“The Smyths have a long history of humanitarian action [and]a commitment to Catholic values,” the agency said in announcing that the couple, both 1985 Fordham College at Rose Hill graduates, would receive the 2019 Edward Cardinal Egan Humanitarian Award. “The two also share a commitment to sustainability and work in professions that allow them to advance progress on social and environmental causes.”
The Smyths accepted the honor on Nov. 12 at the 34th Annual Child of Peace Awards Dinner in Manhattan.
As chief financial officer of the utility company National Grid US, Margaret “Peggy” Smyth played a key role in advancing clean-energy investments in battery storage pilot programs, charging stations for electric vehicles, and renewable natural gas. She has chaired workshops to encourage other CFOs to show leadership in sustainability, including a roundtable at the United Nations last year.
Bernard “Berney” Smyth is an account executive for the construction management and general contracting company Structure Tone. He has been active in Catholic Charities and served on its board for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut.
The Smyths are regular supporters of their alma mater. Together they created an endowed scholarship for Fordham students, and Peggy Smyth is a Fordham trustee fellow and member of the President’s Council executive committee. The two met during their first year at Fordham and felt an “instant connection,” in Berney Smyth’s words.
They married in 1987 and adopted their son Brian in 1997 and his half-brother Pierce in 2000. Both were adopted—within days of their birth—through Catholic Home Bureau, one of two organizations that later merged to form Catholic Guardian Services. For each adoption, they received a reference from Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., GSAS ’68, president of Fordham at the time.
“Everything good in our life came from Fordham,” Berney Smyth said. “We met at Fordham, and we like to think that we got the kids as a result of Father O’Hare.”
In addition to adoptions, Catholic Guardian Services provides shelter, rehabilitation, counseling, training, and other services for underserved people and families in New York, with the goal of promoting holistic well-being and self-sufficiency.