Laurence Downes, the retired chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources, and Brother Frank Byrne, former president of Christian Brothers Academy, are the newest board members of Mercy Center, an Asbury Park nonprofit focused on improving the lives of people facing socio-economic challenges.
Downes, who led the Fortune 100 company for more than 24 years until his retirement in 2019, has had a long and impactful career in business, government and nonprofit work. Downes has previously chaired the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and the Drumthwacket Foundation.
He also previously chaired the Finance Council of the Catholic Diocese of Trenton for 10 years and has been a trustee of St. David the King Catholic Church in Princeton Junction since 1994.
“Larry has an incredible track record of success in reaching organizational goals. I am confident that his unique leadership style, business insight, and background working with the Catholic Church will help contribute to the growth of the Mercy Center,” said Kim Guadagno, executive director of Mercy Center.
Downes said it is a privilege to serve on Mercy Center’s board of trustees.
“I am looking forward to advancing the values of the Sisters of Mercy while serving the needs of the Greater Asbury Park community,” Downes said.
Brother Byrne has dedicated most of his life to Christian education and led multiple capital campaigns during his 12 years as president of Christian Brothers Academy, a Catholic high school for boys in Lincroft. These initiatives raised funds needed for additions to academic, administrative and athletic facilities and added millions of dollars to the school’s endowment for scholarships and other support programs across campus.
Brother Byrne grew up in the Red Bank area, where he attended St. James School and first met the Sisters of Mercy. He credits his early years with the Sisters of Mercy for providing the foundation for his career as a religious brother, educator and organization leader.
“Mercy Center has done an outstanding job in providing services for the people in the Asbury Park area for over 36 years, and I look forward to being a part of this organization,” he said. “I am hoping that my experience in education for over 40 years will be helpful to the important work being done at Mercy Center.”
Guadagno said Mercy Center would benefit from Brother Byrne’s wisdom and values.
“He brings the experience of education and the compassion of the Christian ways to Mercy Center,” Guadagno said. “We look forward to his incredible contribution and strength to take our organization to the next level.”
About Mercy Center
Mercy Center strives to alleviate generational poverty in the Greater Asbury Park area with programs and services that empower, enrich and educate. The center offers emergency services, including a food pantry, clothing and utility bill assistance for struggling families, and its resource center offers resources, referrals and counseling. The Mercy Center’s Sisters Academy of New Jersey is a tuition-free middle school in Asbury Park that serves girls in grades 4–8 who come from economically challenged families in the city and surrounding communities.