In Interview, CRS President Carolyn Woo Talks About the Business of Charity

January 17, 2014 by

The Baltimore Fishbowl, a publication located in the same city as Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) international headquarters, interviewed CRS President & CEO Dr. Carolyn Woo about Pope Francis, leadership, world issues and more.

Recently named one of the “top 500 most important people on the planet” by Foreign Policy magazine, Carolyn Woo took the reins in 2012 as head of Catholic Relief Services, headquartered in Baltimore….  

Dr. Woo has an interesting personal story as well. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she attended a Catholic school run by the Maryknoll Sisters, American nuns who devoted their lives to overseas service.  Influenced by these women, she came to America against the wishes of her family, having raised on her own the money for one year of schooling. She attended Purdue University, where, after the first year, she won a scholarship for international students, and graduated with highest honors with an undergraduate degree in economics.  She stayed on at Purdue to earn a masters degree and a Ph.D., as well.

Baltimore Fishbowl: Have you had an opportunity to meet Pope Francis?

 Carolyn Woo: Yes. I met the Pope in June at a meeting of Catholic agencies in Syria. We met at the Casa Santa Maria, where he lives, and he spoke to thirty or forty of us. He spoke in Latin, and I do not speak Latin, so I just watched his face…you can see so much there. What is so extraordinary is that he has changed the (world) conversation in less than nine months — he was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”! And he didn’t do things in a traditional “heroic way.” He was no Mandela. He didn’t take a bullet. He is just a person who exudes love for all, and mercy for the poor. The world is so hungry for that.

The interview goes on to asks questions like, “Can leadership be taught?” “Is there a difference in being a leader at a non-profit organization than at a for- profit?” and “How do you prioritize relief efforts in a world where so much help is needed?”

Read the full interview on the Baltimore Fishbowl.

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