Resident named McGivney Center director

Terry O'Connor of Trumbull has been named executive director of the McGivney Community Center in East Bridgeport. He will also continue to serve as executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center, a post that he has held for 20 years. Both youth centers are sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport and serve children of all faiths in the inner city.

O'Connor's appointment was unanimously approved by the McGivney Center board and by Msgr. Jerald Doyle, diocesan administrator.

The McGivney Community Center was founded to provide children with an educational "safe haven" from the dangers of the streets. Its after-school programs include computer literacy, learning center, tutoring, art and crafts, and health and recreation opportunities.

Anne McCrory, chancellor of the Diocese of Bridgeport, said the appointment was made because McGivney Center is facing financial challenges, and its services are vital to Bridgeport youth.

"At a time when many not-for-profit agencies are challenged to find greater efficiencies and new fund raising sources, we welcome Terry O'Connor's leadership," she said. "His fund-raising experience and overall management abilities will help to secure the future of McGivney Center and bring additional resources to the children it serves."

Both the McGivney and Shehan boards will remain active, with attorney Matt Reale serving as president of the McGivney Community Center and Lori Charlton, a partner in Audit Services at Deloitte & Touche in Stamford, serving as president of the Shehan Center board.

"Having known and worked with Terry O'Connor for over 20 years, we are thrilled to have someone with his experience join our team," Reale said." He understands our unique spirit and will introduce many new supporters to the McGivney Center as we strengthen our mission in the community."

"We look forward to continuing our work with Terry at the Shehan Center while coordinating efforts with McGivney for the benefit of the children of Bridgeport," Charlton said. "We believe that this move allows us to expand the awareness to our surrounding communities of the many challenges facing families all over Bridgeport."

McCrory said there is an affinity between both youth centers with their mix of recreation, social and educational and child development programs. Nearly 300 youth between the ages of 6 and 18 are enrolled in McGiveny's after-school, evening and summer programs, while the Cardinal Shehan Center serves more than 4,000 youth from its downtown site.

The McGivney Center is celebrating 20 years of service, while the Cardinal Shehan Center turned 50 this year. Both centers are funded by a mix of grants, special events, program fees, foundation and Diocesan support.

O'Connor said that the two agencies have a history of cooperation, with McGivney Center youth using the Cardinal Shehan Center pool and also participating in the First Tee Golf Program founded by former GE Chairman Jack Welch.

"The last few years have been difficult ones for non-profits, and the McGivney Center has struggled, but this is a great organization that is a unique resource for youth and families in the East Side of the city," O'Connor said.

He will be working the McGivney board to secure new funding sources, build additional support and make building improvements. He also believes that both agencies can share programs that will enrich the lives of youth.

O'Connor said that Alexis Bevins, a nine-year employee who has served as the interim director since October 2011, was named site director and will oversee day-to-day operations for McGivney.