the Lord may grant her wisdom and zeal as she takes up her new leadership responsibilities.”
Robinson has been with Leadership Roundtable for 18 years. First as its founding executive director, then as global ambassador and as executive partner. Leadership Roundtable announced July 25 that in light of her new appointment, Robinson will transition to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors.
Robinson is also the current director of the Opus Prize Foundation, which offers an annual million dollar prize for faith-based social entrepreneurship.
Prior to her current roles, Robinson served as the director of development for Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University. While at Yale, Robinson also co-founded ESTEEM, a program that prepares Catholic college students for leadership in their future parish communities.
Robinson is also active in Catholic philanthropy. She’s a member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities and Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, and has been an advisor to and trustee of more than 25 grantmaking foundations, charitable nonprofits and family philanthropies. She served for 15 years on the national committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Robinson said in a statement that she is “deeply honored and profoundly humbled” for the appointment.
“The gospels call Catholics and all people of good will to serve those most in need of our aid,” Robinson said. “The staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities agencies around the country answer that call every day: feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted and welcoming the stranger.”
“I am deeply honored and profoundly humbled to be a part of this life-giving mission,” she added.
Robinson joins CCUSA amidst a period of growth with Markham at the helm. The organization currently represents the interests of Catholic Charities’ 167 member agencies that serve more than 15 million vulnerable people annually at close to 3,900 locations across the country and its five territories.
Markham said in a statement that she “couldn’t be more pleased” that Robinson is her replacement.
“I am confident that her visionary leadership, devotion to the Church and sincere commitment to serving those in need will bring out the best in our staff, volunteers and supporters,” Markham said.
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg