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Jay Sullivan Discusses Business and Leadership In The Context of Service Learning

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Emerging Leader Program of Boston College presented a lecture featuring Jay Sullivan, A&S ’84, titled “Bringing Who You Are to What You Do” at 6:30 p.m. at the Yawkey Athletics Center.

As a Managing Partner of Exec|Comm, LLC, Jay Sullivan oversees a team of fifty experts who help business professionals, including lawyers, accountants, bankers and others, improve their communication skills through classes and one-on-one executive coaching. Before joining Exec|Comm, 15 years ago, Sullivan practiced law, first as in-house counsel at Covenant House, representing homeless teenagers, and later in the private sector.

In between receiving a degree in English at Boston College in 1984, and receiving a law degree from Fordham University, Jay lived in Kingston, Jamaica, where he was an instructor of English and helped care for the boys at Alpha Boys School, a home for boys who had been abandoned. Sullivan’s experiences at Alpha Boys School inspired him to write and publish Raising Gentle Men: Lives at the Orphanage Edge, which chronicles the stories of three Sisters of Mercy who were responsible for spearheading Alpha Boys School.

It was at the outset of the lecture that Sullivan stated his purpose in addressing the Boston College community: “As aspiring leaders, our goal is to inspire the best in others to be able to lead effectively,” he said. “But a question we often forget to ask ourselves is, ‘How can we create values for others, even if in the most minute way possible, every day?’”.

Sullivan spoke fondly of the children he spent time with at the Alpha Boys School, identifying the positive presence of an adult in the children’s lives as monumental to their development.

“Given that all of the boys came from tough backgrounds of poverty and often violence, it's amazing how diverse their lives had been before coming to Alpha. They were as unique and special as any group of people you could meet,” he stated. “Simply being there for someone, or simply being present, can go a long way in establishing a bond with another person,” Sullivan commented.

In describing the role of faith-based service in his endeavors, Sullivan asserted that the role of faith is to engage the individual in making a positive contribution to others, and to create value for others out of a genuine respect and desire to encourage wholesome living in the self and for others.

“I'm encouraged by the vibrancy I see in so many churches, particularly in young people. The church is a dynamic, living organism, constantly evolving while staying true to the tenets of the faith,” Sullivan stated. “At the end of the day, my goal is to not only serve others as profoundly as I can, but to incorporate my faith into daily life in dynamic ways.”

Sullivan also emphasized the need for having diverse and supportive friendships and communities, and the value that is created for the community when individuals strive to elicit the best in others.

“Service is not an event,” Sullivan said. “Service is an attitude. Service is something you want to bring with you wherever you go, no matter what you’re doing.”

Raising Gentle Men: Lives at the Orphanage Edge was awarded First Prize for Best Book by a Small Publisher by the The Catholic Press Association in 2014. The publication is used to prepare BC Jamaica volunteers for trips and was additionally utilized as a common text for freshmen at the University of Scranton in 2014. Sullivan's next publication, What Do You Mean By That?: How to Communicate More Effectively at Work and Beyond, is set to release very soon.