Carolyn Y. Woo | December 28, 2017
Carolyn Woo was the Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business from 1997 to 2011. After departing Notre Dame, Woo accepted a five-year term as president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. With a presence in more than 100 countries, CRS serves 100 million-plus people around the globe.
Woo’s term with CRS ended in 2016. During her tenure, the agency achieved significant success, perhaps most notably in winning large, multi-year grants to increase its transformative and sustainable work. In the past two years alone, CRS has been awarded multiple grants of more than $50 million each.
In this essay, Woo writes about her faith in stepping into the CRS leadership role, her vision for the organization and how her “front seat to world events” has changed her.
I came to know Catholic Relief Services (CRS) by serving as a board member from 2004 to 2010. I was very inspired by the organization — I felt it had unmatched operational excellence and extensive reach and commitment. When I was asked to take the helm, I had to grapple with the issue of giving up my tenure at Notre Dame.
People never give up tenure. I’ve certainly never met a Chinese immigrant who gave up tenure. Yet it was one of the most freeing experiences for me. It was difficult to say, “I don’t need that security. I go with God. I’ll be fine.” But it was part of my transformative growth. And of course, the people we serve don’t even have security into tomorrow.