Volunteer and Donor Spotlight

Kevin O’Keefe, President, Weber Shandwick Baltimore, is a long-time volunteer and donor to Catholic Charities. For well over a decade, his full-service communications firm has also provided pro bono expertise, including the design of Catholic Charities’ new logo. Kevin shares the reason for his commitment in the following conversation:

What prompted you to become so personally and professionally involved in Catholic Charities?

I first became involved with Catholic Charities sometime in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. I had been a casual Catholic before then, and as I came to take my faith more seriously, I also grew to appreciate the significance of the Church’s preference for the poor, as modeled in the example of Catholic Charities. I was further impressed by the quality of talent in the people Catholic Charities employs. This, I realized, was an organization not only committed to making change, as most non-profits are, but which also recognized that the quality of outcomes that could be achieved was directly related to the quality of management talent who work for and guide the agency.

How would you describe your volunteer roles in the Agency?

I have been privileged to serve Catholic Charities in a variety of roles – as a member of the communications and marketing advisory committee, as a member of and President of the Board of Trustees, as a volunteer communication advisor, and, with my wife Carolyn, as co-chair of the annual dinner for Our Daily read Employment Center. What I have not done much of yet, but intend to do more, is to be engaged as a direct service volunteer to the clients of Catholic Charities.

What has kept you so involved in the Agency’s work?

I have stayed involved because of my belief in the mission of Catholic Charities, because it enriches my faith life, and, more selfishly, because I value the exposure to the interesting and accomplished people who serve Catholic Charities as employees, trustees and volunteers. What I have learned from my association with Catholic Charities is far greater than what I have given in terms of time, talent and resources.

From your viewpoint as a leader in the communications industry, why is Catholic Charities’ branding project important?

If you agree with me that Catholic Charities is the preeminent provider of human services in our community, then it follows that Catholic Charities’ brand must be recognized, understood and valued by everyone in our community who can help advance the agency’s work.

What do you hope the creation of our new brand will accomplish?

My hope for our new brand expression is that it conveys that the source of our charitable works is the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. As Archbishop Lori and Cardinal O’Brien have often said, we do the work of Catholic Charities not because the people we serve are Catholic – the vast majority are not – but because we are Catholic, and as Catholics who believe, we are called to see the face of Christ in all we serve.

Has your relationship with Catholic Charities had an impact on your staff?

Whenever I have called upon my colleagues at Weber Shandwick, they have responded generously with their time and talent. My non-Catholic colleagues especially are eager to assist because they have come to know that the work of Catholic Charities is a blessing to all in our community.

What is your perception of Catholic Charities in the Baltimore region?

Catholic Charities is respected, valued and admired by Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and people who profess no faith. The respect grows from the perception, a correct perception I should note, that Catholic Charities is extraordinarily good at meeting its mission and is able to do so on a scale that no other human services agency can.

Why do you think “Cherishing the Divine within All” accurately describes why and how Catholic Charities does its work?

In a community with so many unmet human needs and with so many damaged lives, the temptation to grow numb to need is always present. Fortunately, that happens less than it might because the people of Catholic Charities live what they believe, and they inspire the rest of us to do the same. I consciously remind myself throughout my day that the face of God shines in the faces of all I meet, even when that face is hard to see.