Holy Cross Ministries selects new CEO to guide the organization
Mary Emmie Gardner came to Utah in 1982 as a volunteer with a Sisters of the Holy Cross program. She planned to stay for a couple years and return home to Chicago, but 36 years later, she has the Sisters of the Holy Cross to thank for her life in Utah. Now, she will be leading Holy Cross Ministries as the CEO of the nonprofit.
“It’s like coming full circle,” she said.
Gardner is expected to step into her role on July 23, and will be replacing Maria Farrington, who stepped down as CEO earlier this year.
Gardner graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, which was founded by the women’s religious organization Sisters of the Holy Cross, and came to Salt Lake City to be a refugee resettlement worker for Catholic Community Services. She was then hired by Catholic Community Services and met her future husband, so she decided to stick around.
She became a certified clinical social worker and began working for Primary Children’s Hospital as a therapist. She worked in various roles over her 27 years at the hospital, from director of behavioral cervices to an administrator for the Cancer and Transplant Center. Then, she took a role with Intermountain Healthcare working on statewide senior services and community partnerships.
Through it all, she continued to find joy in helping those in need.
“For me, it’s always been about doing the right thing for patients, and here for clients,” she said.
She retired last December and, when she heard about the position at Holy Cross Ministries, thought it would be the perfect next step. The organization is sponsored by Sisters of the Holy Cross.
Raymond Dardano, chairman of the board of trustees at Holy Cross Ministries, said that there were several qualified candidates who applied for the position, but Gardner’s background in similar organizations as well as her enthusiasm for the work Holy Cross Ministries does stood out.
“(She is) someone who appreciated, understood and demonstrated a passion for the mission,” he said.
Gardner said that she felt humbled and honored to be selected for the position.
“It’s a real honor, because I feel like it is my opportunity to give back for all that the sisters have given me over the years,” she said.
She said that the services at Holy Cross Ministries fill specific needs in the community, which is what attracted her to the organization. Plus, with her background in healthcare, she enjoys that decisions are evidence based and driven by data.
For example, the organization is currently performing a study about early education in Park City.
“To me, that is really being good fiscal stewards for those donors who are giving money to the agency,” she said. “I think that’s amazing because we can stand in front of our donors and say, ‘Let us show you the outcomes. Let us show you the impact that we are having in the community.’”
She plans to continue to build partnerships with other community organizations, and meet needs as they come. She sees some opportunities to grow services, but said she is being guided by a phrase that is often heard among the Sisters of the Holy Cross, “Let go and let God.”
And she is prepared to do just that.
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