May 2024 Newsletter – Part I

Announcing Our Inaugural Class: ISPD Circle of Catholic Champions
(Part I)

In celebration of our 35th anniversary in June 2024, ISPD is announcing our first Circle of Catholic Champions. This is a combination of individual Catholic leaders, parishes, schools, and (arch)dioceses that ISPD has worked with in the past 35 years. They represent the following traits that exhibit true Catholic Development – Advancement – Stewardship excellence:

  • Commitment to engaging people
  • Belonging leads to believing culture
  • Proactive thinking
  • Excellent stewardship of resources they have been given
  • Collaborative leadership
  • Ability to create and share an innovative and dynamic vision
  • Mission-driven results
  • Commitment to bringing people to Christ and Christ to people

This first year we are honoring eight individuals, schools, and/or parishes. Those who will be able to attend will be awarded their commemorative  plaque at the ISPD Summer 2024 Development School in New Orleans this June 18 – 20.

We are excited to name the recipients.

  • Father Dennis Hartigan
  • Father Jim Manning
  • Archbishop Moeller High School; Cincinnati, OH
  • Holy Name of Jesus Parish and School; New Orleans, LA
  • Jesuit High School; New Orleans, LA
  • Mount de Sales Academy; Catonsville, MD
  • Ursula Academy; Cincinnati, OH
  • Scecina Memorial High School; Indianapolis, IN


Father Dennis Hartigan

We met Father Denny in a two-day workshop that ISPD was presenting in Columbus, Ohio in the 1990’s. Back in the early days of the company, we hosted two-day workshops throughout the country, usually putting on 10-12 per year in different cities. Father Denny was in attendance as principal of St. Joseph Catholic High School in Fremont, OH. From the first day, we connected; he got it. He understood that development was all about people and building relationships. Shortly after the workshop, ISPD was invited to come to Fremont, OH to do an assessment of the school’s development efforts. We found the school to be alive and vibrant, and Father Denny’s leadership was engaging and encouraging. He had a big and positive personality that was magnetic to those around him. It did not take too long, with his leadership, to help bring the development efforts at St. Joseph High School to the next level. Our focus was what we call the SPD (Strategic Plan for Development) with emphasis on Major Gift work. When we wrapped up the contract, we felt confident that the school would continue to flourish. It did.

Working in the Diocese of Toledo, Father Denny was transferred to Lima Central Catholic (LCC) High School as the president. Shortly after he took over, he called ISPD, and we worked with LCC on a Long-Range Strategic Plan which engaged over 200 people. This planning process led to a $9,000,000 capital campaign, which was unheard of in those days – especially in Lima, OH. The campaign hit its goal!

Father Denny moved on from there to Toledo Central Catholic High School, and ISPD was invited to work with them on a Long-Range Strategic Plan. Hundreds of people were identified,  invited, and involved. The Plan energized the school. Again, Father’s leadership was at the forefront – bold, energetic, and visionary. It was also during this time that he completed his PhD in Education with his dissertation focusing on Enrollment Management.

It is always a pleasure to meet and work with Catholic leaders who do not make the school or the parish about themselves. Father Dennis Hartigan is one of those people who continue to serve in that spirit.


Father Jim Manning

Much like Father Denny, we met Father Jim at the ISPD 3-day Development School that we were hosting in Atlantic City in the late 1990’s. He was pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish and School in Kettering, OH. Father Jim was just coming off a capital campaign that he admitted was one of the most challenging ventures he had ever taken on as a pastor. Working without outside counsel and relying on his own people and organizational skills, Father Jim was able to hit the campaign goal, but like he said for many years afterward, he would have done it much differently knowing what he learned in the coming years.

At the ISPD Development School in Atlantic City, Father Jim talked with us about the need for a Long-Range Pastoral Plan for St. Albert the Great. Shortly after the conference, we began to work with parish and school leaders, beginning first with an overall Assessment and then leading into the planning process which involved hundreds. It was clear to see why the capital campaign had hit its goal under Father Jim’s leadership; he was personable, driven, engaging, and always wanting to do what would best enhance the faith life of his parish and school families. We followed the planning process into implementation with numerous implementation teams; the process transformed the parish and lived up to The Gallup Organization’s theme: Belonging leads to believing. In fact, it was several years later that Father Jim attended The Gallup Organization’s annual conference and brought back to ISPD and his parish the major tenets of employee engagement and how this reflects the involvement and enthusiasm of employers in their work and workplace. Much of the growth of the ISPD philosophy can be attributed to Father Jim and his mentorship with our company, and his involvement as our spiritual advisor in the formative years of ISPD.

