A changing of the guard for the Parents Leadership Council.
Youssef, Kate, Habib, Suzie, Maddie, and Alex Gorgi
“They were each different, yet all were filled with a mix of emotions, anxiety, and, at times, a few tears,” Suzie remembers.
Whether the distance is a car ride or a plane flight away, for so many parents it can feel difficult no matter the number of miles from home. For international parents, it can feel even scarier. “The adjustment is so hard for some because they are sending their kids thousands of miles away to live and study in a new environment,” says Habib.
At BC, the Gorgis found a sense of connection to their children’s new home by joining the Parents Leadership Council (PLC). The parents of two Eagles—Kate ’12 and Maddie ’21—Habib and Suzie are co-chairs of the PLC, a relationship that has deepened their involvement with Boston College. In fact, joining the council was a way to connect to this new place quickly. “Getting involved in the PLC early on was a way for us to really understand the University from the inside—the opportunities and risks, the long-term strategy, and the operating issues,” Habib says. In this leadership role, the Gorgis have welcomed families who are eager to support the University’s initiatives and also consider it their duty to take the time to get to know as many new BC moms and dads as they can.
In May 2021, Maddie graduated from BC and her parents handed over the PLC reins to BC parents April and Peter Kelly, P’22, of Mill Valley, California.
What’s the PLC?
The Parents Leadership Council (PLC) is an active, diverse group of deeply engaged parents who have distinguished themselves as leaders at Boston College through their annual philanthropic support as well as their volunteer efforts for the University. Members of the PLC connect with one another and with BC’s academic and administrative leaders through special communications and campus and regional events grounded in our Jesuit, Catholic mission.
Council members receive invitations to special events throughout the year featuring key BC leaders, including University President William P. Leahy, S.J., and Provost David Quigley. PLC members provide feedback and guidance on a wide range of University priorities. All members of the PLC have made a significant commitment to Boston College and support the University with an annual leadership gift of $10,000 or more.
Serving as ambassadors to BC means fostering relationships with fellow parents to broaden their knowledge about the University and encourage their support. PLC members also host and attend first-year send-offs, parent receptions, and other events. On campus, council members attend an annual meeting and BC’s signature events and social events, such as Pops on the Heights and tailgating.
For more information, please visit bc.edu/plc.
From their home in Northern California, April and Peter can see the redwood-dotted peak of Mount Tamalpais. Raised in the Golden State, the Kellys love to hike the trails through the mountains and spend as much time as possible outdoors.
Their daughter, Rachel, is a rising high school senior; their son, Miles, will be a senior at Boston College this fall. It’s a long trip, door-to-door, but Miles fell in love with the Heights early on. He first learned about BC from his high school friend Ian Buehler ’21. “The more Miles heard about BC’s student life through Ian, the more he pictured himself there,” says April. “Every time we were in New England, we would stop at BC. Miles loved the people he met, the campus, the sports, and Boston.”
Getting involved with the PLC that first semester was a natural transition for April and Peter. “We were used to knowing other families and being engaged in our kids’ schools,” April says, “so joining the PLC was a way for us to meet parents from all over the country and around the world. The PLC has really been the link to keeping us connected and involved with BC, especially being so far away.”
Peter can point to the moment he knew Boston College was the right choice for their family. “We were at an event for new parents that featured Fr. Leahy, [senior vice president for university advancement] Jim Husson, and the Gorgis. It was the triple crown of impressive BC leaders who advocate the importance of getting involved,” he explains. “It was then that we knew we wanted to be more engaged with the University, and the PLC was the way to do that. If we hadn’t jumped in early, we wouldn’t have built connections to other families, and we wouldn’t have understood all that happens at BC. Having a few connections among the administration and other parents is really, really good.”
Over the years, the Gorgis have embraced their role as University ambassadors. Before COVID-19, they hosted in-person welcome events for first-year students and their parents, attended the annual Pops on the Heights and the Wall Street Council Dinner, and gathered new BC parents to join them in tailgating on campus before football games. Although the pandemic has changed the physical locations for these time-honored traditions, Suzie and Habib have continued to invite PLC members to come together in a virtual environment, connecting parents and University leaders on screen to help them get to know each other and share perspectives. They also enjoy spreading the word about the value of a Boston College education. “At BC, we have seen how Kate and Maddie experienced a discipline in education and how BC has played a role in their personal, ethical, and spiritual formation,” says Habib. “Boston College has helped give them perspective on how they could live their lives in addition to having a career. They’ve been given room to explore their passions and find their purpose in the world.”
PLC, Suzie says, is about more than just getting parents engaged in the BC community, it is also about raising money to support the institution’s strategic initiatives. The Gorgis directly support programs that enhance the BC experience and open an education at the Heights to more students. “Habib and I are so committed to supporting scholarships right now, especially knowing how hard it is for some families to afford to send their kids to college,” Suzie says. “I was a scholarship kid. I didn’t have a choice in where I went to college; I went where I got a full scholarship.”
International Parents Reception 2019
Ongoing communication between the administration and parents is key to building what Habib refers to as the triangle—the relationship between the institution, the parent population, and students. “BC is very respectful of all parents,” he continues. “The PLC gives parents a voice and a seat at the table.” Regular updates from University administration also help parents become more engaged. “Once parents get to know the administration and leadership, it becomes a fairly easy decision for them to support BC. We know where the dollars are going,” says Habib. Under the Gorgis’ leadership, the PLC has grown significantly: from 371 families to 480 families—a record high—representing 75 countries and all 50 states, says Rita Kincaid, director of parent development. “We are so grateful for their time and energy—both of which contributed to the Council’s success,” she adds.
When BC asked April and Peter to co-chair the PLC, there was no hesitation. “We were a little surprised, but super-excited,” April says. “Peter and I did not grow up in the Catholic faith, and our kids didn’t go to Catholic schools. But Fr. Leahy’s words to parents during Orientation Mass a few years ago really spoke to me. I was so moved by everything, thinking how we all should be living by the Jesuit values of giving back to the community and being of service to others,” she reflects. “I was very much on board, Catholic or not.”
“We are honored, excited, and a little nervous to fill the Gorgis’ shoes,” says Peter. “It will be a pleasure to get to know the University better and get to work with the staff. A little part of us feels like, ‘How can we do this?’, but Suzie and Habib have assured us that we will have all the support we need.”
“Parents play a big role in the life of Boston College and its growth. Suzie and Habib have been incredibly active over the years, as ambassadors, philanthropists, volunteers, and counselors,” says Husson. “Their enthusiastic leadership, generosity, and dedication has encouraged more parents to engage with the University, which has helped make BC stronger. We are so excited to be in the same partnership with April and Peter as they transition from PLC members to co-chairs,” he continues. “They, too, bring deep commitment, integrity, and insight to the role and represent all the best characteristics that make the BC community special.”
“Leading the PLC has been a pleasure,” Habib reflects. “We met and talked to a lot of parents, all of whom are good people. One thing we all have in common: we care about our kids, and we want to help grow Boston College when and where we can.”