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Mark Shriver named as first lay president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, and Ana Chapa is school’s new executive vice president

On Nov. 29, 2021, Mark K. Shriver will become the first lay president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland, and Ana Chapa will become the school’s new executive vice president. The announcement of the school’s new leaders was made on Nov. 9 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the Eastern Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which sponsor the school. (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland – which provides a Catholic, college preparatory education and an innovative Corporate Work Study Program to students from low-income families in the Washington, D.C. area – will have its first lay president, and a longtime staff member will serve as its new executive vice president.

On Nov. 9, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the Eastern Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which sponsor Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, announced that starting on Nov. 29, Mark K. Shriver – who has 30 years of leadership serving at-risk youth and children in underserved areas – will become the school’s new president, and Ana Chapa, who has been part of the school’s leadership for 12 years, will assume the newly created position of executive vice president there.

The school, which opened its doors in 2007, had been led by Salesian priests, most recently by Father Michael Conway, the school’s president from 2015 until this past spring, when he left to serve as treasurer for his order’s province serving the Eastern United States and Canada. Father Conway will continue to serve on the school’s Board of Directors.

“I’m very excited and very grateful for the opportunity,” Shriver said in an interview, praising the students, faculty and families of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School. “I’m excited to learn from them and to work with them and to pray with them.”

In recent years, Shriver has served as senior vice president of U.S. Programs & Advocacy at Save the Children and as president of Save the Children Action Network, its political advocacy arm that he founded in 2013 and that focuses on issues including increasing access to high quality early childhood education for children across the country. Save the Children’s U.S. programs reached more than 1.1 million children in rural communities in 2020 through early childhood education and hunger and nutrition services. Shriver joined Save the Children in 2003 and developed the agency’s domestic early childhood and school-age education programs, and he also created its domestic emergencies programs to ensure the safety and well-being of children before, during and after disasters.

Since 2019, Ana Chapa has served as the vice president of organizational growth at Don Bosco Cristo Rey, with responsibility for development and fundraising. She joined the school’s staff in 2009 as the assistant principal for student life, and later served as the executive director of its Corporate Work Study Program, managing the placement of students in the offices and job sites of more than 100 corporate partners.

Chapa in a statement said, “I remain honored and humbled by the opportunity to continue to increase the impact Don Bosco Cristo Rey is making in the lives of so many students and families.”

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, praised the appointments. In a statement, he thanked the school’s Board of Directors and its search committee, saying, “The committee’s diligence led them to recommend two outstanding choices: Ms. Chapa, a distinguished Don Bosco Cristo Rey educator and administrator, and Mr. Shriver, a lifelong Catholic dedicated to the Christian principles of serving those in our community, our country, and around the world, particularly children and their families. The committee’s steadfast efforts, even with the difficulties posed by the pandemic, are especially appreciated.”

Shriver praised Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School as “truly, the school that works!” That motto of the school has a two-fold meeting. In the Corporate Work Study Program, its students gain professional work experience at leading Washington-area businesses and institutions and earn money to pay for a significant part of their education costs. Since Don Bosco Cristo Rey had its first graduating class in 2011, all 819 of its graduates in the past 10 years have been accepted into college, and many of them are the first members of their families to attend college. The school currently serves 374 students, and 75 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 23 percent are African American or from African immigrant families.

“It’s had a tremendous impact,” Chapa said. “It has really opened doors for young people, to see the opportunities they can have.”

In a photo from May 2019, members of that year’s graduating class at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park embrace and congratulate each other after then-Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrated their Baccalaureate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

Reflecting on what students are able to accomplish at the school through hard work in the classroom and at their work sites, Shriver noted how South African leader Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Shriver added, “A high quality education in high school sets you on the way to college and beyond.”