Father Jim went on to serve as president of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, OH, and ISPD had the opportunity to work with him on the school’s Long-Range Strategic Plan and then on into a $9 million capital campaign. These were tough times, because about the time we kicked off the Silent Phase of the campaign, the bottom fell out of the economy. Interestingly, the campaign eventually hit its goal, and the main reasons were the groundwork that was laid by Father Jim and the relationships that he developed and nurtured before and after his tenure.

In October 2006, Father Chuck Mentrup died in an automobile wreck on I-75 between Cincinnati and Franklin, OH. As we wrote about after his passing, Father Chuck was “one of the good guys” who was all about shepherding his flock. We had worked with him while he was principal of Bishop Fenwick High School in Middletown, OH. Before he passed away, Father had invited ISPD to work with St. Mary the Assumption Parish in Franklin, OH where he had been named pastor. We were moving into a capital campaign which grew out of their Long-Range Pastoral Plan. Coincidentally, Father Jim Manning was appointed by the archbishop to take over as pastor of St. Mary Parish, filling the shoes that Father Chuck had left.

There could not have been a better choice. With his calming demeanor and strong pastoral presence, Father Jim took that parish, in the midst of their grieving, and led them forward, making the bold decision, with input from hundreds, to move the parish from Franklin, OH to Springboro, OH. This was a great move, and ISPD had the opportunity to work with Father Jim on a capital campaign that ended up hitting their goal and building a new church which today is growing in leaps and bounds. Father was the trailblazer; he was the rock that led these people through some challenging years. From St. Albert the Great to Archbishop Alter to St. Mary Parish, Father Jim Manning has been the type of Catholic leader ISPD is proud to call our friend, colleague, and mentor.


Archbishop Moeller High School; Cincinnati, OH

In 2016, ISPD was invited by the president and the board of Archbishop Moeller High School to work with the school on creating a Strategic Growth Plan. For years, the school had an outstanding reputation as a athletic powerhouse, especially in football. Gerry Faust, who went on to serve as head coach at the University of Notre Dame from 1981 to 1985, served as head coach at Moeller from 1962 to 1980 where he tallied a mark of 178-23-2 and won four high school football championships. He had built the program from scratch.

Marshall Hyzdu, the new president at Moeller when we were invited, knew that he had to build on the school’s athletic reputation, but he also knew that in order to stay relevant in the coming years, Moeller needed to also focus on the Student Experience, Academic Excellence, Technology Innovation, Catholic Identity, and the Fine Arts. The first step was working with the board and creating their new mission statement – one of the best ones we have ever been part of. “Archbishop Moeller High School. Catholic. Marianist. Forming Our Students into Remarkable Men.” This was the common denominator that was the theme of the planning process.

Out of the Strategic Growth Plan grew the plans for a $15+ million capital campaign. Under the leadership of the board; the five Operational Chair couples; Marshall Hyzdu; and Mary Fischer, Vice-President of Advancement, the campaign soared and far surpassed its original goal, raising over $20 million. Here is the catch. Halfway through the campaign, COVID reared his ugly head, and different strategic actions were taken. There was talk about the campaign being put on hold, and it was for a couple of months, but then under the above leadership, everything kicked back in and through virtual communication, selected in-person conversations, and numerous phone calls and Zoom visits, Archbishop Moeller hit their original goal and zoomed right on past it.

Less than a year ago, ISPD was invited to come to Moeller and conduct another Financial Feasibility Study with the major focus this time on constructing an off-campus athletic facility. After speaking with numerous people and building off the success of the previous campaign, we found support for this next campaign and projected the school could raise (once again) over $20 million.

At first glance, it would be easy to say that Moeller is an affluent school with a strong financial base. While some would say that is true, it is interesting to note that they had never raised more than $5 million at any time in their history. With a new administration, a focused advancement effort, outstanding board leadership, and new mission, great things began to happen. They have built their future around that same theme that works every time, but one that few fully understand: Belonging leads to believing. Archbishop Moeller is truly a relational culture.


