The browser you are using is not supported. Please consider using a modern browser.

Skip Navigation
Start of main content.

Longtime leader of large Baltimore nonprofit to stepdown

By: Matt Hooke originally posted on Baltimore Business Journal May 24, 2024

William “Bill” McCarthy will step down as executive director of Catholic Charities of Baltimore next year, ending a 16-year tenure as the leader of one of the region’s largest nonprofits.

McCarthy, a former banking executive, joined the nonprofit in 2009 and has expanded Catholic Charities’ reach by adding new programs and undertaking ambitious construction projects. The Catholic Charities Board of Trustees has already begun a national search for McCarthy’s replacement when he steps down in July 2025, the charity announced on Thursday.

“When you lead an organization of nearly 2,000 employees and 200 locations, it’s a 24/7 job,” McCarthy said. “I’ve done it for 15 years; by the time of this transition, it will be 16 years. It’s time for someone else to bring his or her talents, skillset and passion to the role.”

McCarthy began in the banking world, working at Allfirst Financial Inc. and SunTrust. The death of his daughter Erinn from bone cancer in 2007 fueled his push deeper into philanthropy, leading him to take over Catholic Charities two years laterRevenue at the charity grew from $91.3 million the year he took over to $177 million in 2022 under his watch. The Baltimore branch of Catholic Charities is the third largest in the United States, according to Archbishop William E. Lori.

“Bill has masterfully led the agency during a period of tremendous need, including those prompted by a pandemic, racial strife, and numerous economic downturns,” Lori said in a press release. “I am truly and personally grateful for his leadership and friendship, and I hope he enjoys having more time to spend with his family, especially his wife, Maria, and their son, Ryan.”

Catholic Charities expanded its scope through a variety of programs targeting different groups of people in need under McCarthy. In 2013, the charity took over the city’s largest homeless shelter, the 250-unit Weinberg Housing and Resource Center. Other partnerships focused on neglected neighborhoods in the city. The institution partnered with Keswick in 2022 to bring at-home senior care to West Baltimore and spearheaded the redevelopment of an old shopping center in Cherry Hill in 2020.

“His enthusiasm is contagious and Catholic Charities has grown dramatically and became even more effective in meeting the needs of our neighbors under Bill’s leadership,” Baltimore Ravens owner and Catholic Charities board member Steve Bisciotti said in a press release.

McCarthy’s gifts as an executive director have been recognized by groups ranging from local institutions to the most powerful person in the Catholic faith. The Baltimore Business Journal honored McCarthy as a Power 10 honoree in 2019, and Loyola University named him the Business Person of the Year in 2023. His reputation spread abroad when Pope Francis appointed McCarthy as the sole American on a commission to investigate a Catholic-sponsored university in Jordan.

McCarthy could barely understand the initial phone call he received about the commission but figured out the pope wanted him to fly out to Rome. While in the Vatican he met with the secretary of state of Vatican City, the pope, and other figures as part of an international effort to reform the university. While waiting to meet with the secretary, he had a moment of quiet reflection on the journey that led him to meet with the most powerful people in the Catholic faith.

“I looked down and there’s the pope having an audience outside of St. Peter’s. I thought of my dad, who passed a number of years ago, and thought, ‘What’s this kid who grew up in West Baltimore doing in the Vatican waiting to meet with the secretary of state?” McCarthy said. “I quickly learned this project would take more than a few meetings.”

The pope implemented several of McCarthy and his colleagues’ recommendations. The work for the university was not the first time McCarthy encountered Catholic leadership. He previously met with the pope as part of an interfaith delegation. During the meeting, McCarthy gave Pope Francis an apron from the Catholic Charities food program, Our Daily Bread, with the pope’s name on it.

“He said thank you,” McCarthy said. “And do more.”

McCarthy serves on a variety of other nonprofit boards in the region. He is chair of the board of the Baltimore branch of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank and on the boards of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Thomas O’Neill Catholic Health Care Fund, the Board of Financial Administration of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Maryland Catholic Conference. McCarthy plans to remain active in local nonprofits.

“I’m not going anywhere,” McCarthy said.

This article has been updated to include comments from Bill McCarthy.

View the original Baltimore Business Journal story, here.