August 14, 2019, Morris Plains, New Jersey – For the fourth year in a row, Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, first woman President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, has been named one of the The NonProfit Times’ (NPT) Power and Influence Top 50 executives.
The selection of Sister Donna this year is part of a trend among nonprofit organizations to “push for 360-degree services,” offering shelter, food, and healthcare as a “bundle,” according to an article by Paul Clolery. Sister Donna foretold the immigration crisis at the border of the United States and Mexico, “and was among the first to jump into action, pushing other nonprofits to follow her lead,” The NonProfit Times notes. “It makes sense that the organization [Catholic Charities USA] moves into affordable housing, given the volume of those who make it across the border and Americans who need assistance.”
The nonprofit executives on the Top 50 list were chosen from 300 of their peers by a committee made up of NPT staff members, executives, and contributors. Honorees are recognized for their contributions in the past 12 months.
Sister Donna and the 49 others on the Top 50 list will be recognized in September at the NPT Power & Influence Top 50 Gala at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Sister Donna, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 2004 to 2010, has been leading Catholic Charities USA since 2015. A clinical psychologist, Sister Donna also served as founding director of the Dominican Consultation Center in Detroit from 1980 to 1986 and, from 1993 to 2003, as President and CEO of the Southdown Institute, a residential treatment program based in Ontario, Canada, for priests and women and men religious dealing with addictions or other psychological issues.
September 9, 2016, Rome – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), attended the September 4, 2016, canonization of Mother Teresa, as an official representative of the President Barack Obama.
“I’m very humbled to be asked by the President to represent him and the U.S. on this occasion,” Sister Donna said. “Mother Teresa did so much to call attention to the plight of the poorest of the poor, and now it is our responsibility to continue that ministry as we work to change the systems that have resulted in this suffering of the most vulnerable.”
Others in the U.S. presidential delegation were Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Kenneth Hackett, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Hon. Suzanne George, Special Assistant to the President for National Security; and Lisa Monaco, Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security. The group traveled from Andrews Air Force Base on a military jet and were met by police escort at Ciampino Airport in Rome.
The Mass was celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, where Sister Donna said the Presidential Delegation was seated in the diplomat section, on the level with the altar and across from cardinals and bishops.
“The liturgy was moving and quite beautiful, including Taize and Gregorian chant, all with the antiphonal singing between the choir and the people,” she said. The group was seated in the hot sun on a 95-degree day for the 90-minute canonization liturgy, she added.
Sister Donna was impressed by the energy of Pope Francis, who took time after the Canonization Liturgy to greet some of the bishops and then rode through the crowd of 120,000 people. “After that, he threw a pizza party for the homeless of Rome,” she noted.
Born in 1910 in what is now Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loreto and, while teaching and later serving as principal in Calcutta, India, she felt the call to serve the sick, destitute, and dying of Calcutta. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in the Archdiocese of Calcutta and, until her death on September 5, 1997, directed her order and continued her service to those most in need.
Through the canonization process, the Catholic Church declares that Mother Teresa has lived a life of heroic virtue and is worthy of imitation and veneration by members of the universal Church.
Feature photo: Carolyn Woo (left), President of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, OP, wait to board a military jet for Rome to attend the Canonization of Mother Teresa.