Carolyn Woo, the retired CEO of Catholic Relief Services and former dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, will serve as the keynote speaker at 2023 Commencement Ceremony of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, July 15.
“We are honored that Carolyn will speak to our graduates,” said John Staud, the executive director of ACE. “She has spent her life working to improve the lives of children around the world, a mission that resonates with our graduates and exemplifies our Catholic mission.”
Woo served as CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from 2012 to 2016, guiding the institution as it undertook humanitarian relief and sustainable development in over 100 countries serving over 100 million people each year. CRS designs and implements over 1,000 programs annually to reduce poverty, diminish risk, and foster prosperity in areas such as emergency relief, micro-finance, health systems, childhood development, education, agricultural productivity, empowerment of women, refugee resettlement, and peace-building. Woo was recognized in 2013 as one of 500 of the Most Powerful People on the Planet by Foreign Policy and as one of 30 in the category of A Force for Good.
Woo served as dean of Mendoza College from 1997 to 2011, where she focused on the college’s Catholic identity and built the team and culture to systematically improve teaching, pursue curricula innovations, enhance placement of students, and embed ethics in all business disciplines. The college was frequently recognized as the nation's leading business school in ethics education and research and received the top ranking from Bloomberg Businessweek for its undergraduate business program. Woo was also elected the first female chair of the accreditation association for business schools worldwide and led the launch of the Principles for Responsible Management program with the United Nations.
Woo has served on the boards of corporate enterprises in the United States and Europe covering global risk management, regulated utility, AI-driven socially responsible investing, community banking, retailing, auto components manufacturing, and pharmaceutical distribution. In 2018, 2019 and 2021, she coordinated the Vatican Dialogues on Energy Transition, which convened CEOs of energy and investment companies in conversation with each other and the Pope. An outcome was a joint statement by participants supporting the need for carbon pricing. Woo is a frequent contributor to Give Us This Day and the author of two books, Working for a Better World and Rising: Learning from Women's Leadership in Catholic Ministries.
ACE commencement exercises are set for 3:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Notre Dame will bestow 125 graduate degrees upon the next generation of Catholic school teachers and leaders who completed periods of formation and service in two nationally recognized programs.
Eighty-eight ACE Teaching Fellows graduates will receive master of education degrees as the culmination of two years of academic study combined with teaching in Catholic K-12 schools in underserved areas around the country. Thirty-seven graduates from ACE’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program will receive master of art degrees in educational leadership, concluding 25 months of formation that prepared them to be principals and other leaders in Catholic education.
ACE will also present awards at the ceremony to honor three of its graduates. Dan Reynolds, a member of ACE Teaching Fellows’ 13th cohort and an assistant professor of education at John Carroll University, will receive the Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field. Victoria McBride and Dominic Fanelli will receive the Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education, given to those who graduated between five and 10 years ago and have distinguished themselves in making significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic education. McBride, a member of the 18th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, is the vice president of mission at Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Fanelli, a member of the 18th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows and the 17th cohort of the Remick Leadership Program, is the principal of Benedictine High School in Cleveland.