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January 30, 2023, Silver Spring, Maryland – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). She will be presented the award on August 11, 2023, during the closing banquet of LCWR’s Assembly in Dallas. Her selection was approved unanimously by the LCWR board.

Recipients are chosen based on their “commitment and collaboration in the ministry of leadership; faithfulness to gospel values and mission; creative and innovative leadership in one or more areas; and significant contribution on the national and/or international level, particularly to women religious congregations in the United States.” 

“I’m deeply honored,” Sister Donna said in response to the news.

In a letter announcing Sister Donna’s selection, Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, Executive Director of LCWR, wrote: “Having served as a clinical psychologist, educator, and executive leader, Donna has been recognized internationally for how she models collaboration, creativity, and innovation in leadership areas that include healthcare, social service, and religious life. LCWR looks forward to learning more about Donna’s approach to effective leadership when it honors her.”

Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, said, “Donna’s outstanding gift of leadership could not be more aptly recognized. It will be a joy and an honor for all of us on the [Adrian Dominican] Leadership Council to represent our community at the LCWR Assembly this August when the Conference’s highest award will be bestowed on our outstanding Dominican Sister.”

Since June 2015, Sister Donna has served as President and CEO of CCUSA – a network of Catholic agencies throughout the United States that serve people in need in such areas as hunger, affordable housing, immigration and refugee services, integrated health, advocacy and social policy initiatives, and domestic disaster relief. Before being named President, she served on the CCUSA Board of Directors for eight years, including two years as Board Chairperson. She will retire this summer.

A graduate of Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette, Illinois – founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters – Sister Donna served the Congregation on the General Council from 1986 to 1992 and as Prioress from 2004 to 2010. Her accomplishments as Prioress included establishing seven new mission initiatives in the United States, Canada, and Africa and inviting young Dominican Sisters from Iraq to the United States, sponsoring them for education. In addition, she served as President of LCWR from 1990 to 1993.

A licensed clinical psychologist, Sister Donna was a psychologist and Director of Dominican Consultation Center in Detroit, 1980-1986; clinical psychologist at Romero House in Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1992-1993; President of Southdown Institute, Aurora, Ontario, a residential treatment program for priests and religious, 1993-2003. She was served as President of the Behavioral Health Institute at Mercy Health System.

The LCWR is an association of the elected leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States.

October 4, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was among the Nonprofit Times’ (NPT) 2022 Power and Influence Top 50 during a gala held in September at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This is the seventh year in a row that Sister Donna has received this honor.

“The honorees have distinguished themselves as initiators, innovators, and leaders who can redirect and sometimes restrict vital nonprofits and their operations,” wrote Paul Clolery in the announcement of the top 50 honorees. He noted that the honorees distinguished themselves in their day-in, day-out work during a challenging year, still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, food shortages, and inflation.

Sister Donna was recognized for going beyond talk in the social sector and taking action, such as visiting the border to see firsthand the situation for immigrants. Responding to the challenges faced by 58,000 Catholic Charities workers, Sister Donna is focusing on housing and healthcare, “particularly seeing housing as a moral imperative and partnering with anyone willing to pitch in,” the 2022 Top 50 influencers program states. 

Catholic Charities USA is the national office for diocesan agencies throughout the United States. Its mission is “to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.” 

Catholic Charities agencies serve all people in need in such areas as food and nutrition, affordable housing, social enterprise initiatives, advocacy and social policy initiatives, immigration and refugee services, disaster relief, and leadership development and Catholic identity. Sister Donna is the first female President and CEO in CCUSA’s more than 110 years of history.


Featured photo: Leaders attending the Nonprofit Times 2022 Power and Influence Top 50 Gala are, from left, Jonathan Reckford, President of Habitat for Humanity; Nancy Brown, President of the American Heart Association; Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and Gail McGovern, President of the American Red Cross.



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