A Maryknoll College alumna through and through (GS ’59, HS ’63, and COL ’67), our dear Carn Abella wholly devoted her professional life spanning 50 years to shaping the missions and work of social institutions.
If there is one quality that has marked her work and achievements, wherever she was, it is PIONEERING. She held bold, courageous visions of what needed to be done and possessed vast faith in the people who had the good fortune of working with her that they could get it done. There are several significant firsts and milestones in her career’s journey.
In Maryknoll College, Carn was the first Filipino lay Dean of Student Affairs, assuming the responsibility from Sister Dorothy McGowan in 1971, when the Maryknoll Sisters began the process of turning over the Maryknoll administration to lay leaders. She embraced the challenge of defining a new Filipino leadership while maintaining the unique traditions of the Sisters. She carried forward the philosophy of holistic, well-rounded education – the development of minds and character being equally important – by keeping and encouraging strong student life programs.
Pursuing further her chosen path in social development, at the Development Academy of the Philippines, Carn led the groundbreaking, innovative nationwide training program for public school teachers. The program resulted in the training of hundreds of thousands of elementary teachers in the country, which laid the groundwork for the National Educators Academy of the Philippines established under President Corazon Aquino.
For the past 21 years, Carn has been the energetic and creative driving force at the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation, Inc., carrying out its inspiring mission with her dynamic leadership. Always the trailblazer, Carn expanded the work of the Foundation to become a regional showcase of exemplary work in service to society. In the midst of her demanding work, she was very generous with her time and knowledge with other civil society groups in working to improve the delivery of their services to their communities.
Through the years, Maryknoll/Miriam College was always close to Carn’s heart. She remained connected with the College through the Maryknoll/Miriam College Alumni Association, which she served as Board Chair. Under her leadership, she established the Triple A Award – the Amazing Alumni Achievers – drawing from her work with the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation, as a way of recognizing outstanding alumni. Always proud of our graduates – then and now – Carn was convinced that alumni were making huge differences in the lives of others that deserved recognition.
A specialist in management development, strategic planning and organizational change, among others, she helped the Miriam College Board of Trustees under different leaderships with its strategic planning, helping flesh out goals for the school that will help keep the institution relevant and sustainable.
Joining the Board of Trustees in 2015, she served as Chair of the Human Resources Committee and later the Strategic Alignment Committee. Most recently, she was tasked by the Board to be the institution’s Chief Strategy Officer, to push forward needed innovative changes in these very challenging times for private educational institutions.
In this capacity, Carn launched the Strategic Organizational Innovation Program (SOIP) 2019-2023, that would guide organizational change at Miriam as it pivots towards the future. Once more, charged with this pioneering task, Carn sparked new energy and inspiration – a promise that must materialize without her.
2020 is the 20th anniversary of the Amazing Alumni Achievers Award, Carn’s brainchild. She called it Amazing – because despite obstacles, dangers and adversities, these graduates persisted and made positive impact in their respective contexts, thus demonstrating that famous Maryknoll/Miriam Spirit.
Amazing! That is Carn to us, her Miriam College family. Beyond her being an Amazing Alumni Achiever herself, she was a beautiful and generous soul – made more alive by her open-heartedness, determination to make our work more meaningful in an enduring way, and who made sure everyone was part of something positive and exciting.
From the bottom of all our hearts — the Board of Trustees and the MC community and alumni — thank you for the AMAZING gift that you have been to us, Carn.