Challenges Faced by Refugees Discussed by Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at Scranton

Feb 7, 2017
Maggie Walsh
Maggie Walsh

University of Scranton graduate William Canny, ’77 H’07, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will discuss “The Future of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.” at the University Wednesday, Feb. 15. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Moskovitz Theater of the University’s DeNaples Center.

Canny will be joined at the lecture by Maggie Walsh, a 2012 University graduate and current Scranton High School English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher, who will share her experiences working with refugee students.

The Migration and Refugee Services is the largest non-governmental resettlement agency in the world, and Canny’s responsibilities there include policy formulation and communication, advocacy, education, refugee resettlement and specialized services for other vulnerable populations, among them human trafficking victims and unaccompanied minors. Prior to joining the Migration and Refugee Services in 2015, Canny had more than 25 years of experience working for the Catholic Church and refugees and migrants via his positions with Catholic Relief Services and the International Catholic Migration Commission.

As Catholic Relief Services’s director of emergency operations from 2010 to 2012, Canny oversaw global prevention, preparedness, protection and response operations. He directed the organization’s initial response to the devastating Haiti earthquakes of 2010, and from 2006-09 served as its country representative in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. He has also managed and executed relief and development operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

As secretary general for the Geneva-based International Catholic Migration Commission, Canny oversaw programs in war-ravaged areas like Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, Indonesia and East Timor.

In addition, Canny served as chief operations officer for the Papal Foundation in Philadelphia, directing its daily operations. The foundation has contributed millions of dollars to the Vatican for initiatives aimed at alleviating global poverty, and provides grants to more than 100 projects per year.

The recipient of an honorary doctorate in humane letters from The University of Scranton, Canny earned his bachelor’s degree in human services from Scranton, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh.

A native of Scranton, Walsh earned her master’s degree in English Language Learners from Kingston University in London, England, after earning her bachelor’s degree in secondary education –English from Scranton. She has taught ESL at Scranton High School for four years.

The lecture is organized by the University’s In Solidarity with Syria committee, made up of administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and students devoted to addressing the refugee crisis through education, advocacy and prayer. The initiative is under the leadership of Helen M. Wolf, Ph.D., executive director of Campus Ministries.

For more information on the talk, call the University’s Office of Campus Ministries at 570-941-7419 or visit

The University of Scranton offered a special Mass for the intention of praying in solidarity with refugees and for our political leaders. The Mass and an upcoming Feb. 15 lecture about “The Future of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.” are among the events coordinated by the University’s In Solidarity with Syria Committee, which began in 2015 and is an ongoing effort to focus attention on refugees. 

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