Dolores Connolly 2018 Corporate Honoree Believes in Making a Difference
Dolores Connolly, IBAM’s 2018 Corporate Honoree, has spent her career delivering exceptional results as a CEO, Civic Leader, and advocate for women and humanitarian causes. She is a values-based leader committed to making a difference in the world we live in.
For the past 21-years Connolly has served as CEO of Sterling Engineering, West Chester, a $47 million engineering services firm with 450 employees serving the project needs of Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies in the food, pharmaceutical, transportation and packaging sectors. Under her leadership, Sterling has become a recognized market leader nationally and internationally.
Born in Longford, Ireland in 1955, the third of 13 children, Dolores was a sunny, even-tempered child prone to testing the limits of authority. A stint at boarding school during the cultural revolution of the ‘60s provided her with more independence and an opportunity to shape her burgeoning leadership skills. Dolores chose education for her field of study and received an international teacher’s certificate from Association Montessori International, London.
Her first job was directing a privately-funded Montessori program to help underprivileged children in Dolphins Barn, a rough area of Dublin’s inner city. It was there she learned that early intervention and education were key to breaking the cycle of poverty – a belief she still advocates today.
But it was a summer vacation in the U.S. with her sister, Marian Brady, that awakened her sense of adventure and convinced her to build an international career, outside of Ireland. Once home, she combed international newspapers and applied for multiple global opportunities. A major postal strike impacted her results and Dolores received only one response – a phone call – from Mary Corbet principal of the Alcuin Montessori School in River Forest, IL. Weeks later when the strike ended Dolores received multiple offers for other jobs but she had already committed to the U.S.
In 1980, Dolores emigrated from Ireland to Chicago and taught at Alcuin Montessori for four years before changing course to a business career that included 16 years at Danka Office Imaging where she rose to Vice President before joining Sterling Engineering as CEO.
Under her guidance, Sterling has expanded its range of support services across all aspects of their customers’ production needs. This strategy has fostered significant growth in business as well as provided accelerated career opportunities for employees and the leadership team.
Dolores is a powerhouse in charity circles as well. She is a longstanding member of the Chicago-Galway Sister Cities Committee most recently having accompanied Mayor Rahm Emmanuel as a member of the Chicago delegation on his first trip to Ireland in April.
But it is her commitment to issues related to women and children that take priority in her philanthropy. Dolores has been a member of the U.S. Board of Directors for Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian aid organization that works in 26 of the world’s poorest countries tackling extreme poverty. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board and has traveled often to the remote regions where Concern works, to see their life-saving programs first hand. Dolores focuses on women and girls because they are the ones most often trapped in the cycle of poverty.
She is a valued member of the International Women’s Forum which advances opportunities for women in leadership globally.
She and her husband, Dan Casey, live in Lincoln Park. Both have a strong commitment to social justice and peace initiatives and strive to balance their business and philanthropic interests both locally and globally.