$5,000,000 Gift to Catholic Leadership Institute Creates Transformational Opportunity for the U.S. Catholic Church

Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) is excited to announce a transformational gift of $5 million from philanthropists and longtime Board members, Rob and Berni Neal.

The Neals’ gift is more than just philanthropy – it is a call to action. The Neals’ $5 million philanthropic gift has significantly impacted some of Catholic Leadership Institute’s most effective offerings such as the Disciple Maker Index, Next Generation Parish, and Called For More. Their generosity has inspired a goal of serving more than 30 dioceses across the country, with the aim of reaching 3,600 parishes, 4,800 priests, and over 6 million parishioners through Catholic Leadership Institute initiatives.

Moving dioceses and parishes into the future requires innovation, strategy, and foresight. It also requires partnership. The Neals have set the bar for others to generously invest in the future of the Church, to step out into the deep, and to accompany the Church into a new age of hope and renewal.

"If there was ever a time to do something significant, it's right now!" states Rob. With sacramental numbers down and new realities facing parishes and dioceses post-pandemic, the ministry of Catholic Leadership Institute is needed now more than ever. The Church needs support, accompaniment, and new pathways forward. The Neals’ milestone gift will help open up new possibilities for CLI to be a leader in supporting the Church at this critical juncture.

Sharing their many gifts with Catholic Leadership Institute for over a decade, Rob and Berni have been committed, courageous, and deeply faithful partners in the mission of Catholic Leadership Institute.

Bill Orosz, Chair of CLI’s Board of Directors, shares, “The generosity and leadership of Rob and Berni Neal have positioned CLI to make a tremendous impact at a critical turning point for our Church. It is an honor to work alongside them on our Board of Directors. They never stop raising the bar, and they root every decision in strong faith. This gift is part of a much broader vision for the Church, and I am proud to partner with Rob and Berni in this vision.”

Rob and Berni’s impact has been felt at every level of the Catholic Leadership Institute community. “Together, they have worked tirelessly to take the mission and work of Catholic Leadership Institute to the next level,” reports Dan Cellucci, CEO of Catholic Leadership Institute. “Their expertise, forward thinking, and dedication to our Church have been steadfast blessings to those we serve. This is a game-changing gift towards the work of CLI, and we are extremely grateful for the Neals’ leadership and generosity.”

$5 Million Gift Inspires Hope for the Future

Game-Changing Philanthropic Gift Ignites Vision and Leadership
Throughout the 30-year history of Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), we have been blessed to walk alongside Church leaders and witness profound moments of faith. These moments have only been made possible thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the tireless work of staff, volunteers, and program participants, and the dreams, generosity, and trust of faithful donors and supporters.

Rob and Berni Neal are two leading examples of such philanthropists. As dedicated members of Catholic Leadership Institute’s Board of Directors, Rob and Berni’s fearless leadership, admirable generosity, and innovative vision have truly elevated our ability to serve the Church. “Of the many different organizations that Rob and I are involved with, we really feel that CLI is the one that’s going to be able to catapult us – not from the conversation of reform, as has been the catch phrase – but as Rob likes to say, of renewal,” said Berni Neal.

An Inspiring Invitation from Rob and Berni
This husband-and-wife team shares a myriad of gifts with CLI that complement both our mission and each other.

After making a mark on the professional world of corporate marketing and advertising, Berni heard the call from our Lord to fully dedicate her time and talents to serving the Church – and we are so grateful that she did! Serving on CLI’s Board of Directors, National Advisory Board, and a variety of special committees since 2011, Berni assumed the role of Chair of the Board from May 2016-May 2018. During this tenure, Berni led our apostolate through a period of evolution and elevation of ministry. Her leadership and dedication are the foundation of the work Catholic Leadership Institute is blessed to do today.

A skilled leader and accomplished businessman, Rob is one of three managing partners with Hager Pacific Properties, a private real estate investment firm. Rob oversees the firm’s acquisitions, renovations, and dispositions. He is also an active community member, and he and Berni both hold or have held board positions with several worthy nonprofits. In 2016, Rob joined Berni as a member of CLI’s National Advisory Board, and in 2018 Rob joined CLI’s Board of Directors. Together, they have been a tenacious team.

The work of the Neals and the seeds of their generosity are founded in both love for their faith and love for their family. Residing in California, Rob and Berni have been married for over 30 years, are parents of two adult children, and have taken great joy in welcoming their first grandchild!

The Neals’ motivation is to inspire leaders, galvanize philanthropists, and embolden Catholics to transform the Church in the United States. They also see this commitment as an invitation – an invitation for other Catholic leaders to step out boldly and invest in the future of the Church.

An Investment in Impact
Throughout our 30 years of service to the Church, CLI’s experience demonstrates that equipping and forming Church leaders creates profound impact at every level of the Church. It is this leadership that Rob and Berni Neal believe in. This vision of transformation has inspired the Neals to exponentially increase the scope and accessibility of the mission and work of Catholic Leadership Institute through their generosity.

by Chad Peddicord

June 24, 2021

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