Guest Insights | Retiring COO Awarded first Msgr. Don Dunn Service Award

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Congratulations to Jennifer Polk, Catholic Charities retiring chief operating officer, who was named the first Monsignor Don Dunn Service Award recipient at her retirement celebration June 20.

Monsignor Don Dunn, was responsible for the establishment of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.  At the time, he was a young priest in the Archdiocese of Denver.  “I got a phone call from Archbishop (Urban) asking me to come and see him, and I was dumbfounded by his request that I go off to get a degree in social work.  It’s not something I ever would have thought of; it was one of the great blessings of my life,” said Msgr. Dunn.  Upon earning his master’s degree, he returned to Denver and was appointed assistant director of Catholic Charities and given the mission of establishing Catholic Charities offices in both Colorado Springs and the Greeley/Fort Collins area.

Over the years, Msgr. Dunn has stepped in to lead Catholic Charities of Central Colorado on several occasions and has been an integral force in where the organization is today.  “It was a natural choice to name this new award after a person who has made such tremendous contributions to the establishment of our agency,” said Andy Barton, CEO of Catholic Charities.

The award is given to a staff or community member who has made a significant impact on the lives of persons in need or furthering the mission of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.  This is a “lifetime of work” award, but there is no length of employment restrictions.

Six and a half years ago, Mrs. Polk sought Msgr. Dunn’s counsel before she decided to seek a position with the organization.  She was hired as VP of Organizational Excellence, primarily in charge of the accreditation process with the Council on Accreditation and Human Resources.  For a brief period, she served as the interim CEO, before Andy Barton joined the organization.  Shortly after, she was named Chief Operations Officer.   “Jen has made a tremendous impact on the organizational structure and program development of our agency,” said Barton.  “She is the perfect person to have as the first name on the list of recipients for our most prestigious honor.”

Rochelle Schlortt is the Chief Communications Officer for Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.

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