Catholic Charities Announces New Leadership Team, Presents Charity in Action Awards at Annual Meeting

Catholic Charities Board of Directors Chairman John Kafka, President/CEO Cynthia N. Colbert and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at the Catholic Charities Annual Meeting.

Catholic Charities Board of Directors Chairman John Kafka, President/CEO Cynthia N. Colbert and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at the Catholic Charities Annual Meeting.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, philanthropic leader Deana Blackburn, KTRK ABC13’s Cynthia Cisneros and ExxonMobil’s Donna Petrone were among the 100 attendees for the Sept. 20 Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Annual Meeting & Celebration.

Cynthia N. Colbert, MSW, Catholic Charities president and CEO, perfectly captured the theme “A Year of Mercy, A Bridge to Hope” as she described how the staff and volunteers are called to show God’s mercy by helping those who are hurting, downtrodden and in need of help and restoration – thus providing a bridge to self-sufficiency.

Last year, Catholic Charities served 82,154 clients through its programs ranging from refugee assistance and foster care to financial aid and healthcare.

“Did you know that Catholic Charities assisted 1,253 people with securing jobs?” Colbert asked the crowd. “And another 107 were helped to secure better paying jobs? That’s over $20 million in wages for one year of full-time employment. This is just one example of how we, people of faith working at Catholic Charities, have been called to help restore dignity to those we served in 2015-16. We are all called to serve as a bridge to hope, and the work we do every day helps the women, men and children in our community find the path to better lives.”

Board of Directors Chairman John Kafka, president and CEO of Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing, thanked the outgoing board members and welcomed the 2016-17 Board of Directors and Advisory Board members.

The new board members are Steve Gilliland, David Harvey, Elizabeth Husseini, Paul Layne, Cheryl Malden, William “Bill” Neeson, Gregory Turner, Jamie Vazquez, Karen White and Paul Young. The officers are Kafka, who attends St. Michael Parish; Kevin Rech, vice chair, Corpus Christi Catholic Church; Nancy Evetts, treasurer, St. Cecilia Parish; and Ellen Ginty, secretary; Holy Ghost Parish.

Board members who have completed their terms were recognized and thanked: James E. Bashaw, Jack Allender, Albert Kasumaj, Andrius Kontrimas, Gene Reed and Laura Robertson.

The Advisory Board added Catherine Braun, Raul Dominguez, Janice Jamail-Garvis, Lindsey Harris Massengale, Debbie Kemple, Andrius Kontrimas, Kathryn Marietta, Ally Martin, Jerry Nevlud, Ginger Niemann, Gretchen Martinez Penny, Gene Reed, Laura Robertson, Paul Schneidau and Geraldina Interiano Wise.

“When someone is in a difficult situation, we create a bridge of hope – providing them with the skills and resources to create a sustainable future,” Kafka said. “I am excited to continue my work with the Catholic Charities leadership, staff and volunteers, with Cardinal DiNardo and with the board and advisory directors to positively impact the lives of people in need in our community.”


The 2016 Charity in Action Awards were presented to these outstanding supporters in the following categories:

  • Supporter: ExxonMobil – accepted by Donna Petrone, Exxon’s Counsel and Chair and Co-Coordinator of the Houston Pro Bono Committee, for its commitment to providing immigration legal aid to those in need
  • Parish: St. Michael Catholic Church – accepted by Fr. Wayne Wilkerson, Pastor, and Fr. Jeff Bame, Parochial Vicar, for their help in providing housing and essential supplies to refugees seeking a stable home
  • Volunteer: Rene Mouledoux, retired ExxonMobil international litigation attorney, for his commitment to providing legal aid through the legal clinics offered through our Cabrini Center
  • Junior Charity in Action: Barettes for Books – inaugural award presented to Corpus Christi Catholic School students Analys Barinaga, Zoe Barinaga, and Helena de la Cruz, founders of Barrettes for Books, which provides books to the children living at the Villa de Guadalupe.

“We were delighted to honor such outstanding individuals for their charitable service and their hearts for others,” Colbert said. “They support our mission to provide help and create hope for those in need.”