Joseph E. O’Harahas a long history of service to Central New York and involvement in the city’s Irish-American community.
He has been the executive director of PEACE, Inc., since 2001. O’Hara led the agency into a period of fiscal stability and program expansion. Under his stewardship, the agency’s annual revenue has increased from $14,370,154 in 2001 to $28,161,358 in 2010. At the same time, staff has increased from 300 employees to 460 employees and services offered to the community have increased across the agency.
O’Hara and his wife, Ann, live in the Strathmore neighborhood of the Syracuse where they raised their four children. Recently they became grandparents.
O’Hara began his career in Onondaga County working for the Department of Social Services and then the Probation Department. He went on to hold leadership positions with the state of New York (including several years as director of the State Fair) and Catholic Charities of Central New York. Throughout his career, his primary concern has been helping individuals and families struggling to overcome the obstacles of poverty. He has worked consistently to improve the quality of life in Central New York for the most vulnerable populations.
He is the son of the late Robert V. O’Hara, a Syracuse city judge, and Mary O’Hara, a native of LaFayette who graduated from Syracuse University at the age of 19. Our grand marshal grew up on West Onondaga Street in Syracuse, the third of 11 children. His oldest sister, Maureen, now deceased, is honored each year by the Teal There’s a Cure run, which raises awareness of ovarian cancer. The second-eldest sibling, the Rev. Michael O’Hara, is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Lowell, Mass., and will be the homilist at the St. Patrick’s Parade Mass on parade day, March 12, in Syracuse.
The O’Haras are members of Most Holy Rosary Parish. O’Hara graduated from Most Holy Rosary, and received a B.A. in political science from Providence College and a master’s degree from Fordham University.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Waterford Crystal Award from the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, the Outstanding New Yorker Award from the New York State Jaycees and the Providence College Alumni Association Faithful Friar Award. He has served in leadership positions with the Education and Human Development Committee of the City of Syracuse, Common Council of the City of Syracuse, Providence College Board of Governors and Syracuse St. Patrick’s Parade.