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Dragon Alum Named Oakland Fire Chief

With the sun shining on a brisk fall morning in Jack London Square, Oakland city leaders gathered near the ferry terminal for the installation of the next Fire Chief: Damon Covington ’91. In attendance for the ceremony were proud O’Dowd alumni and school leaders, including President Kim Walsh and Fr. Leo Edgerly, Vice President for Catholic Mission.

“It’s exciting to see one of our O’Dowd alumni take on such an important leadership role in the city we love,” said President Walsh. “Damon’s dedication to serving the community began while he was at O’Dowd. It’s incredible to see how service has shaped his career goals since graduating.”

While a student at O’Dowd, Damon felt called to join the Campus Ministry Team, led by Brian Judd. “One of the many activities we did included a canned food drive to support families in need during the holidays,” Damon recalled during his installation remarks. “Those kinds of experiences planted the seed in me to understand the value of being a part of a community.”

Damon’s commitment to service continued once he became a firefighter. As a member of the Oakland Black Firefighters Association, Damon worked with his colleagues to give back to the Oakland community through various charity drives. “The seed that was planted in me has grown,” said Damon. “As Fire Chief, I will never stop giving back to Oakland. Not just my energy, not just in food baskets. But in my heart and soul.”

Dragons Supporting Dragons

Damon works closely with two other O’Dowd alumni: Deputy Chief Matthew Nichelini ’95, and Fire Marshall Felicia Bryant ’94. These outstanding Dragon alumni hold the top three positions within Oakland’s Fire Department. “I am grateful to O’Dowd for nurturing personal growth, fostering friendships, and providing the groundwork for the leadership responsibilities we now uphold to ensure Oakland's safety as members of the Oakland Fire Department,” reflected Felicia, who is also an O’Dowd parent. “Serving under the guidance of alumni Chief Damon Covington and alongside fellow alumni like Deputy Chief Matthew Nichelini is a true honor.”

As the ceremony came to a close, Maurita Toler ’07, O’Dowd’s Director of Alumni Engagement, snapped selfies with Damon, Matthew and Felicia. “It feels wonderful to celebrate that the top three Oakland fire leaders are proud Dragon alumni,” she said. “Dragon Pride is a connection for a lifetime!”


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