Newly Retired Professor to Join Vincentian-Related NGO at UN

Linda Sama talking in a classroom
September 7, 2023

Linda Sama, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, has retired from St. John’s University, but her work with Vincentian-related causes continues.

Dr. Sama was recently selected to be a representative of the International Association of Charities (AIC) to the United Nations. AIC, a nongovernmental organization, or NGO, is a federation of groups that work to alleviate poverty in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.

Included among the groups in the AIC federation is the Ladies of Charity, whose St. John’s chapter was established in 2009. Dr. Sama is a founding member of the St. John’s chapter.

“I knew I needed and wanted to keep active in areas that meant something to me,” Dr. Sama said. “AIC works in more than 50 countries on projects that address social needs, including poverty, hunger, education, and homelessness.”

The Ladies of Charity, an organization of lay women, trace their roots back to the Confraternities of Charity, founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1617 at Châtillon, France. The St. John’s chapter was established under the leadership of the late Sr. Margaret John Kelly, D.C., founder and former Executive Director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society and a spiritual mentor to Dr. Sama.

On the faculty since 2007, Dr. Sama drew upon the spirit of Sts. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac in establishing the Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs, or GLOBE, program at St. John’s. Student-managed, GLOBE provides loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world to mitigate poverty. Students are introduced to the nuances of microfinance by vetting applications, marketing chosen programs, fundraising, and tracking success.

The program’s minimal administrative costs ensure that 95 cents of every dollar raised goes to borrowers. William D. Reisel, Ph.D., Professor, Management, Entrepreneurship, Consulting, and Operations (MECO) at Tobin, has taken over stewardship of GLOBE now that Dr. Sama’s retirement is official. 

“I don’t know if there is another program across the University that is so aligned with our mission to give back to the community than GLOBE,” Dr. Reisel said. “Dr. Sama is a beloved faculty member who has motivated students to fully embrace the Vincentian spirit. I hope I can carry forward her amazing legacy.”

“Bill was my first choice and I’m grateful he accepted because he has the heart for it,” Dr. Sama added. “You can learn about microfinance—but more importantly, I wanted someone who shared my values and priorities.”

Dr. Sama will join St. John’s Ladies of Charity chapter members Mary Ann Dantuono ’81L and Pat Mulé ’78CBA as part of a three-person team representing AIC at the UN. There she will advocate for the issues AIC holds dear, including serving on a task force on homelessness ahead of World Homeless Day on October 10. 

Among her goals is the establishment of a “side event” on homelessness. Side events are platforms for UN-admitted organizations such as AIC to engage with delegates on issues of common interest with an emphasis on knowledge sharing, networking, and options consideration.

Among the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, none specifically address the eradication of homelessness. AIC sees it as an urgent matter and hopes it will be a point of emphasis at the UN’s upcoming session. 

“It deserves attention,” Dr. Sama said. “It’s an initiative that we all believe in.”  

“Still, there is a lot involved in getting you in the door for a side event,” Dr. Sama continued. “But once you do, people hear about the work you’ve been doing, why it’s important, and what challenges remain.”