Reader's Retrospective: Tom Jordan

This story appears in the Reader's Retrospective feature series. View the full series.

by Julie Gunter

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Tom Jordan of San Francisco has directed fundraising efforts for countless institutions -- colleges, hospitals, churches -- over the course of his life, but it's the personal relationships he's made, rather than the money he's helped to raise, that he appreciates most.

An early encourager and supporter of fledgling Catholic publications following the Second Vatican Council, Jordan recalled that NCR seemed to have people who could make the venture successful over the long term. The newspaper offered a sense of "community to the ambitions of Catholic organizations around the country," he said. According to Jordan, NCR "held the hope of all of us who wanted something solid and ongoing."

Articles and editorials related to interracial relations were also appreciated by Jordan, who served as civil rights director of the NAACP chapter in Indianapolis 1951-53.

He served as vice president of university relations for the University of San Francisco, and was also a former vice president of the Graduate Theological Union. But Jordan is perhaps best-known for his work as longtime director of the American Irish Foundation. The foundation merged with the Ireland Fund to become the American Ireland Fund in 1987. It has established a worldwide network of funds directed toward peace programs, the arts, education and other investment in Ireland. Jordan is now a lifetime trustee.

Another fundraising effort particularly meaningful to Jordan involved Instituto Fe y Vida, a nonprofit committed to ministry with Latino Catholic youth. Jordan helped the organization raise the funds needed -- with help from Chicago Cardinal Francis George and the Knights of Columbus -- to publish La Biblia Catolica para Jovenes, a Spanish edition of The Catholic Bible for Young People, in 2005.

Though slowing down these days, Jordan still makes himself available to groups "looking to start things and do something great for others in need." He recounted a memorable visit to NCR headquarters a few years ago to discuss fundraising with publisher Thomas C. Fox and others.

"The good Lord has been good to me, and I have no complaints," he said. "It's also good to know, though, that there's others with you along the way."

A version of this story appeared in the April 10-23, 2015 print issue under the headline: NCR a reader's retrospective: Tom Jordan.

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