Marlene Lao-Collins

2019 Parade Godmother / Madrina


Marlene Lao-Collins

Executive Director

Diocese of Trenton


Marlene Lao-Collins was appointed Executive Director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton (CCDOT) in January of 2011.  CCDOT manages 600 employees, and 250 volunteers serving over 100,000 people each year, covering the four counties of the Diocese.  Since CCDOT entered the start of its second centennial, Marlene and her team have navigated through significant changes in providing substance abuse and mental health services; rapidly responded to long-term needs of Sandy survivors across the five Diocese; implemented an award winning housing program in two counties to assist the homeless realize their dream to obtain affordable and permanent housing; and have expanded trauma-informed practices in addressing domestic violence, abuses against children and strengthening families, and have been awarded the pilot grant with the State of NJ to implement the Certified Community Behavioral Center in Mercer and an expansion grant from SAMSHA to extend our service to other parts of Mercer and Burlington. We continue to offer assistance through our food pantries and immigration services the hallmarks of Catholic Charities mission. In addition to the many immigration services we offer, we also assist unaccompanied minors reunite with their families as well as victims/survivors of human trafficking reintegrate into society. The team is mission driven focused on creating centers of excellence which reflex our Catholic values to restore dignity and independence to individuals and families, especially the poor and vulnerable. Marlene and her team wants CC to be the provider of choice for consumers, funders, donors, volunteers and potential employees so Catholic Charities can continue its mission into the next century and beyond. 

Prior to her appointment at CCDOT, Marlene was the Director of Social Concerns for the New Jersey Catholic Conference (NJCC) for twelve years where she recommended public policy positions and legislative issues of concern to the Catholic Bishops of NJ and presented those concerns to state legislators.

For ten years, Ms. Lao-Collins served as Executive Associate to the Deputy Director of the New Jersey Department of Human Services where she was engaged in a number of initiatives to improve services for at-risk populations, including people with disabilities and the elderly.  Additionally, she worked with Children’s Futures New Jersey to bring to fruition a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to incorporate interventions and strategies that would improve children’s health and well-being.

Ms. Lao-Collins has served on numerous boards including the Trenton Board of Education, NJ Advocacy Network to End Homelessness; St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton; the NJ Regional Equity Coalition; the Anti-Poverty Network of NJ; AARP Executive Council and the NJ Immigration Policy Network. She was co-founder of the Mercer County Hispanic Association and the Latina Women’s Council.

She earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Marlene’s greatest blessings was to be married to Michael Collins, who passed away May 4, 2019, for 36 years and my two sons, Eric Michael and Abraham Francis.