What's Happening


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 12, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Elise D. García, OP, now Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, reflects in an article in The National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report on her three years of service in the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The LCWR is an association of about 1,350 elected leaders representing about 80% of the women religious in the United States. As General Councilor for the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 2016 to 2022, Sister Elise also was a member of the LCWR. She was elected as President-elect during the LCWR’s 2019 assembly and formally became President during the 2020 Assembly and Past-President during the 2021 Assembly.

In her retrospective, Sister Elise looks back on the “hinge years” of the early 2020s that saw such calamities as the COVID-19 pandemic; the police murder of George Floyd and the accompanying focus on racism and white supremacy in the United States; the insurrection at the nation’s Capital in January 2021; global “climate chaos” that included floods, droughts, and forest fires; and Russia’s war against Ukraine. She also details the LCWR’s responses to these crises.

“We are in a make-or-break decade of preventing catastrophic global warming for generations to come,” Sister Elise writes. “We face the urgent task of dismantling threats to democracy and the evil of white supremacy that are intertwined in such deadly combustion. … All call for a movement toward right relationship with one another and our Earth community – for loving one another and our Earth home as God loves us.”

Read Sister Elise’s full retrospective.


Feature photo: Sister Elise D. García, OP, delivers her presidential address for the 2021 Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) Assembly in August 2021. Her address was recorded in July for the August 2021 virtual assembly.



Search News Articles

Recent Posts

Read More »