Advancement Director: Mary Alessio

Mary Alessio

Mary Alessio was appointed Catholic Charities first Director of Advancement in 2014.  Alessio’s name was synonymous with refugee care for ten years previously in the Rochester community prior to her role as Advancement Director. She has been with Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota for fourteen years.

She worked with community leaders, business owners, schools and various faith-based organizations for the betterment of both refugees and the community. Alessio states that the best interest of the community is always a top priority.

As a Refugee Resettlement Director, she created awareness regarding the plight of families who arrive from war torn countries in hopes of a new beginning. She created several innovative projects over the past years in order to empower those who arrive; receiving awards of excellence from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington D.C. for Innovation and from United Way of Olmsted County in the area of Financial Stability.

Alessio is known for asking those born in this country to relate to the refugee experience. Alessio believes we all have “refugee moments” in our lives; times when we experience setbacks, loss and devastation and are called to begin again. This applies to all those served in southern Minnesota through the seventeen programs of Catholic Charities.  Alessio states, “Greatness comes from ‘walking in another’s shoes’ and responding with compassion. These acts of compassion empower those in need so that when they are stronger, they will turn around and utilize their skills and talents to help others.”

When asked about the position of Advancement Director Mary said, “It allows me the honor of building relationships and enkindling passion for all the life changing services Catholic Charities offers. I believe Catholic Charities is somewhat of a diamond in the rough. Many have no idea how many programs and services are available; services that change lives and inspire hope. I greatly respect the mission of Catholic Charities and I feel privileged to share our stories with those who empower our effort to provide help and hope to those in need. I want to find ways to create the change that comes with helping hands and open hearts. I believe that most people want to make a difference and leave the world better in some way. I believe Catholic Charities can help them accomplish that goal.”

Alessio embraces the role of Director of Advancement with the same passion as her past positions. Her most recent initiative, Locks of Compassion received both community and national recognition. The “Locks of Compassion” project united people of all ages, genders, faith traditions, and ethnicities. Both residents and visitors from around the world decorated padlocks with signs, symbols, and words of compassion and attached the creations on a community display that was located in Rochester’s Peace Plaza in 2017. The display was gifted to the city of Rochester, MN. The initiative was a catalyst for Rochester being recognized as a city of compassion. Mayor Ardell Brede of Rochester signed the world charter that recognized Rochester as a City of Compassion in 2017. (#locksofcompassion)