RIVIERA BEACH | The leadership at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach is blessed to have a diverse and experienced team. From Ellen Wayne, the new chief executive officer, who has 12 years of experience as a Catholic Charities CEO in New York state, to a group of highly qualified officers and members of the board of directors, the agency is ready to move ahead on its mission to “serve people in need and create hope through all stages of life.”
Taking the lead in this effort, along with Wayne, is retired real estate lawyer William Shannon, who was appointed to the board in 2007 and served as board president from 2010 to 2012. After being reappointed to the board a few years later, Shannon was recently re-elected as board president to serve through June 2024.
He sees his leadership role as helping to implement a three-year strategic plan that “outlines what it is that we’re trying to accomplish, not only this year, but for the next two years after.”
“Catholic Charities is a multifaceted organization,” Shannon said. “We have over a dozen very important ministries, and I’m the kind of administrator that will help coordinate how our very limited resources are applied to all of these various ministries and help the board in making decisions from a corporate level.”
Meeting every two months, the Catholic Charities board of directors is comprised of about 12 members, he said. Others serving as board officers are Father Albert Dello Russo, vice president; Nannette Cassidy, secretary; and Vito Gendusa, treasurer. Additional board members include Marietta Muiña McNulty, immediate past president; John Herrick; Catalina Pines; Dr. Marciano Miclat Jr.; Karmita Gusmano; Mark Eidemueller; Daniel Lewis; and Ruby Rinker. Attorneys J. Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert Diaz serve as ex-officio members, and Terence Murphy and Father Thomas Barrett are consulting directors.
“It is a resources challenge for us,” Shannon said, “but I have a faithful, competent, dedicated board of individuals who have excellent backgrounds and skills in business and management.”
Wayne said that, since starting as CEO on June 27, “I have found the members of the board to be generous with their time and dedicated to advancing the important work of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach.”
“These officers bring skill, passion and commitment to our organization, and I am confident they will help us grow our response to the needs of this region’s most poor and vulnerable,” she said. “Their vision has helped us acquire new resources that are expanding our physical presence in the Fort Pierce community and that have literally mobilized our efforts to reach pregnant women through use of outreach vans. With their leadership, I believe we will be successful with our strategies to grow and strengthen the agency.”
Father Dello Russo, diocesan chancellor, who has been on the Catholic Charities board for four years, said his expertise “is particularly helpful in areas of finance and budgeting and, as a bishop’s representative, to weigh in on matters which directly or indirectly overlap or cross into diocesan concerns.”
He sees an ongoing need to financially support the agency’s work, which “exemplifies the mandate of Jesus to help the poor, the hungry and the homeless. It is a vital part of the mission of the diocese.”
The other officers, Cassidy and Gendusa, fill a need on the board for members with work experience in financial oversight.
Cassidy, chief financial officer for an aftermarket auto parts manufacturer, has been on the Catholic Charities board and its finance committee for three years. “While passionate about the programs at Catholic Charities, I like to look at the programs from a finance/business mindset, making sure we have dollars coming in so we can continue to do good work,” she said.
Cassidy also mentioned a desire to help the agency do a better job of promoting its charitable work that benefits all five counties of the diocese.
As chief financial officer of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Gendusa, who has held a board position since 2018, knows well the vital nature of active fundraising and grant-writing efforts.
“I think my background in finance and accounting is important now more than ever just with the way the economy is going,” he said. “I think it’s going to be important to manage the finances of Catholic Charities to be able to help those who are vulnerable and in need of Catholic Charities services. That’s going to be difficult to navigate how to allocate those resources to the proper ministries within Catholic Charities.”
Gendusa said he has been impressed with Wayne’s enthusiasm and experience as a community leader. “We’re going to try to help her out as much as possible,” he said. “She seems to have a great vision and knowledge of Catholic Charities.”
For more on the work of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Palm Beach, or to learn how you can get involved with this organization, visit www.ccdpb.org, call 561-345-2000 or email Ellen Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org.