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New role in Dallas for Shannon’s Darina

SHANNON native Darina O’Dowd Padian has been appointed the new vice president of development for the Catholic Foundation in Dallas, Texas.

As part of the leadership team, she will work with current and prospective donors to continue growing the nearly $300 million in assets managed by the Catholic Foundation, which focuses on charitable giving and philanthropy.
Darina went to St Senan’s National School, St Patrick’s Comprehsive and after school to the Shannon College of Hotel Management.

She went to America after winning a green card more than 25 years ago. ” I won one in 1994 and came over in 1995. I came to Dallas in 1995 and started working for the Four Seasons. The general manager at the time was a wonderful man from Cork called Jim Fitzgibbon. He was a fantastic mentor to all the Irish, there was plenty of us at that time working in the hotel.”

Just three years ago she got into the non profit sector. “In 2018 I joined the Ireland Funds which is another non profit organisation, so that was my first experience with development for non profits. It’s a global philanthropic network, there’s an office in Dublin, in 12 countries around the world. I oversaw Dallas and Colarado, those two markets and we did fundraising for the Ireland Funds which benefits charities in Ireland. It supports almost every organisation that you can imagine at home.”

She is just a few weeks into her new role with the Catholic Foundation, which has a long history of helping people. “It started 66 years ago and it has established a reputaiton in charitable legacy planning. The mission is to promote compassionate charitable giving and stewardship that serves donors and the needs of our community in the diocese of Dallas. It’s a community foundation that’s led by a lay board and staff, so it’s not part of the diocese”

On how it operates, she says, “We help guide potential donors to set up funds here and there’s a number of different types of funds available to the donors. Once the funds have been established they get invested, some of them onto the stock market and there are financial advisers for that. Others can sit here and be almost like a savings fund, then the monies in that fund will be used for charitable giving. Grants that we would write out for charities are based on what the donors themselves would like, if they want to support a particular school or scholarship or hospital or the homeless. Examples of impacts that donors would have made through the Catholic foundation would be school improvements, church renovations, we also do a lot with the homeless, the elderly and marginalised communities in the dioceses of Dallas, supporting organisations that impact on both Catholic and non Catholic issues, around the US.”

Darina will be working losely with both donors and the organisations that are supported. “It’s really working closely with the existing donors that we have, with development plans for the existing funds. Also working closely with the organisations on the ground who are partners of ours that we have supported. We have two grant rounds every year, one in the Spring and one in the Autumn and organisations around the diocese of Dallas will apply for support. As part of our role we go out on the ground and learn what these organisations are about and how we can support them.”

Dallas wouldn’t be one of the cities most strongly associated with the Irish diaspora, but the community is getting stronger there Darina feels. “A lot of people would tend to go to New York or Chicago or Boston but there is quite a large Irish community here in Dallas and it’s continuing to grow. Opportunities in Dallas are continuing to grow, the job market is very strong here.”

With three teenage daughters she is very settled in Texas, but she has six siblings on this side of the Atlantic and likes to get back to Ireland when possible. “The rest of the family is in Clare, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, we’re spread out, but everyone else is there, I’m the only one here. I talke the girls home once a year to see the family.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.