Holy Name of Jesus Parish and School; New Orleans, LA

In early 2020, ISPD began working with Holy Name of Jesus Parish and School (HNJ) in New Orleans. We were referred to the pastor, Father Mark Thibodeaux, S.J., by capital campaign leaders at Jesuit High School where we had just wrapped up a successful $30+ million campaign.

One of the first steps we took, before launching the Financial Feasibility Study, was to put an Executive Committee in place. While a few campaign office members changed over the course of the contract, there were four leaders from HNJ who met every week with ISPD for over two years – Father Mark; Kirsch Williams, principal; Amy Nolan, advancement director; and Liz Creel, volunteer and one of the campaign’s chairs. Father Mark, Kirsch, and Amy did an outstanding job in identifying and inviting the Steering Committee that worked with the Exploration – Discovery – Feasibility Phase. The results were positive; we projected that the parish and school could raise approximately $5 million. After much discussion, it was decided that $1 million would go to the church and $4 million would go to the school. The church would use the money raised to construct interior bathrooms, a new bridal suite, and an accessibility entrance. The school would build a new building (classrooms for infants through PK3, 2nd floor bathrooms, new elevator, and have the building structurally sound for the addition of a future gym/community center). We kicked off the campaign in September 2022.

Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work with a lot of executive committees at parishes and schools. This is the first group we put together in working with a new client. The group at HNJ was exceptional. They were always positive and always interested in hearing what parish and school families had to say. Father Mark was a new pastor at Holy Name, and he was the one who hired Kirsch as the principal and they both hired Amy as the advancement director. All three were constantly on the same page, collaborating, and building the future together. When Liz Creel was added as a volunteer, it was a great move. Liz and her husband Terry had been one of the chair couples for the Jesuit High School campaign, and Liz knew everybody in New Orleans.

With a capital campaign, oftentimes success depends upon whether the leadership is willing to listen to outside counsel. Trust and communication are two important words in the relationship. The Executive Committee at HNJ listened; they learned; they understood the language to use and not to use; they trusted the process and came to realize that three words make or break a campaign: timing, urgency, and momentum.

Before the campaign went public, HNJ had already hit the goal of $5 million. Close to 75 families were involved as leaders; Father Mark and Kirsch had numerous successful visits, and both made it a priority to build relationships. New connections were formed; new possibilities arose; new leads were followed. With Amy Nolan keeping the day-to-day operation on track, helping design the campaign materials and supervise the video production, and writing a number of key grants to local and regional foundations, the marketing was superb. Kirsch ignited the school community, and under her leadership Holy Name of Jesus School was globally recognized as a Cognia School of Distinction. In addition, during the campaign, they formed an academic partnership with Loyola University serving as a model school for the Archdiocese of New Orleans for those seeking to build university partnerships. Liz Creel continued to do what she does best – making connections and opening doors for the pastor and principal. Father Mark became the champion of excellence visiting over 100 people one-on-one and inviting their participation in the campaign.

With the $5 million goal achieved, HNJ set a “stretch” goal of $7 million, and when the campaign wrapped up they had raised over $7.6 million, engaged hundreds of people, and lived up to the theme of belonging leads to believing. The HNJ Community now believes in a vision that took many years to come to life. It all came down to the two words ISPD sees over and over when it comes to campaign success: LEADERSHIP and ATTITUDE.


Note: Part II will feature the accomplishments of the next set of  “ISPD Circle of Catholic Champions”:

  • Jesuit High School; New Orleans, LA
  • Mount de Sales Academy; Catonsville, MD
  • Ursula Academy; Cincinnati, OH
  • Scecina Memorial High School; Indianapolis, IN

This newsletter was written by ISPD president Frank Donaldson. Join us each month as one of the ISPD associates shares her/his thoughts on how to grow your Operational Vitality efforts.

ISPD: We stand ready to partner with you and your parish and/or school leaders in creating that new strategic growth plan, in conducting a feasibility study and capital campaign, in enhancing your enrollment management efforts, in assessing your development/advancement processes, in creating that written strategic plan for development/advancement/stewardship, in working with you to build the people base in your parish, and much more.

Please join us this summer (June 18 – 20) at the New Orleans Riverside Hilton as ISPD celebrates our 35th anniversary with our annual Development School. This year’s theme: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. Visit for more information.

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