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Villanova University Welcomes Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Mark Schnellbaecher and Jack Byrne as Staff in Residence for Fall Semester

Schnellbaecher and Byrne will contribute to global education at Villanova, by serving as guest lecturers in classes and symposia, and meeting with students and faculty

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Mark Schnellbaecher and Jack Byrne from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be spending their sabbaticals as staff in residence at Villanova University for the fall 2012 semester. Schnellbaecher is CRS’ Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East, while Byrne is CRS’ Country Representative for Pakistan. They will serve as guest speakers in both undergraduate and graduate courses at Villanova, as well as contribute to University and departmental programming.   

Schnellbaecher and Byrne will be featured speakers at an October 26 Villanova faculty workshop entitled, "After the Disaster: the Role of Governments, NGOs, the Media and Universities."

“Villanova University is very grateful for the opportunity to host two extraordinary members of CRS who have years of experience in providing humanitarian assistance and aid to many conflict areas of the world,” said Barbara Wall, Villanova University’s Vice President for Mission and Ministry. “We are thrilled to have Mark Schnellbaecher and Jack Byrne here to share their understanding of the problems and opportunities to assist people in need throughout the world with the Villanova community.”

“It is important to emphasize that CRS is an arm of the Catholic Church in the United States to serve the poor communities of the world in ways that enable them to become sustainable,” added Wall. “We have much to learn from the strategies of people like Mark (Schnellbaecher) and Jack (Byrne) in terms of how to work with local communities using the infrastructure and  networks established in country and how to build models of peaceful conflict resolution in many difficult and diverse environments.” 

Schnellbaecher has 25 years of international management experience leading social justice, socio-economic development and humanitarian assistance programs in partnership with local organizations in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Since 2004 he has been based in Beirut, Lebanon, where he supervises and manages CRS’ staff, operations, programming, partnerships and resource stewardship in 10 countries in the Middle East and Europe. Managing an annual budget of more than $35 million he provides support programming in disaster preparedness and response, refugee assistance, youth civic engagement and voluntarism, peace building, and counter-trafficking.

From 2000-03, Schnellbaecher served as Country Representative for Belgrade, Serbia and as Deputy Regional Director and Regional Director for Europe.  He has also served as Country Representative for Kosovo and Cambodia among other roles.

Byrne has over 16 years of field experience working in emergency, humanitarian, and development programs on three continents. Since 2009 Byrne has been based in Islamabad, Pakistan and manages a multi-sector program with over 240 national and nine international staff and a total program value of almost $50 million.  In 2010, he managed CRS’ $35 million emergency flood response to one of Pakistan’s largest natural disasters. 

Byrne has served as CRS Honduras Country Representative for four years, and as Chief of Party in Azerbaijan for three years.  He also served as Head of Office and managed CRS’ first office in Albania for two years.

Villanova University has partnered with CRS since 2005, working collaboratively to advance global solidarity through education, research, advocacy and service. Students from Villanova are commissioned as CRS Campus Ambassadors, a role which provides them the opportunity and resources to engage students around critical global issues that directly impact the lives of the global poor. In addition, Villanova and CRS regularly collaborate for conferences, workshops and other activities tied to global issues of pressing concern.  Last year’s conferences focused on the “Arab Spring” and also “Gender and Justice from a Global Humanitarian and Development Perspective.”

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.  The agency provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality.  For more information, please visit or Follow CRS on twitter @CatholicRelief @CRSNews.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others.  There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.