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Longtime Board Chairman Donna Bethell Retires

September 13, 2019

Longtime board member Donna Bethell stepped down from her role on the college’s Board of Directors this past Saturday at their quarterly meeting. 

Bethell joined the Christendom Board in 1998 and became Chairman of the Board in 2001, and then Vice Chairman in February of 2019 when Steve O’Keefe became Chairman. In her 21 years on the board, Bethell has been a trusted advisor to the college, and has shown a great commitment to Christendom’s mission. Bethell has supported the college through promising times and difficult times, and her steadfast years of service to the college are deeply appreciated and show her immense leadership skills. 

In December of 2018, Bethell was awarded the college’s Pope St. Gregory the Great Stewardship Award for Outstanding Service to Christendom College. In his remarks, college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell said that Bethell had shown incredible prudence, sound judgement, clarity of mind, a love for order and propriety, and on a number of occasions, great courage, over the course of her tenure on the Board. 

“Throughout her time she has revealed a deep commitment to Christendom College and during her tenure has manifested on numerous occasions, too many to recount now, tremendous heartfelt support for our mission and vision,” he said. 

In addition to her service at Christendom, Bethell was the president of Radiance Services Company, a technology-licensing firm. She has also served on the board of directors of Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation that operates Sandia National Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Bethell, who is married to writer and author Tom Bethell, also served as a member of the National Advisory Board of Women Affirming Life, Inc. Prior to joining Radiance in 1990, she was an Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.  Before entering government service, she maintained her own law practice in Washington, D.C.

She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the National Law Center of George Washington University, and she received a B.A. in physics from American University. 

Bethell has helped the college to fulfill many of its goals, as Christendom has flourished under her tenure. Under her leadership the college’s enrollment more than doubled, climbing from 240 in 1998, to its current enrollment of 493. During her time on the board, Christendom opened the St. Catherine of Siena residence hall in 2000, the Saint John the Evangelist Library in 2004, and St. Clare’s residence hall in 2018. 

Bethell has been a steadfast supporter of the Call to Greatness Campaign and the construction of the new Christ the King Chapel, and was present when Pope Benedict XVI blessed the chapels cornerstone in March of 2008. 

Donna Bethell was a champion for the college and its mission,” says Board Chairman O’Keefe.  “Her steady head in guiding the college and her staunch defense of its mission and independence were indispensable during a period of dramatic growth of the college. She will be deeply missed by all who served with her.

Upon Bethell’s resignation, President O’Donnell remarked, “I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Donna Bethell for her 21 years’ service on the board of directors and her 18-year tenure as chairman. Her prudence, sound judgment and leadership combined with her deep faith and strength of character gave invaluable guidance to Christendom College for more than two decades. Her support and counsel meant a great deal to me personally during this time. When a history of this college is written, Donna Bethell’s contribution will be acknowledged as a key factor in the success we have achieved with the grace of God. We wish Donna and Tom the best and are delighted that she will continue on the College board of advisors.” 

The Christendom Community has been blessed by the service of such an intelligent, prudent, and eloquent woman. The community wishes her all the best moving forward, and is thankful that she will remain on the board of advisors.