New Catholic Charities CEO points to servant leadership, Gospel values and love of Christ

Paul Mulligan, who led Catholic Education Arizona for seven years and helped grow the tuition-assistance organization serving families of the Diocese of Phoenix, became the new CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services Sept. 22.

Paul Mulligan is the new CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services. The Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral parishioner said he is deeply influenced by St. John Paul II.
Paul Mulligan is the new CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services. The Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral parishioner said he is deeply influenced by St. John Paul II.

Mulligan brings a wealth of experience as well as a passion for service to his new position.

The Navy veteran said his model for leadership is that of servant. Mulligan was the pro-life activities director for the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam during the late 1990s and he and his wife established and led a pregnancy center there.

Mulligan later went on to earn a master’s degree in theological studies in marriage and family from The Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. The Brophy College Preparatory alum has deep roots in the Valley and said he draws inspiration from the teaching of St. John Paul II and the Second Vatican Council.

“The only way man finds himself is by making a sincere gift of himself,” Mulligan said.

The work that Catholic Charities does, Mulligan said, is based on that same notion. Helping with the material needs of the population Catholic Charities serves is crucial, but serving deeper needs is fundamental to the mission.

“It’s not just the service in a transactional way here — it’s the love,” Mulligan said. “That’s what motivates us — that’s what we’re all about. We are tapped into the truth of Christ from the Gospels.”

It’s a lesson Mulligan said he learned through his work establishing the Gabriel Network, an organization that has been helping women and their babies in the Washington, D.C. area since 1997. Gabriel Network helps meet the women’s material needs, but it also offers something more: a relationship.

“Ultimately what the woman really needs and her child really needs is that unmistakable encounter with the love of God,” Mulligan said.

“He’s got high energy and lots of talents and experience, connections and relationships that he’s built both in the business community and within the Catholic community. I think we’re very blessed.”

Mulligan returned to Arizona in 2007 where his devotion to Catholic education then translated into a position as CEO of Catholic Education Arizona. His leadership there was also shaped by the teachings of St. John Paul II. Catholic schools, Mulligan said, focus on service.

“It’s impossible to go through Catholic schools without having that experience where you are drawn outside yourself,” Mulligan said.

The work of Catholic Charities, Mulligan said, is about helping the community’s most vulnerable population, whether they are Catholic or not, and is rooted in Christ.

“We are founded on and dedicated to Catholic social teaching,” Mulligan said. “Those teachings are grounded in the Gospel.”

Mulligan said the work of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta also serves as a model for the work of Catholic Charities.

“She really served all with love because she saw Christ in them,” Mulligan said. “We can look at someone like Mother Teresa and say, ‘I aspire to serve in love like her.’ That’s a great way to orient the organization.”

Ron Stoll, board chair of Catholic Charities, said Mulligan shares Catholic Charities’ commitment to social justice and passion to create a better world.

“We chose Paul because of his dedication to help the community, deep business expertise in non-profit issues, as well as the organizational leadership skills required to lead a large, growing and dynamic social service organization,” Stoll said.

Bob Brown, who recently retired as CEO of Catholic Charities, said Mulligan is a good fit for the organization.

“He’s very engaging and personable,” Brown said. “He’s got high energy and lots of talents and experience, connections and relationships that he’s built both in the business community and within the Catholic community. I think we’re very blessed.”

In his new role, Mulligan will report to Catholic Charities Board of Directors and will be responsible for the organization’s management, fundraising, programs and infrastructure.