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O’Dowd’s 2024 Cor Unum Awardee: Alan McIntosh

Alan McIntosh

The Cor Unum Award, named for the school’s motto, “One Heart in Christ,” is Bishop O’Dowd High School’s highest honor. It is presented each year to a select member of the O’Dowd community, whose life and work embodies our mission to create a more just, joyful and sustainable world.

“Catholic education has always been important to my family,” reflects Alan McIntosh. “It’s about well-rounded learning - how the values and charism are intertwined in all areas of the curriculum.”

Alan’s family, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, have been Catholic for generations. In fact, Trinidad is the largest Catholic community in the English-speaking Caribbean. So Alan and his wife Imelda, a devout Catholic, knew that they wanted a Catholic high school for their children, Nigel McIntosh ’15 and Ruben McIntosh ’17. They chose O’Dowd because of the inspirational leaders at the helm of the school, most importantly Dr. Steve Phelps.

“Steve was a legend,” Alan recalls. “I heard stories about how he worked with kids in the toughest areas of Bayview-Hunters Point in San Francisco, how he dedicated himself to the underdog, how he believed in giving kids chances. That’s the kind of Christianity that I’m attracted to, and that I want to be a part of.”

Alan joined O’Dowd’s board in 2014, bringing with him 30 years of industry experience running a global, national and regional uniform and merchandising business, which is not only 100% African-American owned, but also recognized for its dedication to environmental sustainability and philanthropy. On O’Dowd’s board, Alan quickly took up the mantle of O’Dowd’s charism call to community in diversity. He felt driven to ensure that less privileged families would have access to the kind of transformational opportunities O’Dowd offers. “I believe anyone who is capable should get a shot,” Alan affirms. “Trinidad and Tobago is a country where most everyone is brown. The US is different. I saw my father being one of the few people of African descent earning a Ph.D. from Stanford. I myself am often the only African-American person in the room for business meetings and conferences. I care about equal access, equal opportunity, the ability for people to reach their full potential. And that’s what O’Dowd is about.”

In 2016, Alan and Imelda expressed their commitment to O’Dowd’s mission by co-chairing the annual Transforming Lives Dinner, a signature fundraising event supporting students who need a financial bridge to attend O'Dowd. In 2020, Alan also began chairing the Board’s Mission and Charism Effectiveness Committee, which works to ensure that the school continues to live up to the values of our charism, and partners with O’Dowd’s Director of Equity and Belonging to make sure O’Dowd’s programs continue to support all students.

Both of Alan’s children graduated from O’Dowd, and both attended UC Davis for college.Today they work in the family business. But Alan continues to serve this community. “I didn’t join the board because of my own kids,” Alan notes. “It was for other people’s kids. For families who need more support. For the grandmother who lives in a rougher part of town, and getting her grandson into O’Dowd will help transform his life. I have a heart to be there on behalf of others.”

Alan’s deep commitment to O’Dowd’s charism, most especially community in diversity, has been a tremendous asset to the school. His values-driven service has been inspirational for current parents, alumni, board members, and parents of alumni, and his financial support for O’Dowd helps to ensure the health and vitality of our mission for years to come. With the Cor Unum Award, we show utmost gratitude for how Alan has strengthened O’Dowd for future generations.


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