Dennis C. Walczyk, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, and Mary Elizabeth Hurson, vice president of Family Stabilization Services of Catholic Charities Brooklyn Queens, were honored by the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors at a reception in Albany recently.
The reception was part of the council's two-day convening in February, in which Catholic Charities personnel from throughout New York state advocate with elected and state agency officials on important issues of concern to the poor and vulnerable.
Walczyk received the Bishop Francis J. Mugavero Award for outstanding contributions to the work of charity and social justice. The award is named for the late bishop of Brooklyn.
Hurson received the Vincenza DeFazio Award for outstanding contributions to the work of New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors. The award is named for a deceased long-time attorney with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
Walczyk was appointed CEO of Catholic Charities in 2003, six years after joining the agency as chief operating officer. In 2018, he was named president and CEO.
Walczyk oversees all program, service, fiscal and infrastructure operations, including the annual appeal, and is responsible for financial accountability and strategic direction and planning. The Buffalo native served as executive director of Crisis Services for 10 years before joining Catholic Charities. He previously held positions with Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, the Erie County Department of Mental Health and as a community organizer on Buffalo's East Side. Walcyzk is active in the Buffalo community where he sits on numerous charitable boards. He and his wife, Beth, are longtime Buffalo residents. They have two daughters, and one grandson.
Born in Flushing to Irish immigrants, Hurson has been with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens for 42 years. Since 2005, she has served as chairwoman of the NYS Council of Catholic Charities Directors' Committee for Children and Families. Hurson's connection to CCBQ goes back to her time as a teenage volunteer in its Operation FUN program.
After graduating from Fordham University, she began working for CCBQ's Training for Life program for developmentally challenged children and adults. After completing her master's degree in social work from Hunter College, she held a number of posts before being named vice president of Family Stabilization Services.
She has previously served as an adjunct faculty member in human services and social work at St. John's University and Fordham's School of Social Services.