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Over 90% of our graduates complete high school within four years, in a city with an on-time high school graduation rate that hovers around 65%.

Gesu board chairman selected as one of Philadelphia's 10 best

Everyone at Gesu School already knew board chairman J. Gordon Cooney, Jr., was one of the best. His recent selection by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of Philadelphia's 10 most outstanding board directors comes as no surprise.

Mr. Cooney has impacted the lives of the children here at Gesu School immeasurably during his time on the board, and particularly in his three years as board chairman. He has guided Gesu School through volatile times, including a challenging economic climate and an upheaval in the educational systems. Visionary, strategic and thoughtful, Mr. Cooney is driven to see Gesu succeed without succumbing to the fate of so many other Catholic schools across the country, which have either converted to charters or simply closed.

During Mr. Cooney’s tenure as chairman, Gesu School completed an $8 million campaign for scholarships, ensuring Gesu’s financial health for the future. Mr. Cooney also led the board through an extensive strategic planning process to ensure that our students receive the best education possible, while also assessing the changing landscape of education and the neighborhood to ensure Gesu’s continued viability.

A managing partner at the law firm of Morgan Lewis, Mr. Cooney has brought his professional talents and resources to the table to benefit the students and school. The firm has provided invaluable pro bono legal services to the school’s administration, while Cooney has provided career and real-life exposure for the students. One of his many contributions includes arranging for John Thompson, a death row exoneree, to speak to the students. Mr. Cooney, one of the attorneys who had helped prove John Thompson's innocence in 2003, joined his client on stage for the presentation.

Mr. Cooney leads by example, doing the very things he asks others to do. He has sponsored a student the same age as his own son since 2009. His family not only financially supports the student, but has also taken the time to form a relationship with him—inviting him over for their son’s birthday parties, including him in Morgan Lewis’ night at the zoo, and playing Jenga with him at sponsor luncheons at Gesu School. Mr. Cooney and his wife Gretchen have recently begun sponsoring an additional Gesu student, and have also opened their home to the school, hosting the kick-off party for our recent campaign.

Gesu is always on Mr. Cooney’s mind when he meets people. He has been an indispensable source of new introductions for the school. Mr. Cooney has also worked to strengthen Gesu’s relationships with other organizations, such as Rosemont School of the Holy Child. Such relationships have expanded the resources available to our children.

One of Mr. Cooney’s unique leadership qualities is that he recognizes everyone’s contributions, from the office staff to the administration, the teachers to the choir. He is quick to offer genuine compliments and to thank everyone involved in any given endeavor, making people feel they are appreciated, significant and valued members of an important team.

All of us at Gesu School cannot even begin to describe our indebtedness to Mr. Cooney for strategically and insightfully steering this ship toward its destination of greatness. We wholeheartedly congratulate him on this most recent honor.