ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Kerry Alys Robinson, an expert in Catholic leadership and philanthropy, will serve as the next president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
When Robinson begins her tenure at the national umbrella organization on Aug. 23, she will be the second layperson and second woman to guide the domestic humanitarian work of the Catholic Church in the United States. Robinson will succeed Dominican Sister Donna Markham, who is retiring this summer after nine years at the helm.
“Kerry’s entire professional life has been devoted to serving and bettering our church,” said Neal Black, chairman of the CCUSA board of directors.
After a national search, the board voted unanimously “and enthusiastically” to appoint Robinson to the vital role, Black said.
“We are confident that the Catholic Charities network and the millions of vulnerable people it serves each year will greatly benefit from Kerry’s extraordinary passion, expertise and insight,” Black explained.
Robinson serves currently as an executive partner of Leadership Roundtable, an influential organization of laity, religious and clergy working together to promote best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications and human resource development of the Catholic Church in the U.S. She has led Leadership Roundtable since its inception, serving as its founding executive director and playing a defining role in its growth and success. Robinson also is executive director of the Opus Prize Foundation, which awards an annual million-dollar prize honoring those whose ministry is dedicated to alleviating human suffering.
“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.”
A major focus of Robinson’s work at Leadership Roundtable has been helping the Church avail itself of the expertise of the laity, assisting in the training and formation of ordained, religious and lay leaders, and helping Church leaders solve complex, contemporary challenges. At the invitation of the Vatican, she also has advised the Church on how to empower and engage women leaders. With her appointment as CCUSA president and CEO, Robinson will now hold one of the most impactful and visible roles in the Church in the U.S.
“I have known Kerry Robinson for many years,” said Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio. “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. 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.”
Robinson also has deep roots in Catholic philanthropy. A member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities and the group Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, she 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 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Prior to her current roles, Robinson served as the director of development for St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University. She led a $75 million fundraising campaign to expand and endow the Chapel’s intellectual and spiritual ministry and construct a Catholic student center. At Yale, she also co-founded ESTEEM, a program that prepares Catholic college students for leadership in their future parish communities.
A sought-after Catholic writer and speaker, Robinson is the prize-winning author of “Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Service.” Her work also has appeared in America Magazine, Chicago Catholic and other leading Catholic publications, and she has been quoted extensively in the Catholic and national media.
“CCUSA is truly blessed to welcome Kerry Robinson as its next CEO,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, episcopal liaison to CCUSA. “No doubt Kerry’s vast experience and skills will be an asset to both the organization and those whom it serves. Please join me in prayer that the Lord may grant her wisdom and zeal as she takes up her new leadership responsibilities.”
Robinson is set to join CCUSA during a period of growth. It’s a membership organization that 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.
“I could not be more pleased that Kerry Robinson is stepping into this role that has meant so much to me,” Sister Donna said. “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.”
Robinson is a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Divinity School. She has been awarded seven honorary doctorates and is the recipient of numerous awards including: the Sapientia et Doctrina Award from the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University; the Hearts of the Community Award from the Apostles of the Sacred Heart; the Madonna Della Strada Award from the Ignatian Volunteer Corps; the Cardinal Bernardin Award from Catholic Common Ground Initiative at Catholic Theological Union; and the Loyola Medal from St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. She also was named the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving’s Distinguished Visitor at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Robinson is married to Dr. Michael Cappello, chair of the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health and a professor of pediatrics and microbial pathogenesis at Yale School of Medicine. They have two children, Christopher and Sophie.