He’s been a Catholic University undergraduate, graduate student, alumnus, employee, CatholicU “sweetheart,” and is now the new Alumni Association president. The only University roles Chris Pierno, B.A. 2011, M.S.M. 2017, hasn’t played — yet — are faculty member and parent, although “the parent thing is in the works."
Pierno grew up in Queens, N.Y., but, as a self-proclaimed “politics nerd,” when he started researching universities, knew he wanted to be in Washington, D.C. “I was familiar with the Georges — Georgetown and George Washington — and American,” but didn’t really know Catholic University existed. On a tour, however, he became enamored with campus.
“The environment, the culture, and community sealed the deal,” Pierno said.
On campus, Pierno made friends, joined clubs, and co-hosted a program on the WCUA radio station. He ran for and was elected class representative in the spring of his first year. It’s a favorite memory, “representative of how much I changed my freshman year."
By graduation, Pierno had had opportunities to lead, learn, educate others, serve, and grow in faith. “The person I was when I walked across the Basilica steps at Commencement was a totally different person than I was when I showed up.”
He shares that message with incoming students and their parents. “I tell them, ‘If you allow Catholic University to change your life, it will.’”
The Catholic University community has impacted much of his life. He is married to an alumna, Krissy (Kirby), B.A. 2014, and the priest who officiated their wedding, Rev. Frank Donio, S.A.C., B.A. 1989, M.A. 1993, D.Min. 2012, remains chaplain of the University Knights of Columbus chapter and is a past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors (BOD).
“We named our son, Vincent, after the founder of Father Frank’s religious order. He encouraged me to come onto the BOD.”
Pierno is operations manager for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a national organization representing leaders of U.S. Catholic religious institutes for men. He’s also State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus in D.C.
“I love being involved with Catholic University.” As an alumnus, “you’re a champion for the University as a whole. The focus is on giving back, helping change lives, and making sure the University continues to thrive.”
Pierno aims to build relationships during his tenure as president, strengthening bonds between alumni, staff, and the campus community. Pierno is also dedicated to serving the entire alumni population of 90,000, not just the BOD.
“I want to help elevate the board. We’re not the Board of Trustees; we’re not supposed to be. We don’t have fiduciary responsibility, but we can make suggestions and create new possibilities. We’re here to help through our time, talent, and treasure. We need to be at registration tables, give at all levels, help students get jobs. We give all alumni a public face. Building the pride of the institution starts with us.”
As a student, when Pierno pictured himself as a Catholic University graduate, did he imagine serving on the BOD?
“Is it bad for me to say ‘yes’?” he asked, laughing. “I did picture it. What is the pinnacle of being involved as an alumnus? Being on the board, and then getting to the top. Did I think it would happen as quickly as it did? No. But as the University goes through Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University, it’s going through a transformational period. People are put in place at certain times for a reason. I believe I can help. And it will be one of the greatest honors of my life to be called a past president of the Alumni Association.”