Both Shriver and Chapa praised the legacy of St. John Bosco, whose name graces the school and whose spirit shapes its educational mission. Known as Don Bosco, from the Italian word for father, the priest in the mid-1800s began providing an education and a place to live to poor boys and young men in Turin, Italy. Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales, popularly known as the Salesians, and the order’s website explains that he was inspired by that saint’s “simple spirituality and philosophy of kindness.” The order says its mission “is to evangelize and educate young people, especially those who are poor and at risk, in the style of Don Bosco.”

Chapa said Salesians will continue to serve at and be involved in Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School. “We’ll continue to be a Salesian school, led by lay people,” she said.

She noted, “St. John Bosco’s goal was always to serve the young and the poor, and mold them into good Christians and honest citizens.” 

That saint believed that “for young people to be successful, they need to be in a loving, nurturing environment where they’re learning real skills,” she said, adding that at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, students get that through a Catholic education that features a rigorous academic program, and they gain work experience through the Corporate Work Study Program.

“Our Catholic identity is imbedded and infused in every aspect of what we do,” Chapa said. “Our goal is that these young people spend these four years walking with God and growing in their faith journey.”

Mark K. Shriver, a longtime administrator with Save the Children with extensive experience in leadership roles serving at-risk youth and children in underserved areas, becomes the new president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Maryland, on Nov. 29, 2021. (Photo by Laurence L. Levin)

Shriver who with his family attends Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland, said he was inspired by the Catholic faith and the lives of service of his parents, Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics.

“My parents were daily communicants who taught me not only about Jesus and the Gospels, but they also taught me the importance of listening to others and working with others. No one does anything by themselves. We’re better when we’re together,” he said.

Shriver pointed out how Pope Francis’s “definition of mercy is to be with people, to accompany them on their journey, in good times and bad times. That’s what service is about.”

He noted how his parents “were learning from Peace Corps volunteers and Special Olympics athletes at the same time they were working to provide opportunities for them.”

Shriver hopes to do the same as president of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, to join the teachers, staff, students and families there, “and work with them and learn from them,” he said.

From 1994 to 2002, Shriver was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, where he was the first chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University. A New York Times best-selling author, his children’s book 10 Hidden Heroes, a seek-and-find book about essential workers during the pandemic, was published in March by Loyola Press. In 2012, he wrote A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver, which was published by Henry Holt and Company and focused on his father’s devotion to his Catholic faith and his family, his life of public service, and his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Shriver also wrote Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis, which was published by Random House in 2016.

Shriver’s wife Jeanne serves as chair of the Board of Directors for Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac, Maryland, where their daughter Emma is a junior. Their daughter Molly graduated from Boston College in 2020 and works for a criminal justice organization, the REFORM Alliance, and their son Tommy is a senior at Boston College studying philosophy and economics.

Ana Chapa, part of the leadership at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park since 2009, becomes the school’s new executive vice president on Nov. 29. She recently served as the school’s vice president of organizational growth, with responsibility for its development and fundraising. She earlier served as the school’s assistant principal for student life and as the executive director of its Corporate Work Study Program. (Photo courtesy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington)

Chapa earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2000, majoring in Spanish, theology, justice and peace studies. She has a master’s of social work degree from The Catholic University of America. Before coming to Don Bosco Cristo Rey, Chapa taught theology at St. John’s College High School in Washington and served as director of campus ministry at Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, Texas.

At Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, Chapa said she has been inspired by the motivation of students there who take “real ownership of their tomorrows. They know they have to put in hard work to change their and their families’ circumstances.”

Chapa said she has likewise been inspired by the school’s graduates, and she noted that in recent years, more than one-half dozen of them have come back to the school to work there, with a “commitment to pulling others up, as they were pulled up.”

Praising the appointment of the new leaders at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, Charles Abell, chair of the school’s Board of Directors, said, “We are emerging from the pandemic stronger academically and financially. Ana and Mark will lead Don Bosco Cristo Rey to a new level of success and open doors for young women and men with the motivation to excel in our demanding program.”

Since July 1, Rich Dumais, who had been the chair of the school’s board, served as its interim president. He previously served as the chief operating officer at the Washington Jesuit Academy and as a business leader and lawyer.