The Wilson Sheehan Family
In May 2014 the University of Notre Dame received a gift from Chris and Lorraine Wilson and the Wilson Sheehan Foundation to endow the Lab for Economic Opportunities. This philanthropic partnership deepens LEO’s role in fulfilling Notre Dame’s mission to pursue and share truth, cultivate a disciplined sensibility to the poverty that burdens the lives of so many, and create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that bears fruit as learning becomes service to justice.
The Wilson Sheehan Foundation, started by Chris and Lorraine (Sheehan) Wilson in 2012, exists to help advance lasting, positive change in the world. It is grounded in the belief that strong families build strong communities, and holds the goal of empowering people in low-income populations to achieve financial stability.
Chris and Lorraine met on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in the 1980s. Chris studied government and business at Notre Dame and Lorraine studied accounting at nearby Saint Mary’s College.
Following graduation, Lorraine practiced accounting at Arthur Young, Citicorp, and a small business before devoting herself full-time to raising a family. Chris began a career in finance at GE Capital and moved to a small private equity firm before transitioning to Stonehill Capital, where he serves as a senior partner.
Chris and Lorraine are active in supporting their local schools, community, and causes they care about. Chris serves the University of Notre Dame as a LEO board member, and as a member of the Campaign Cabinet, Undergraduate Experience Council, and Wall Street Leadership Committee. Chris also serves on the board of the Drexel Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding promising school concepts, and is the Chair of the Board of St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, CT. Lorraine is a volunteer and former board member of the Mercy Learning Center, an organization providing basic literacy and life skills training to low-income women. She is actively engaged in helping grantees of the Wilson Sheehan Foundation succeed in their missions. For Chris and Lorraine, the foundation is a way to put their faith into action.
"In late 2012 as we prepared to launch our family foundation, we were grateful for an occasion to meet with Father Ted Hesburgh, the renowned former President of the University of Notre Dame, who died in February 2015. In seeking his counsel, we were hoping this great man, who had traveled the world over a long lifetime, advised U.S. presidents, and generally been larger than life, would steer us to a specific philanthropic need—do our homework for us.
But he had no such specific advice. He said, “Follow your hearts, pray about it. And by the way—the prayer I like best is a simple one: ‘Come, Holy Spirit.’”
Rather than getting the specific direction we had hoped for, Father Ted gave us so much more—a few simple guideposts for living, for getting closer to God, and for running our foundation. As we created the logo for the Wilson Sheehan Foundation, the image of the dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, was the clear choice."
- Chris & Lorraine (Sheehan) Wilson