Nicholas Cecere, executive vice president and chief distribution officer of Thrivent, and the Rev. Patrick Griffin, C.M., ’75, executive director of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s University, have been named to the Niagara University Board of Trustees. The appointments were announced by the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of the university.
Cecere joined Thrivent, a Fortune 500 diversified financial services organization, in 2021. In his current role, he leads a division that includes all distribution operations of the organization and is responsible for Thrivent’s network of financial advisors across the country. He also oversees centers of excellence for advice, advisor growth, practice growth and wholesaling, along with Thrivent’s virtual advice, field compensation, strategic execution, and Thrivent Investment Management Inc. teams.
Cecere started his career as a financial advisor with John Hancock Financial Services before joining Principal Financial Group in 1996 as a field management consultant for the Principal Advisor Network. He was promoted to vice president in January 2004 and, in 2009, assumed responsibility for all U.S. insurance solutions sales and distribution channels.
Cecere earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Utica University and his Chartered Life Underwriter designation from The American College. He is a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and GAMA International. He also is a committee member of LIMRA International's Distribution Leadership Round Table, as well as a member of the GAMA executive board.
“Nicholas Cecere’s exceptional professional experience and success will be a strategic asset for Niagara University as we navigate the current landscape in higher education,” said Father Maher. “As a parent of a former Niagara University student, he has seen the impact of our transformative education and is dedicated to ensuring that same experience continues to shape the lives and careers of our graduates.”
Father Griffin was ordained a Vincentian priest in 1979. After completing a doctorate in biblical studies at the Catholic University of America, Griffin taught at various Vincentian seminaries and universities, including Niagara, from 1984-93. He then lived in Rome for six years to serve as international treasurer of the Congregation of the Mission. Upon his return, he taught at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., from 2000-2008. He served on the St. John's University board of trustees from 1996-2008, before becoming the university's executive vice president for mission and branch campuses. The Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission appointed Father Griffin director general for the Daughters of Charity in Paris from 2010-14. In March of 2014, Father Griffin returned to St. John’s University, where he assumed his current position.
From 2009-2017, Father Griffin served his alma mater as a trustee and, in 2017, Niagara University presented him with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
“As a Catholic and Vincentian institution, we recognize our responsibility to positively impact the community in which we live and work. Father Griffin’s leadership will be invaluable as we continue creating a diverse campus environment and elevate initiatives that align service with academics to prepare our students to be change makers and citizens of the world,” Father Maher said.