April 28, 2009

Kerry Robinson Speaks at Emmanuel College; Recognizes Archdiocese

Emmanuel College's Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SND Lecture, held April 15th, featured guest speaker Kerry Robinson, Founding Executive Director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management (NLRCM). In her lecture titled "On Being the Change You Wish to See in the Church," Robinson discussed the history, mission and growth of the organization and recognized the Archdiocese of Boston, recipient of the roundtable's "Best Practices Award" for its Financial Transparency Project. Most Reverend Walter J. Edyvean, STD, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, and Very Reverend Richard Erikson, Vicar General, were on hand to be recognized.

The Sister Marie Augusta Neal, SND Lecture, sponsored by the Center for Mission Engagement, is an annual series honoring one of Emmanuel's most exceptional professors. As Emmanuel President Sister Janet Eisner, SND gave her opening remarks and welcomed Robinson to the College, she remembered Sister Marie Augusta.

"Sister Marie Augusta Neal served on the faculty for 38 years and during that time she influenced the lives of thousands of Emmanuel students," she said. "With special insistence to hear the voices of the poor, she inspired her students to take an active role in global and social issues. Because of this, it is especially fitting that today Emmanuel welcomes Kerry Robinson."

Robinson is a member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities in Wilmington, Delaware. As a member of the Raskob family, Robinson is grateful to have been involved in the Catholic Church from a very young age along with over 100 direct descendents of her great grandparents, who started the foundation. The Raskob Foundation gave Robinson a glimpse into the Church at the local, diocesan, national and international level, where she found her calling for the future.

"I am passionately and unapologetically in love with the Catholic Church," she said. "You could almost say that by accident of birth I grew to admire the Church. I was inspired by meeting so many different people doing extraordinary things for the Church."

Prior to joining the NLRCM, Robinson served as the Director of Development for Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University, where she also received a Master of Arts in Religion, and led a $73 million fundraising drive to expand and endow the Chapel's intellectual and spiritual ministry and to construct a Catholic student center on Yale's campus. She also spent two years in London working for the Directory of Social Change, an organization dedicated to providing information and training for the nonprofit sector in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Robinson began her lecture by focusing on the origin and overall mission of the NLRCM. She explained that the roundtable was founded based on an opportunity that was apparent in the Church, an opportunity for managerial excellence, for financial transparency and for best practices. In July 2005 the NLRCM held its first board meeting, which Robinson described as "a room with 25 stunning leaders, women, men, ordained, religious and lay, whose personal accomplishments were breathtaking."

Robinson detailed the NLRCM's mission through a series of maxims, the first being that the roundtable is intentionally positive by focusing its energy on identifying examples of excellence in the Church and accelerating and celebrating those practices. As an example, Robinson spoke of the roundtable's "Best Practices Award" that was presented to the Archdiocese of Boston for its Financial Transparency Project. Robinson explained that the award was given to Boston because of the courageous nature of the project, making its detailed finances available to the entire public.

"This was a wonderful move that we wanted to celebrate, all about transparency and availability," said Robinson. "It did a lot for the restoration of trust and confidence in the Church."

The NLRCM has also created a website called churchEpedia.org which allows anyone in the Catholic Church to post their own personal best practices. The site is available to people all over the world, who can read each post and put others ideas towards improving their own local Church.

Another maxim of the roundtable, Robinson described the NLRCM as people of hope, focusing on possibility, valuing imagination and remaining devoted to looking for creative solutions. The NLRCM includes 200 senior leaders from all over the country; leaders with high levels of leadership experience and a deep profound love of the Church who volunteer their time to better the Church.

Robinson continued by describing a new project that the NLRCM is working on, pointing to the fact that the roundtable is extremely catalytic and not concerned with who gets credit as long as the task at hand is completed. Focusing on 15 pilot sites at colleges and universities, the roundtable is looking to instill a sense of baptismal rights and responsibilities in the students. They hope to get young adults more involved in the Church by serving on diocesan or pastoral councils.

The roundtable also looks to maximize capacity, disseminating best practices as not to be wasteful. Robinson explained that the roundtable spends a lot of time in translation in order to ensure that its mission is clear across the entire spectrum of diverse groups involved. In order to do this, the NLRCM adopted 55 "standards of excellence" drafted by Church leaders in Maryland. The standards were specified to the Catholic language to be sure they were completely compliant with canon law. These standards serve as a system of checks and balances in determining best practices in the Church.

Robinson concluded her lecture by stating the most important maxim of the NLRCM, a genuine sense of Christian stewardship and a deep understanding of baptismal rights and responsibilities. Robinson expressed the importance of taking proper care of all that we have been given, recognizing each blessing and sharing our gifts with others.

"It is easy to take proper care of what we have been given," she said. "It is far more demanding to examine the positive potential in your midst and to act on it faithfully."
Bishop Edyvean also spoke briefly to the Emmanuel community, thanking Robinson for her lecture and for the "Best Practices Award" presented to the Archdiocese of Boston. He reported that the archdiocese continues to make financial reports available with increased detail to further the trust and confidence of the public. Bishop Edyvean also remarked that he and his colleagues feel privileged to have known and worked with Sister Marie Augusta Neal. "Hers was an important voice in the Archdiocese of Boston," he said of Sister Marie Augusta. "We are honored that our names are linked together through this lecture."