Monica O’Donoghue is the kind of person who exudes passion. It’s in the tone of her voice. It’s in the words she uses when she talks about what she does and what she loves. And it’s also in the story of her life.
Monica grew up in the Philadelphia area, attending high school at Merion Mercy Academy in Merion Station and college at Villanova University. Growing up in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic school taught her the importance of being involved and giving back. Catholic school has required service hours. Some students would complain about this. Not Monica. She took this as a lesson: it taught her how to fit giving into her life.
Even prior to high school, Monica was instilled with a sense of giving and duty by her parents, who gave their own time and money to a variety of causes growing up. They also spent holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving, giving meals to families in Camden, leaving a warm home to go door to door feeding families in need. In Monica’s family, she says, “giving back was just what you did.”
Monica spends a lot of her time as a member of the Friends of Cristo Rey. Cristo Rey is a high school in North Philadelphia. She has been part of the organization for 2 years. It’s an independent school (not a charter school), aptly called “the school that works.” Students attend class four days per week, rounding out their weeks working one to two days at partnering businesses in the Philadelphia area. The Friends of Cristo Rey provide students with experiences they wouldn’t normally get to do, like taking students ice skating, bowling, and even hiking in Valley Forge. According to Monica, the best part of this work is to help foster connections with and between the students, and to help them understand more about the world around them.
Because she loves bringing people together, she is also part of the Travis Manion Foundation PRUM Committee. The planning committee puts together a gala (this is their 4th annual) in which proceeds are donated to the Travis Manion Foundation. Travis was killed serving overseas 11 years ago, and his family created a foundation in his name, the money goes towards helping vets returning from overseas. It also supports reintroduction services. Monica heard about the organization from her friends, the owners of the Crossfit University City gym and sponsors of the gala, and in classic Monica style, decided she just had to get involved.
Monica’s day job at TD Bank isn’t directly tied to giving (though TD Bank does support corporate and individual giving to a variety of causes). This is part of why she feels so strongly about donating her time and money. She is a senior analyst for the corporate lending business unit, where she works on complex projects related to business strategy and various other initiatives. She is clearly passionate about what she does. In our interview, my last question for Monica was about the books, talks, or speeches that inspired her and helped her develop her philosophy of philanthropy. She didn’t have an answer. I believe there’s a reason for that. Monica doesn’t need something external to drive or inspire her to give – giving is just what Monica does.