Top 100 - 2011

Patrick Moynihan

A Brown-educated former English teacher and former commodities trader turned deacon who now runs a non-profit Catholic school in Haiti might seem like a far-fetched character description from a movie. It actually describes Patrick Moynihan, President of the Haitian Project, the only free high school in Haiti, and headmaster of the Louverture Cleary School.

Moynihan’s road to running the school goes back to his roots. He is the youngest of nine children, including older brother, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. Like several of his older siblings, he graduated from Brown University in 1987. He first worked as a Catholic-school english teacher before becoming a commodities trader in Peoria, IL and then Memphis, TN. Though financially well off, Moynihan began to believe that he had a duty to give back. He returned to school, earning a Master of Divinity from Providence College, and decided, along with his wife, to devote life to helping others. At first, Moynihan planned to move to Uganda and teach at a mission there. However, his older brother Brian pointed the youngest Moynihan to the Haitian Project and Louverture Cleary School (LCS), a charity he had been supporting that needed help.

When Moynihan first arrived in Haiti in 1996, the school was struggling. Fifteen years later, the school is thriving, thanks to his leadership skills. Under his direction, the school has blossomed and now teaches over 350 students in four languages. After the January 2010 earthquake the entire country has faced new struggles. Still, they are fighting to re-build. Moynihan splits his time between Haiti and the U.S., and had just returned to the States the day before the earthquake. He flew back shortly after and quickly dove into working tirelessly to make sure the school and its students were all right.

The project is a labor of love on behalf of the whole family. As Moynihan’s mother told Irish America, “If you know Patrick, you get recruited.” Christina, his wife, is very active in the project, and has a program for pre-school children from their neighborhood. Their son Robert (18), who will be starting at West Point soon has been a big help, as has their daughter, Michaila (16), who will be a sophomore at Mary Baldwin College, Virginia. Their to younger children, Timothy (14) and Marianna (12) are enrolled in Louveture Cleary School since the family voted to return to Haiti full time.