Dearing to step down as Catholic Charities head

BRAINTREE -- As head of Catholic Charities of Boston Tiziana Dearing has developed a fierce commitment to fighting poverty. Now, as she readies to move on from that post, she says she will be continuing that commitment.

Dearing said she will be resigning her post as president of Catholic Charities in September and become the founding CEO of Boston Rising, a start-up fundraising and grant-making organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Boston.

"My time at Charities galvanized my commitment to anti-poverty work. There was this chance to help raise new resources for work on anti-poverty," she said.

"It made sense to take this chance," she added.

Succeeding Dearing as president of Catholic Charities will be Debbie Rambo, currently the organization's vice-president for operations. Rambo is a licensed social worker who has held various roles at Charities since 1978.

"I would like to thank Cardinal O'Malley, Father Bryan Hehir and the board of trustees for this opportunity," said Rambo. "Having been a part of this tremendous organization for the past 30 years, I am keenly aware of the great need for and significant impact of our programs and services on the lives of so many across Eastern Massachusetts and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with my dedicated colleagues as we continue our important work."

Rambo will oversee the agency's 140 programs that serve nearly 200,000 people each year.

"She's been my strategic partner these last three years in every major decision we've made," Dearing said. "There's no corner of our agency she doesn't know by heart. She's a competent leader who is well-respected."

In her current programming role, Rambo is responsible for the execution of the agency's programs and services, as well as supervision of program staff.

Jeff Kaneb, chairman of the board of trustees at Catholic Charities, cited Rambo's depth and breadth of experience, and thanked Dearing for her work.

"I speak on behalf of the entire board of trustees in noting that Debbie has played a significant role in every major strategic and programmatic initiative in the agency for more than a decade. Her vast experience and unique perspective on our mission and the people and communities we serve make her a natural fit to lead Catholic Charities," said Kaneb. "We are grateful to Tiziana Dearing for her leadership and wish her the best of luck as she embarks on a new role where she will lead an important effort to fight poverty in Boston."

In addition to Rambo's work at Catholic Charities, she is a school site council member for the Samuel Mason Elementary School in Roxbury and on the boards of trustees for the North Suffolk Mental Health Association and Community Music Center of Boston. She holds a master's degree in social work from Boston College.

Under Dearing's leadership, the organization strengthened and increased its capacity to provide services to clients across Eastern Massachusetts despite a restructuring and downsizing in administration that resulted from the recent economic downturn, Dearing indicated in a letter to staff and friends that is printed in its entirety in this week's edition of the Pilot. (See page 11)

"We have wrung every drop of blood we could from ourselves and our resources to make sure we are serving clients," the letter said.

She also increased the visibility of the organization by being a vocal and public advocate on various public policy issues related to the needs of the working poor.

Dearing was named one of the Boston Business Journal's "40 Under 40" in 2008, received the New England Women's Leadership Award in 2009 and a Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in 2010.

"I would like to thank Tiziana for her outstanding leadership and commitment to provide services for those in need. We are pleased that she will be continuing her efforts as an advocate for the poor," said Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley. "Catholic Charities is greatly blessed that Debbie Rambo has been named the new president and will direct the agency at a time when experienced leadership and a well-developed understanding of the needs of our clients is critical to the success of the mission. Debbie is well known for her commitment to the individuals and families we serve. She will very capably uphold and advance Catholic Charities' guiding principle: to build a compassionate society where all people are treated with dignity and respect."

Dearing has been Catholic Charities' president since September 2007. Prior to that, she was the executive director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and served as a consultant to senior managers of non-profits and corporations. In 1997, she started her own consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, decision making, coaching, and group facilitating. Her clients included local and international academic and non-profit organizations.