Tom Foley has held leadership positions over the last four 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 500 events here, in Ireland and Northern Ireland. He has testified more than 50 times before governmental and legislative bodies in Harrisburg, Belfast, Dublin and Washington, chaired 9 statewide Boards and Commissions and served in state and national leadership positons 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 an honorary doctorate (jointly, with his wife Michele) in Humane Letters. 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), as Chair of the Conference of Mercy Colleges in America and as Chair (and now President) of AICUP, the association of 90+ independent non-profit colleges in PA (the second largest such grouping in America). During his time as President of the statewide United Way, Tom was a key leader in the effort that led to the first PA public investment in pre-school education and now serves as co-chair of the Governor’s Early Learning Investment Committee (ELIC).
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 that was itself larger than the entire state governments of 20 states). Tom helped create a network of 80 Job Centers across PA, widely recognized at that time (Harvard Kennedy School Innovation Award semifinalist) 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). He co-founded the non-partisan Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ—recipient of both the Reebok and the Council of Europe Human Rights Prizes) and co-chaired (with civil rights lawyer/author Tom Hadden) its first public assembly. Continuing his volunteer work, he spent four years in the 1990s as Chair of PennSERVE (which he helped to create in 1987), the PA-bred precursor to AmeriCorps. He then 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 as 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, whom he served as speechwriter and legislative aide. 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.
Tom has been the recipient of over 100 awards for his endeavors, was named a Top 100 Irish American in both education and law (one of only two to receive both honors), is the recipient of the Centennial Medal for Service, the Liberty Bell Award and numerous humanitarian awards, and is an honorary member of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Tom and his wife Michele, a lifelong educator, are parents of three sons, an historian, an architect and a family physician, and have four grandchildren. Tom grew up in a family of 12 siblings, and is the grandson of Irish immigrants.