Washington D.C., Nov 17, 2012 / 05:11 pm (CNA).- An organization of Catholic donors has chosen Alexia K. Kelley, an Obama policy advisor with connections to abortion-supporting politicians and a controversial advocacy group, as its new president and CEO.
“Alexia has a distinguished record of leadership and service in the church, the nonprofit world and government," said William F. Raskob, chairman of the board of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA).
In a Nov. 14 statement announcing Kelley's appointment, he praised her "strong commitment to her faith" and "keen understanding of the broad scope of the nation’s religious and charitable organizations."
Kelley will be succeeding the organization's president of more than 30 years, Dr. Francis J. Butler, who retired several months ago.
Leaders of the group – which consists of private donors and foundations that engage in Catholic philanthropy – applauded her for the expansive network and vast amount of experience she brings with her into the position.
For the past three years, Kelley has worked closely with key members of the Obama administration.
In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the Department of Health and Human Services.
During the past year, she has worked as senior policy advisor at the White House office for faith-based partnerships.
Kelley, who holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, had previously worked for several years at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an anti-poverty initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
She later co-founded and served as the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a social justice advocacy organization.
The group – which has since closed its office and shifted its presence to the internet – was criticized by numerous bishops for causing confusion about the priority of moral issues by downplaying the importance of fundamental concerns like abortion, while giving heavy weight to issues such as the environment.
Kelly was a religious advisor for the 2004 presidential campaign of Catholic senator John Kerry, whose support for abortion raised controversy.
She also advocated heavily for the confirmation of pro-abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition to her steadfast support for abortion, Sebelius is controversial for her key role in issuing the federal contraception mandate that requires employers – including religious schools, hospitals and charitable organizations – to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and drugs that can cause an early abortion.
That mandate been denounced by bishops in every U.S. diocese and is currently the subject of more than 30 religious liberty lawsuits. Catholic service organizations have warned that they may be forced to close their doors rather than violate their consciences and follow the mandate's demands, which would result in great harm to the needy people they serve.
Although she had ties at that time to both the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, Kelley's position does not appear to have been formally connected to the mandate.
Taking on her new position, Kelley said that she looks forward to "making a positive impact in society, particularly through serving the most vulnerable."
Both Kelley and Raskob were unavailable for comment on Nov. 15 and 16.