April 14, 2017

Charities CEO Vince Colonno: a Devotion to Helping Others

Charities CEO Vince Colonno: a Devotion to Helping Others

Catholic Charities CEO Vincent Colonno was recently featured as a "Face of Faith" in the Easter Sunday edition of the Times Union. Read the full article at timesunion.com

Vincent Colonno

Background: Born and raised in the city of Albany, he started working for Albany County and rose through the ranks of the Department of Social Services and Aging before becoming CEO of Catholic Charities in 2011. He and his wife, Linda, live in Guilderland and are parishioners at All Saints Church in Albany. They have two grown children: daughter, Andrea, and son, Vinnie who is married to Dulce Colonno. Their two children are Vincent and Matteo. Linda, who worked for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is retired, and as her husband puts it "is in full grandmother mode."

 I think it's safe to say you're as Albany as they come.

My office at Catholic Charities is located at the Pastoral Center of the Albany Diocese on North Main Avenue, part of which used to be the Brady Maternity Hospital. And that's where I was born. I grew up not far away on Third Street in West Hill and attended Blessed Sacrament School a few blocks from home. I graduated from Cardinal McCloskey High School in Albany and went to Albany Junior College, which is now part of the Sage Colleges. I later graduated from Empire State College and got a master's degree in public administration from Russell Sage College. 

Before you began your career with the county, you helped build the Empire State Plaza.

Back then in the early '70s, it was known as the South Mall. As a 19-year-old, I was lucky that there was so much construction work for kids like myself. I worked with seasoned carpenters and masons and met some interesting people, some of whom are still my very good friends to this day. I was in the Laborers Union, Local 190, working with the concrete crews, mainly down in the basements pouring the floors. But we also worked on the bridges from 787 leading into the plaza. You'd come home at night weighing two times more than when you started with all that concrete in your clothes. I worked on the Egg a bit and in the agency buildings. Now when I attend meetings there, I kiddingly forewarn the people I helped build the building.

What was your first county job?

I started out as a social welfare examiner doing benefits determination and then became a social services investigator in the DSS Legal Division, primarily assigned to welfare fraud cases and Child Protective Services. I worked my way up through the ranks to be deputy commissioner of Social Services. In 2000, after 15 years with DSS, County Executive Mike Breslin asked me to move over to head the Department for Aging. I did that for seven years and then came back to Social Services as commissioner. We got a lot done because we had a very good staff. Being a public servant... 

Rob Brill's full feature on Vincent Colonno at here