Michael G. Duggan '82
What is our special responsibility to the world’s poor and powerless?
It is question rooted in the mission of the College of the Holy Cross; a question never far from the daily life of this son of Quincy, Massachusetts. Michael Duggan lives his life standing witness to the struggles and triumphs of his sisters and brothers. He gives hope to those who are at risk of giving up, to those who have had the world give up on them.
Graduating from Holy Cross with a major in sociology, Michael headed to Brooklyn in the early 1980s as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. He became part of the fabric of the community, working for nine years at Good Shepherd Services, eventually becoming director of a neighborhood school and coordinating all programs, resources, and support for 110 high-risk and emotionally disturbed children. While working full time, he also received his master’s degree in social work from Hunter College.
In 1991, Michael took on what was seen by many as an impossible job. The Domus Foundation, a small social service provider based in Stamford, Connecticut, had just one program, a budget of less than $300,000, and was on the brink of collapse. Today, thanks to Michael’s leadership, Domus is an $11 million multifaceted and vital nonprofit organization of community services, residential programs, and charter schools serving young people whose lives are seriously at risk due to neglect, abuse, drugs, and homelessness. He not only provides life-saving services for more than 600 children and their families, he has personally mentored young people – including one young man for almost 19 years – and, at the same time, has built policies, programs, and organizational models that are regionally and nationally recognized.
Michael’s foundational grounding in Jesuit teaching and spirituality has only become more apparent as the years have gone by. He radiates an infectious faith, whether he is running a board meeting, counseling a parent in crisis, leading his men’s retreat group – still going strong after 10 years – or coaching the kids on his hometown Little League and youth football teams.
Since the days in Brooklyn, Michael and his wife Karen have been partners in this work, and have brought up their children, from their earliest years, to recognize their responsibilities to standing in solidarity with the poor and the powerless. The Holy Cross Community is immensely proud and honored to call Karen’s husband and the father of Kellie, Brian, Hannah and Sara one of their own.
For his extraordinary, open-hearted and living faith, for responding to and giving hope to the downtrodden among us, for skillfully building systems that help people in desperate need, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Michael G. Duggan the Sanctae Crucis Award.