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Tom Foley has held leadership positions in Pennsylvania over more than three decades in four fields: education, workforce development, volunteer service and public policy. He is the author of over 150 published articles on a wide range of subjects and was keynote speaker at more than 300 events in Pennsylvania alone and several hundred elsewhere. He has testified more than 50 times before governmental and legislative bodies in Harrisburg, Belfast, Dublin and Washington, chaired 10 statewide PA Boards and Commissions and served in state and national leadership positions in voluntary service, education, workforce development and public policy.
As educator, Foley is a first generation college grad--thanks to scholarships from Dartmouth College, University College (Dublin, Ireland) and Yale Law School and holds several honorary doctorates (one with his wife Michele). As President of the United Way of Pennsylvania, Foley was a key leader in the effort that led to the first PA public investment in pre-school education and is currently co-chair of the Governor’s Early Learning Investment Committee (ELIC). He served almost a decade as President of Mount Aloysius College (named by the White House in 2015 as one of four “Engines of Opportunity” in the country for its work with low income students) and as Chair (and now President) of AICUP, the association of 90+ independent non-profit colleges in PA.
On workforce issues, Tom served in Governor Casey’s Cabinet as the youngest Secretary of Labor and Industry in PA history—the agency that was home to federal and state job training and citizen service initiatives, and larger than the governments of 20 states. Tom helped create a network of 80 Job Centers across PA, widely recognized at that time as a national model for government service delivery and workforce development. After that service, he joined the US Labor Department as Regional Assistant to Secretary Alexis Herman, where he led efforts on lifelong learning and workplace safety, and from whom he received the Secretary’s Award for Exemplary Public Service.
As public service volunteer, Tom spent two years as a fulltime volunteer with the Nobel Prize winning Peace People in Belfast at the height of that country’s Troubles (while on leave from Yale Law School), and continued to volunteer, work and write on those issues for the next thirty years. He co-founded the non-partisan Committee on the Administration of Justice and co-chaired (with civil rights lawyer Tom Hadden) its first public assembly. He spent four years as the chair of PennSERVE (which he helped to create in 1987), the PA-bred precursor to AmeriCorps. He spent more than a decade leading the two largest volunteer-based organizations in PA--as President of the United Way of Pennsylvania (a PA network of 89 local UWs) and CEO of the second largest chapter of the Red Cross in the country (where he spent time on the front lines in Haiti after the earthquake and in Mississippi and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina).
On public policy, Tom served in both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, working for Congressman James Shannon and then-Senator Joe Biden. He did intensive work in DC on issues involving peace and justice in Northern Ireland and Central America. He has written on a wide range of public policy topics, including on issues of justice, foreign policy, preschool education, sports, workforce development and Irish history.
Foley, who has been honored often for his work in a wide range of fields, was named a Top 100 Irish American in both education and law (one of only two to receive both honors), named to the PA Power 100 list (with 35 elected officials and 50+ corporate CEOs), is the recipient of the Centennial Medal for Service, the Liberty Bell Award, numerous humanitarian awards, and is an honorary member of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Foley and his wife Michele—a lifelong educator--are parents of three sons, an historian, an architect and a family physician, and have five grandchildren. Foley grew up in the Philadelphia area in a family of 12 children. His paternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland.
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