About 30 years ago, a young Belfast man volunteered for a two-year stint in Africa for an Irish charity, Concern Worldwide.
Fast forward those 30 years and that same man, Dominic MacSorley, has just been named Concern Worldwide’s new chief executive.
MacSorley explained that as a “restless 25 year old,” his want for travel and to get away from The Troubles in Northern Ireland led him to join Concern.
But what he found were bigger troubles, telling the Irish Voice last week that the transition was “like going from the frying pan to the fire.”
Admirably, the conditions inspired MacSorley to dedicate his life to the betterment of the world’s most needy.
MacSorley explained that growing up in Belfast, “during The Troubles and as a child of conflict, actually provided me with the tolerance and capability of dealing with those kinds of situations.”
MacSorley never looked back and has been a member of Concern since 1982.
Concern Worldwide is a 45-year-old Dublin-based charity that works with the world’s poorest people and strives not only to provide relief but works with the affected communities on prevention and self-sufficiency.
“Chad, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, these are all tough countries to work in,” says MacSorley.
Fresh off a plane from Haiti, MacSorley explained he still gets reminded of all the work that needs to be done. The Irishman spoke of an encounter he had with a woman at a nutrition program the day before.
“There was a woman who had just walked for a day with her sick child,” MacSorley explained. “She had four other children and said her husband was out of work for a couple years and she had no work.” Her family lived of handouts from a relative.
“That’s what’s going to drive me as CEO, how much more can we do for women like this who are caught in a cycle of poverty that they haven't created themselves.”
MacSorley, previously operations director in Concern’s U.S. office, will be succeeding Tom Arnold, who led the organization for 11 years. MacSorley will also appoint Concern US’s first CEO, Xerox executive Joe Cahalan.
Concern’s focus under MacSorley’s leadership will be on disaster relief and being financially ready to journey to areas that other organizations can’t.
MacSorley expressed his confidence and plans for Cahalan saying, “Appointing the first CEO of Concern US is a big part of the recognition that the United States will have a bigger role in the organization.
“There’s just so much potential here in terms of fundraising, recruitment, partnerships and any bigger, smarter corporations are using the platform in the U.S. to achieve their visions.”
Concern has been able to continue its support of Third World countries and keep the trust of contributors during a less than ideal time for charities.
“Particularly in Europe, the global recession is still a huge obstacle,” MacSorley said.
MacSorley spoke about when there’s no funding available, support from both Irish and American people has been giving Concern the ability to say, “We will raise the money and we will do that.”