By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 15, 2020
ATLANTA—St. Vincent de Paul Georgia’s new CEO Patrick McNulty is taking up the reins of the charity dedicated to helping those in need as the economic crisis spurred by the novel coronavirus raises the risk of food insecurity and threatens thousands of families with evictions.
The organization relies on more than 5,000 volunteers to assist some 116,000 Georgians a year. It is also focused on raising $650,000 to finish its new headquarters, with its expanded food pantry and a new community pharmacy that will offer free prescription medications.
He replaced John Berry, who stepped down after 14 years as the leader. Berry has accepted a new position as national vice president of St. Vincent de Paul USA for the Southeast Region and has also been appointed by Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., as chairman of the Archdiocese of Atlanta Finance Council.
McNulty, 61, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, with 11 siblings. His father ran a third-generation family business, a security firm.
McNulty comes to St. Vincent de Paul Georgia from Allied Universal where he was senior vice president. He has served as a board member of Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School and the Atlanta Mission.
McNulty and his wife, Mary, reside in Brookhaven and have four adult children. They attend Our Lady of Assumption Church, where they have taught religious education classes, served as lectors, assisted at homeless shelters and participated in other ministries. The McNultys enjoy time with their new granddaughter and family as well as playing golf and tennis.
He responded to questions from The Georgia Bulletin about his new role. Some answers have been edited for length.
Q: You have had a successful career in the billion-dollar security industry, among others. What motivated you to write the next chapter of your professional life leading St. Vincent de Paul Georgia?
A: “What motivated me was the opportunity to contribute to something more significant. I was inspired by the opportunity to impact and improve the livelihoods of those in need. We are an organization that provides Hope and Help—those two words and themes really stood out to me in the discernment process.”
Q: What have you learned in the past six months during the pandemic that will shape SVdP in the next year?
A: “As I begin my third month of association with the organization, I have learned that we must be increasingly agile. Almost daily, the landscape is changing for so many of the folks we serve—and for our volunteers and team. That ‘continuous change’ requires us to be fluid, dynamic, and willing to pivot to meet the demands of these times. For now, our services may ‘feel,’ or even be, more transactional and less, what I term, ‘trajectory enhancing.’ However, those small steps may be exactly what is needed to create some glimmer of Hope on a go-forward basis.”
Q: With a record number of people unemployed and underemployed, what challenges does SVdP face?
A: “The challenges we face, as you might expect, are how to adequately address so many requests in an appropriate timeframe. To date, our team of staff and volunteers have met the challenges by staying nimble and working hard to keep up with the expanded scope and the compressed timelines. We are responding to increased grant requests and having good success matching the dollars with those most in need.”
Q: What about working for SVdP makes you hopeful?
A: “What makes me hopeful is the incredible passion, energy and drive displayed by the people who are associated with our vision and mission! It is a real differentiator between us and other nonprofit service organizations, and we need to ensure that we continue to recognize and nurture that culture.”
Q: You oversee an organization named for a man who said, “Go to the poor: you will find God.” What has been a meaningful experience for you of accompanying the poor and those on the margins?
A: “Early on, I had a chance to deliver food (because of the pandemic, the model was/is altered) with my wife. As we were departing the apartment complex, I looked back to see if anyone had received or taken the food from the doorstep, where we had left it. I saw a curtain move ever so slightly and thought I saw the face of what likely was a young mother. The curtain then returned to its original position. Several minutes later, I received a text from the family, thanking us in Spanish—and thanking God. I think moments like that are so inspiring and are indicative of what we mean by saying ‘growing closer to God through service to those in need’.”
Q: This has been a summer of racial reckoning with businesses and nonprofits looking at their practices and supporting some measures for greater racial equity. What steps will you be taking to include more people of color and marginalized communities in the leadership roles within SVdP, from the board of directors down to the parish level?
A: “I am glad you asked that question. Before I took the position, I told the incoming president of the board (similar to a chair of a board in other organizations), as well as the rest of the board, that a large emphasis of mine would be to immediately address the need for greater diversity throughout the organization. The incoming president, Mike Mies, shares that view. I am excited to share with you that we have already made significant inroads to changing our composition to reflect exactly what you are referencing. We believe that we need to ‘walk the talk’ at the board level first and foremost. We are also focused on making that a priority at the ‘next levels’ of the organization by growing our volunteer base and outreach among the African American, Hispanic and other diverse communities, as well as more youth and young adult involvement.”
For more information on St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, go to svdpgeorgia.org.