Opinion

Serving in a new way

byTiziana C. Dearing
6/18/2010

As you already may have read in this week's issue of The Pilot, I will be leaving Catholic Charities in a few weeks to head the new non-profit organization Boston Rising. This is the letter I sent to my staff and colleagues letting them know of my decision. And since, as readers of The Pilot, you are part of the Catholic Charities extended family, I would also like to share it with you.

Dear Staff and Friends of Catholic Charities,

I am writing you today to tell you that I will be leaving Catholic Charities at the end of the summer to become CEO of Boston Rising, a start-up fundraising and grant-making anti-poverty organization here in Boston. Debbie Rambo, Catholic Charities' Vice President of Programs, and a dedicated employee of Catholic Charities for 32 years, will succeed me as President.

My three years at Catholic Charities have been the most rewarding of my professional life. When I joined this great institution in 2007, I felt so lucky to be able to serve those who serve the poor, vulnerable and marginalized every day. That sense of luck has only grown. And these three years have increased my sense of conviction about three important things.

First, if there are another 100 years of poverty in the Archdiocese, there will be another 100 years of Catholic Charities. I would love to see poverty as we know it end. I also, however, believe that the poor will always be with us. Catholic Charities has seen 100 years of dedicated people religious, staff and volunteers adapting to the needs of the day and the neighborhood, but always advancing the cause of social justice and fighting poverty.

This is a strong, solid institution. It has stepped up its efforts especially during this awful economic downtown, standing strong everywhere it could, and often doing much, much more with fewer resources. We have restructured. We have thinned out our administration. We have wrung every drop of blood we could from ourselves and our resources to make sure we are serving clients.

Now, as we rejuvenate after that tremendous effort, we are building an institution that will stand for another century. My time at Catholic Charities has been a privilege for me, but it is short in comparison with the generations that came before those of us at the agency now, and who will come after us. Debbie is the right next leader to carry the agency forward. She has 32 years of experience as a social worker, leader and team member within Catholic Charities. There is no part of this agency she doesn't know, no client need she does not understand deeply. She will keep the emphasis on our clients and our mission, and has the trust and respect of the human services world in Massachusetts.

Second, while the poor will always be with us, the same people should not always be poor. I have been struck in my years at Catholic Charities by the fact that while the numbers of the poor have been growing, we also are witness to the burden of generational poverty. We need to break that cycle of generational poverty while also alleviating its day to day impact and symptoms. Boston and the Commonwealth need and deserve a continuum of organizations dedicated to this simple truth. Catholic Charities represents one part of that continuum. Boston Rising represents another. My time at Catholic Charities has convinced me that supporting people who are experiencing poverty and working to break its generational cycle are commitments worth a lifetime. I am so lucky to get to dedicate my own professional life to this work. With such a solid leader ready to take the helm, I know I can take this opportunity that has arisen to serve Boston's poor and marginalized in a new way.

Third, not nearly enough of Boston's dollars are going to break this cycle of poverty. Boston is full of generous people, and Catholic Charities' donors are deeply committed. Boston is full of potential philanthropists who do not now give money to fight poverty, though. They, too, can be inspired to do so, and that philanthropy can be channeled to change the financial and opportunity landscapes for so many in Boston. In this my next venture, I will spend my time, effort and the things I have learned helping to build a new generation of anti-poverty philanthropists. Boston Rising has an incredibly smart, dedicated board. It sits in one of the greatest cities in the world. It is committed to that fight, and my choosing to be its first CEO is a testament to the passion Catholic Charities forged in me, and my commitment to continue this fight along side you.

We will communicate more of the details of the transition in the coming weeks. You also will find a letter about this announcement from our board chair, Jeff Kaneb, attached to this email. In the mean time, while I am excited to join Boston Rising and engage in this next stage of a vision shared by all who want to see poverty release its hold on our communities, I leave with true melancholy. You have been the greatest friends and colleagues of my life. You -- staff, donors, volunteers and clients -- have been teachers and great sources of inspiration. You are why my faith is so strong. Thank you for everything you do.

Sincerely,

Tiziana

Tiziana C. Dearing is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.