Tom Moran: Irish America Hall of Fame
By Kristin Romano, Contributor
April / May 2012
Tom Moran, businessman and humanitarian, is inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.
Chairman, president and CEO of Mutual of America, Tom Moran was born in 1952 on Staten Island, NY, one of three children of an Irish-Italian-American mother and an Irish-American father, with roots in Counties Fermanagh and Tipperary. Moran’s maternal grandfather, Arturo Quaranta, was from outside of Salerno, Italy, and as Moran pointed out in a previous interview with Irish America, he “was a lover of all things Irish, especially Peggy O’Neill,” his wife and Tom’s grandmother.
Always a modest man, Moran is quick to give credit to others, beginning with the Sisters who educated him as a young boy. When he first started grammar school, he wasn’t able to speak. However, the nuns of the Daughters of Divine Charity worked with him, and by the time he was in the second grade he was talking. At the age of 14, Moran began his first job as a janitor at his high school. He followed this by working as the french fries man at Nathan’s Hot Dogs, a short-order cook, and a cemetery worker. While attending Manhattan College, he drove a cab during the night shift. Through these diverse work experiences, Moran learned valuable lessons and developed the beliefs that continue to influence his life and work today.
After earning his B.S. degree in mathematics, Moran began working at Mutual of America in 1975. Back then, his job was to “paperclip anything that needed to be signed” whenever a pension had been sold. When there were a pile of contracts to be signed, he would bring them to then-president (and 2011 Hall of Fame inductee) Bill Flynn. It was from Flynn that he learned another important lesson, about making sure that the people who work for a company, no matter how big or small the role they play, know and feel that they are important.
On a personal note, it was at Mutual that he met his wife, Joan, in 1976. The couple married in 1983 and both still work for the company – Moran as president, CEO and chairman, and Joan responsible for the company’s technology. They share a love of family and friends and a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism.
Moran, rarely one for the spotlight, has in the past praised Mutual of America for creating an atmosphere of giving within the company, with all employees either actively volunteering for or donating to various causes. Under Moran’s stewardship, Mutual is a sponsor of Public Broadcasting and is corporate underwriter for Bill Moyers’ show. For Moran and Mutual, it is not about completely agreeing with what someone says but about promoting thorough discussions of important issues, which can lead to a
Mutual’s influence on Moran is apparent when one looks at the causes he is personally involved with: Abilities, Concern and the Northern Ireland peace process. Tellingly, he never discusses his philanthropic work in terms of what he has done, but rather by discussing what the organizations do. In 1992 Moran became involved with the Abilities Foundation, which works to improve the lives of people with disabilities, and through them he is also involved with the Henry Viscardi School for students with severe physical and medical disabilities. Moran was drawn to these programs due to their shared belief that people with physical disabilities can and should pursue their dreams.
Moran is the chairman of Concern Worldwide (US), an organization founded in 1968 in response to the famine in Biafra. Today, Concern has programs in 28 of the world’s poorest countries, and implements emergency responses to disasters, in addition to targeting poverty and hunger. Moran first became involved as a donor for the organization. His passion for Concern’s mission quickly grew, and he joined the board, eventually becoming the chairman. In this role, he takes an active approach, which has given him the opportunity to travel to Haiti, Rwanda and the Sudan. These intense and important trips have left him even more impressed with and dedicated to Concern’s work.
It was through Flynn that Moran’s involvement with the Northern Ireland peace process began. He had first visited Ireland in 1970 and enjoyed his time there, but he credits Flynn and Bill Barry with generating his passion for the country and its future. In his involvement with the peace process, Moran has worked behind the scenes, resulting in strong friendships with those on both sides of the conflict. When he was honored as Irish America’s Irish American of the Year in 2008, accolades were bestowed on him from Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and Sir Hugh Orde, then-chief Constable of the PSNI, among many others.
In addition to these praises, Moran has been awarded numerous honors, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which celebrates “remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.” It is a fitting description of Tom Moran.