Detroit Mercy appoints new member to Board of Trustees

Detroit Mercy appoints new member to Board of Trustees

A headshot photograph of Sr. Helen Marie Burns, RSMDetroit Mercy is pleased to announce the appointment of Sr. Helen Marie Burns, RSM, to the University’s board of trustees.

Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, who welcomed Sr. Burns at the November 2021 Board of Trustee meeting, is pleased that an individual of her caliber and experience will now be part of the institution’s governing body. Burns brings years of secondary education experience to her new role, having served in administrative positions with schools in Muskegon, Detroit and Bay City, Michigan, as well as in Independence, Iowa.

“Sr. Burns’ experience in secondary education will be invaluable because she understands the needs of students transitioning from high school to college and she has a deep commitment to our Jesuit and Mercy mission,” Garibaldi said.

Burns is a native of Independence, Iowa, and holds a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Wisconsin and a doctoral degree in Religion from the University of Iowa. She served for 17 years in administrative roles within the Sisters of Mercy of the Union, which concluded in 1991 as the organization joined with other Mercy congregations to form the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. In June 1999, she won election to a six-year term as vice president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Following her tenure in congregational leadership, she returned to academia as vice president of Mission Integration at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, Penn. She retired in 2014 and now engages in project work with Trinity Health.

Other experiences during her career include service as the regional councilor and provincial administrator for the Sisters of Mercy, Province of Detroit, from 1974-1983. In 1984, she won election as vice president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Union. In August 1988, she was elected to a three-year term as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the national leadership organization for women religious in the United States.

She has also served on the boards of several education, health care, church and justice organizations. Currently, she serves on the Boards of Mercy Hospital (Iowa City), St. Joseph Hospital and Health Center (Syracuse), College of St. Mary’s (Omaha) and Carlow University (Pittsburgh). She has lectured extensively on the topics of religious life, leadership, sponsorship, and the charism/tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. She has also contributed articles on the Sisters of Mercy for several publications.

To learn more about Detroit Mercy’s Board of Trustees, please visit