How CEO Sean Callahan plans to shake up CRS culture

By Kelli Rogers 20 March 2017

A Catholic Relief Services delegation consisting of Carolyn Woo, Sean Callahan, and Bishop Paul Coakley visit Gaza to witness the destruction first hand caused by the conflict. Photo by: Shareef Sarhan / CRS

Instead of giving hard answers to recent budget questions, new Catholic Relief Services CEO Sean Callahan turned them back to his team — a new, cross-divisional group composed of representatives from finance, overseas operations, donor engagement, legislative affairs and fundraising.

“Of course I want a balanced budget and to reduce budget deficit … but I want to know what they recommend first,” Callahan told Devex during a visit to CRS projects in Niger.

CRS has already established cross-divisional teams for strategy, staff engagement, board and foundation engagement, and their 75th anniversary; more will be created in the future according to agency priorities.

A lesson in likeability with CRS CEO Sean Callahan

It's an approachable matter-of-factness that accompanies Sean Callahan into a room — an attribute that has served him from conflict zones to boardrooms and has now launched him to CRS' top spot.

Devex accompanied the Catholic Relief Services CEO to Niger to learn more about what motivates him.

It’s an approach that Callahan, who assumed leadership of the faith-based nonprofit in January, will continue rolling out as part of a new strategy founded in steadfast building and strengthening of organizational culture.

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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