Kathleen Mooney knows what happens when good programs in schools run out of money. Students on the edge can no longer find help and many drop out of school.
In the early 1990s, Mooney managed a government-funded program called the Stay in School Initiatives Program, working in an inner city community with about 50 students, aged 12 to 16, who were seen as likely to quit school.
"Some of the kids would go to school without breakfast or lunch. Some kids dealt with extraordinary issues at home, through no fault of their own, perhaps alcohol, drugs, and many of them were in single-parent homes. These kids were so incredibly resilient," she said.
The program's success rate was flawless. During its three-year operation, every student graduated from high school. Unfortunately, when funding was withdrawn and all grant applications were rejected, the program ended.
"I held kids in my arms as they were crying. I swore from that day forward, back in 1993, I would never be in that position again," said Mooney.
"If you don't have the money for a program, the bottom line is you can't help people. From a social services perspective and financial perspective, it's no money, no program. You can't help kids, you can't help seniors, and you can't help the cause you're passionately connected to."
Mooney, 46, has been named the first executive director of the Edmonton Catholic Schools Foundation.
Edmonton Catholic Schools established the foundation earlier this year to raise awareness of the benefits of Catholic education. It will also raise money to fund programs within the Catholic school system.
As the executive director, Mooney will guide the board's policies, manage its daily operations and be the public face of the foundation.
"The Edmonton Catholic School District is our biggest supporter as we are beginning to grow and build the foundation," she said.
"What's of primary importance is that we can't have programs and we can't help the kids if we don't have the financial support from the community," she said.
Mooney will play a key role in determining which programs to fund, based on the foundation's three areas of focus: enhanced Catholic identity, community of service and open communications.
"When I saw the position posting, I felt that I was called upon to accept it because I have the experience of working with children and the understanding of knowing what happens when you don't have money," she said.
"Throughout my career, I've always been dedicated and passionate about children and youth, those kinds of causes."
Mooney is from Montreal. She and her husband Stanley have lived in Edmonton for almost 10 years. They attend St. Charles Church.
She has a diploma in social services from Dawson College, and a certificate in public relations management from McGill University. She has worked for the Boys and Girls Club, working specifically with education, recreation and youth protection.
Outside of work, Mooney's interests include photography, theatre, movies and researching her family's ancestry.