Columbus School of Law alumna Cynthia DeSimone has been appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, effective January 1, 2014.
She will serve as a member of the administrative board which advises Cardinal Wuerl on issues affecting policy and pastoral practices within the Archdiocese. DeSimone’s new duties come in addition to her role as general counsel for the Archdiocese, where she will continue to oversee the staff of the legal office.
The role of Chancellor includes the responsibility to ensure the acts of the curia are gathered, arranged and safeguarded in the archive of the curia. This duty also automatically makes the Chancellor a notary and secretary of the curia.
In the Archdiocese of Washington, the Chancellor’s responsibilities have evolved to include the additional responsibilities of providing counsel to the Archbishop on matters of public policy, serving as a corporate member on all archdiocesan affiliated corporations, and directing special projects and initiatives.
“This is quite an achievement because, after the Cardinal and Archbishop, she is running the Archdiocese,” noted Rev. Raymond C. O'Brien, a professor on the CUA Law faculty.
DeSimone succeeds Jane G. Belford, who is retiring after nearly 13 years as the Archdiocese’s first lay Chancellor. (Belford is the mother of second-year Catholic University law school student Patrick Belford.)
DeSimone is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. She received a Master of Arts in Philosophy and a Juris Doctor with honors from The Catholic University of America, where she served on the Catholic University Law Review. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the School of Philosophy at CUA.
In March 2012, DeSimone returned to the law school to address Professor George Garvey’s Social Justice and the Law class (left and top). She described the wide scope of her job as general counsel, which among many other responsibilities covers the legal needs of 140 Catholic schools within the Archdiocese.
She urged students to consider legal practice on behalf of the Archdiocese as a way to employ a wide variety of legal skills in service of a greater cause.
“Pursue what you’re inspired by,” DeSimone advised. “This is a really good way to put your legal skills into action.”