Sister Donna Markham visits Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley
On November 19, 2021, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV) held its annual Jazz Party fundraiser with a special guest in attendance.
Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), spent the day in Dayton and spoke at the evening celebration. Held at the newly renovated Arcade in downtown, the Jazz Party was a gala evening of dinner and dancing attended by over 400 CSSMV supporters.
During the afternoon, Markham visited the CSSMV Food Pantry and administrative offices, chatted with program managers, and praised the dedication of the staff and CSSMV’s creation of relevant programming.
Markham presented CSSMV with a plaque and donation from the national organization in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Dayton-based agency. She presented the award to CSSMV CEO Laura Roesch and Board Chair Dave Richard at the conclusion of her short remarks at the evening event. She said she was conveying best wishes from all the Catholic Charities organizations across the country because “100 years is a big deal!”
“This organization represents the best of Catholic social services in this country,” said Markham, who also praised Roesch as “a treasure” and “one of the best CEOs in the Catholic Charities network.”
Roesch, who has served as CSSMV’s CEO since 2009, recently completed a three-year term on the Catholic Charities USA Board of Trustees. She was delighted when Markham accepted the invitation to come to Dayton.
“Sister Donna’s leadership of Catholic Charities USA has been a true blessing to the network of local organizations, including Catholic Social Services,” said Roesch. “Though CCUSA is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, we deeply feel their support. In fact, the morning after the Memorial Day tornados hit the Dayton region in 2019, the first person to reach out to check on us around 5:30 a.m. was from CCUSA.”
Markham’s visit to Dayton capped a busy week for her which included an invitation to the White House to watch President Biden sign the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. She attended the event with members of both houses of Congress, as well as mayors, governors, representatives of labor unions, and representatives of organizations that serve the working class and the working poor. She is excited that the bill will create jobs and impact the people served by CCUSA.
While some would be awed by an invitation to the White House, Markham is no stranger to gatherings in Washington. In the spring, she was chosen to be one of eight faith leaders who met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss ways to collaborate on pressing issues. Markham joined Bishop Mary Anne Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Walter Kim, President of the Evangelical Churches of the U.S.; and Bishop Leah Daughtry, Bishop of the Churches of the House of the Lord, to meet with the vice president in her formal reception room. Four other faith leaders participated via Zoom.
Known for her activism on social justice issues, Markham spent time at El Centro, California earlier this year, visiting Catholic Charities workers at the border who are struggling to meet the needs of Mexican migrants.
“We work on the margins,” she said. “Regardless of race, creed, nationality, social status, orientation, or age, we extend our care so people may reclaim hope and live a full life. Catholic Charities is a profound expression of the healing ministry of the Church.”
The first woman to lead Catholic Charities USA in its 111-year history, Markham is a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, a congregation of more than 500 vowed women religious and 211 associates who minister in 22 states and four counties. She is a board-certified clinical psychologist and has been named one of the top 50 most influential non-profit executives by the NonProfit Times. Before becoming CEO in 2015, she served on CCUSA’s Board of Trustees for eight years including two as Board Chair.
Markham has served in leadership positions in behavioral healthcare both in Canada and the United States, most recently as the president of the Behavioral Health Institute for Mercy Health, which is based in Cincinnati. She is an internationally recognized author and speaker in areas pertaining to transformational leadership and organizational change management.
Catholic Charities USA is a membership organization representing more than 160 diocesan Catholic Charities member agencies, which operate more than 2,600 service locations across the country. Last year, CCUSA agencies served more than 12 million people in need.