Diocese hires new school marketing director, director of finance

FALL RIVER, Mass. — In its report last fall, the Fall River Diocese Task Force on Catholic Education recommended the hiring of a communication/marketing professional to support and augment the efforts of diocesan Catholic schools in those areas. 

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Effective February 6, Sarah Heaton, of Denver, Colo., whose background blends education, marketing and recruitment, became the first director of Enrollment and Marketing for Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese.

In the newly-created position, she will provide overall leadership and direction for the enrollment and marketing of the 22 Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese. Her initial focus will be on the development and implementation of a marketing plan and communication strategy to promote a greater awareness of all that Catholic schools have to offer to students, families, and the community at large.

“I am excited by the energy and passion in the Diocese of Fall River for improving our Catholic schools and opening them up to new students and populations,” Heaton said. “Catholic schools grow the future of our Church and culture, and I am inspired by the plan laid out by the Task Force and now being implemented by diocesan schools’ leadership to be in the forefront of Catholic education in the U.S.”

Heaton comes to the Fall River Diocese prepared to carry out her responsibilities with experience from past employment with two Catholic faith-based organizations headquartered in Colorado.

Most recently, she was director of programs and operations at Endow, an international apostolate present in 130 dioceses helping women to grow in their Catholic faith and to realize their full potential through small group study and educational courses. In efforts to expand the program, Heaton designed print and online marketing campaigns, utilized social media networks, developed youth and adult program content, and did numerous presentations on Endow to diocesan bishops, clergy and lay women.

Prior to that, she worked for FOCUS, a Catholic collegiate outreach, eventually becoming its national recruitment manager. As such, she developed marketing materials and social media initiatives, hosted recruitment events and directed regional interview sessions, successfully increasing the number of FOCUS missionaries sent forth to share the hope and joy of the Gospel to college and university students.

In announcing her hiring, diocesan superintendent of schools, Stephen A. Perla expressed his pleasure that Heaton has joined the diocesan Catholic schools’ leadership team.

“She is extraordinarily passionate about the Church and Catholic schools,” he said.

“She is a faith-filled professional who has worked for faith-based organizations her entire career and has successfully marketed, branded, and advanced the mission of those organizations.”

Heaton earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in Pastoral Theology, Evangelization and Catechesis from the Augustine Institute in Colorado.

Initial funding for the new enrollment and marketing position comes from a gift from the Carney Family and a contribution from the diocesan Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Education, both received last fall to underwrite the implementation.

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Stuart Macdonald, a certified public accountant with years of experience from positions in the private and public sector, began last month as director of Finance for the Fall River Diocese.

His initial work is focusing on further development of accounting policies and procedures for diocesan parishes and entities; the generation of additional financial reports and their analysis; and the audit process underway with the Grant Thornton firm. He reports to diocesan Chancellor Kevin R. Kiley.

Macdonald was most recently director of Fiscal Operations for the city of Providence, R.I., from 2011 to 2016.

He has served in leadership positions in banking and mortgage industries: as president of FEC Mortgage Corp, Foxboro, and of Professional Mortgage Corp. of America, East Providence; and as executive vice president of Home Loan Investment Bank of Providence.

He was also chief financial officer of Madison Components, based in Hampton, N.H.

After earning a master’s degree in accounting from Northeastern University, Macdonald began his career in public accounting for what was then-Peat Marwick Mitchell and Co., now KPMG.

Macdonald also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Brown University.

A native of East Providence, he currently lives in Barrington, R.I., with his wife and two children.

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