William Canny Named Head of USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services

May 15, 2015 By Public Affairs Office
WASHINGTON—William Canny has been named executive director of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Canny succeeds Ambassador Johnny Young, who retired from the USCCB at the end of February after seven years of service.

“As world events, including an alarming rise in religious persecution, force thousands of families from their homes, we are especially grateful to add to the Conference's response Bill's unique combination of experience, expertise, and commitment to the Church,” said Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB general secretary, upon making the appointment.

Canny brings experience of over 25 years of service to the Catholic Church and to refugees and migrants through his previous positions at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the International Catholic Migration Commission, as well as strong skills as a leader and administrator.  

From 2010-2012, he served as CRS’ director of emergency operations, leading the emergency department in global prevention, preparedness, protection and response operations. Canny directed CRS’ initial response to the Haiti earthquake of 2010. From 2006-2009, he served as CRS’s country representative in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he led a staff of 200 and oversaw a range of activities which included programs in the areas of HIV-Aids, health, education, agriculture, disaster preparedness and response, forced migration, and human rights. From 1983-1997, he served in numerous positions at Catholic Relief Services that took him to manage and execute relief and development operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

From 1998-2004, Canny served as secretary general for the International Catholic Migration Commission, in Geneva, which serves and protects refugees, migrants and displaced populations around the world. Interventions included programs in war-thorn communities in Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, Indonesia and East Timor while at the same time advocating for rights-based policies and long term solutions in collaboration with Catholic bishops conferences around the world.

Most recently, he served as chief operations officer for the Papal Foundation, based in Philadelphia. In that role, Canny directed daily operations. The Papal Foundation has contributed over $110 million to the Vatican for initiatives aimed to alleviate poverty around the world, and provides grants to over 100 projects annually. In 2015, the Foundation provided Pope Francis approximately $15 million for charitable works and missionary programs.  

He received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Scranton; a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh; and graduated cum laude from the University of Scranton, with a bachelor of science degree in human services.  

Canny will oversee USCCB/MRS efforts which include policy formulation and communication, advocacy, education, refugee resettlement, and other specialized services to at risk and vulnerable populations, such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors. MRS is the largest non-governmental resettlement agency in the world.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, William Canny, Migration and Refugee Services, MRS, advocacy, education, refugee resettlement, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, International Catholic Migration Commission, Papal Foundation


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