April 7, 2021, Washington, D.C. – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, was one of eight faith leaders to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris on March 31, 2021, to discuss ways that they can collaborate on pressing issues.
Along with Sister Donna, three other faith leaders met in person with Vice President Harris in her formal reception room: Bishop Mary Anne Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Walter Kim, President of the Evangelical Churches of the U.S.; and Bishop Leah Daughtry, Bishop of the Churches of the House of the Lord. Four other faith leaders participated via Zoom.
In her opening remarks, Vice President Harris thanked the faith leaders for all that they have done throughout their lives, but in particular during the dark times of the past year. “You all throughout this time … as you always do, have been a source of strength, a source of comfort, a source of counsel.” She also thanked the faith leaders for what they have done to meet the daily needs of people, such as housing the homeless and feeding the hungry.
After her opening remarks and the departure of the press, Vice President Harris and the faith leaders began a “candid conversation about how we can be helpful in mitigating vaccine hesitancy in communities of color and underserved communities,” Sister Donna said. They also discussed ways that churches and other faith-based organizations can provide vaccine sites.
“Altogether, we were with the Vice President for about an hour and we will be having follow-up meetings with her on issues such as the migrant situation and food security,” Sister Donna said. “I felt very honored to be invited to the table!”
In her work with Catholic Charities USA, Sister Donna leads a network of agencies throughout the United States that advocate for social justice and provide services for local people in need: from adoption and pregnancy care to housing, senior care, immigration and refugee services, food and nutrition, leadership development, and disaster relief.
Sister Donna, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 2004 to 2010, has been President of Catholic Charities USA since 2015. A clinical psychologist, she served as founding director of the Dominican Consultation Center in Detroit from 1980 to 1986 and, from 1993 to 2003, as President and CEO of the Southdown Institute, a residential treatment program based in Ontario, Canada, for priests and women and men religious dealing with addictions or other psychological issues.