Campaign for Catholic Schools announces new board leadership

BRAINTREE -- The Campaign for Catholic Schools (CCS) announced Jan. 30 that Adage Capital co-founder Robert G. Atchinson has been elected chair of the board, succeeding CCS co-founder and business leader Jack Connors, Jr. Atchinson had previously served as vice chair of the board and trustee.

Connors will serve as chair emeritus of the organization he led for 15 years, and succeeding Atchinson as vice chair is Travis Rhodes, president of Abrams Capital.

CCS is charged with rebuilding urban Catholic schools in Greater Boston. Since its organization, they have raised $130 million and assisted with the consolidation of 20 struggling elementary schools in the area, currently six vibrant regional schools in 10 urban neighborhoods throughout Greater Boston.

CCS implements a structured plan for school improvement that includes building renovations, lay governance, improved academics, and innovative teacher support. In this regional governance model, lay leaders govern and manage the school, carrying the rich legacy of Catholic education where parishes no longer have the financial capacity due to economic and demographic challenges. Local boards of trustees include members with expertise in education, finance, real estate, faith formation, and fundraising.

Currently, CCS co-sponsors two large regional urban academies, St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester and Trinity Catholic Academy in Brockton, serving about 1,465 students from preschool to grade eight across five fully renovated campuses. These schools were founded in 2007 and 2008 through the consolidation of 10 struggling parish elementary schools and serve low-to-moderate-income families, including many who are new to the country.

Atchinson is co-founder, managing director, and portfolio manager of Adage Capital Management, a Boston-based investment firm. He is currently chair of Massachusetts Eye and Ear and has served on numerous boards, including the College of the Holy Cross and Horizons for Homeless Children. His leadership efforts with CCS began in 2008 through his wife Michelle's volunteer work as a literacy tutor at the then-newly established St. John Paul II Catholic Academy Lower Mills campus. In 2010, Atchinson co-chaired a $10 million effort to renovate the 100-year-old Lower Mills campus of St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, attracting an ecumenical group of supporters from the finance industry.

Rhodes is president, managing director, and investment analyst of Abrams Capital, a Boston-based investment firm. He is involved with several non-profits, including Wide Horizons for Children, an international adoption and humanitarian aid agency, where he is chair emeritus. He is a member of the Boston College Board of Trustees and co-chair of the Venture Philanthropy Network at Boston Children's Hospital. Rhodes is the co-founder, with former Boston Celtic All-Star Dana Barros, of the Dana Barros Basketball Club in Stoughton, a basketball center that serves youth in the Greater Stoughton area. Rhodes joined the CCS Board in June 2022.

Connors, a well-known Boston business leader and co-founder of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., is thought by many to be the most impactful philanthropist in Boston, most recently with the creation of the Campaign for Catholic Schools and Camp Harbor View, a summer camp that provides at-home programs for inner-city youth and their families. Connors served as chair of the board of directors of Partners HealthCare System (now Mass General Brigham) for 16 years and is now chair emeritus. He served on the Boston College Board of Trustees for over 30 years and was chair of that board on two occasions. He is a member of the Board of Overseers for the Home Base Program for wounded warriors at the MGH, the Board of Fellows at Harvard Medical School, and Board of Dean's Advisors for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.