The Fr. Noonan Distinguished Alumnus Award, recognizes and honors the achievements of outstanding alumni. The McQuaid Alumni Association established the award in 1992 in honor of Richard P. Noonan, S.J., principal of McQuaid from 1966-67, and revered alumni director from 1969 until his retirement in 1995. He died a year later.
Established in 1992, the purpose of the award is to honor and provide a permanent tribute to those alumni who set and achieve exemplary standards for themselves personally and in his chosen profession.
A 1968 McQuaid Jesuit graduate, Dr. Thomas Herlehy has certainly lived out the Jesuit mission of setting the world on fire. With more than 30 years of senior management experience in leading teams to achieve successful results on USAID-funded and USDA-funded projects in cross-cultural environments, Tom is a true “man for others,” helping to ensure that all people from every walk of life can have food in their belly and money in their pocket.
A 1979 Fulbright Scholarship recipient, Tom received his Ph.D. in African History and Economics from Boston University, using the scholarship to fund his research in the UK and Kenya. He began his international development career in The Gambia working for the USAID Mission between 1985 and 1989. Following four years with the US Department of Agriculture, Tom was an Agricultural Development Officer with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Madagascar.
In 1996, Tom lived in the Ukraine, leading the design and implementation of more than 20 private sector partnerships between US agribusiness firms and Ukrainian partners.
From the Ukraine it was off to Egypt where he helped facilitate the establishment of the first private sector agribusiness association in Egypt under a $36 million food processing and export promotion project. Between 2003 and 2007 he led a $19 million USAID-funded project that connected more than 10,000 small land-holding farmers in Upper Egypt with high-value horticultural markets in the European Union.
Before joining Land O’Lakes in March 2009, Tom was the Chief of Part of the West Africa Trade Hub where he led a team of 20 professionals strengthening the ability of West African firms in 21 countries to produce and export cashews, shea butter, textiles and apparel, handicrafts and fish and sea food, utilizing the special provision of the US Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
In 2010, Tom designed and managed the implementation of a three-year pilot project in Kenya which was built on the successful corporate demonstration farm model known as Answer Plots® in the USA. The innovative JibuPlot® pilot project in Kenya facilitated the adoption of sound farm management technologies and new technologies by more than 2,400 smallholder farmers around three sites in the maize growing region of western and central Kenya.
Based on the success of that Kenya model, Land O’Lakes is using the Answer Plot® learning platform for projects in both Zambia (a USAID OFDA-funded fodder project) and in Malawi (a USDA-funded Food for Progress project). In Zambia, more than 15 Answer Plots® have been established working with and through private sector input suppliers. In Malawi, there are four YankhoPlot™ sites where sound farm management practices and new technology for both rice and cassava are being demonstrated to community farmers.
Today, Tom works as a private, independent consultant, solving agricultural development issues around the globe.
Tom will formally be recognized during the McQuaid's Hall of Fame dinner Saturday, September 16 at the school.