Paul Tosetti’s experience as a transactional lawyer taught him to see the bigger picture.
So when Archbishop Gomez called him to discuss this year’s Award, recognizing his 20 years of leadership work with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Tosetti defaulted to his negotiating skills.
He tried to talk the Archbishop out of it.
“I’ve been to this Ceremony, and seen the extraordinary contributions that deserving recipients had made. It wasn’t false modesty – I just didn’t see my work as in the same class.”
In response, the Archbishop encouraged him not to see the Award as personal, but rather as reflective of the work of thousands of CCLA volunteers who’d served literally millions of beneficiaries during Tosetti’s years of chairing the CCLA Board. There are five million Catholics in CCLA’s service area, the Archbishop noted, and the organization touches 30% of the region’s Catholic services. Accepting the Award would honor both those who serve, and those are who served.
It was hard to say no to that.
Tosetti’s professional skills have been of great help to CCLA’s long-time Executive Director, Monsignor Gregory Cox. The organization has an annual budget of more than $40 million and a wide service base, overseeing five regions in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
“I know Paul would be the first to say there are others who have done more and are more worthy – and that’s precisely why someone like him deserves it,” said Msgr. Cox.
“With CCLA, it’s more than just governing a board. Paul’s legal background has taught him how to bring people together. We at CCLA need to balance divergent interests – those of the educational, business, spiritual and governmental communities and, above all, those of our clients; his great gift is a sense of confidence that allows him to mediate and heal.”
Tosetti talks proudly of how CCLA has solidified its fiscal position and expanded its programmatic offerings. CCLA, he says, lives the Gospel: feeding the hungry, taking in the stranger, visiting the sick and imprisoned – on a strictly non-denominational basis.
“The First Letter of Peter has a statement in it that’s important to me: ‘As we have received gifts, use them to serve one another.’ Msgr. Cox runs a great organization, and we have great staff members and volunteers. From the Board’s perspective, it’s making sure that they have the support they need.”
Reared in Decatur, Illinois, Tosetti credits his Catholic upbringing for providing a solid life foundation. And as his university experiences took him to Harvard and Oxford, he said he “never lost the importance of faith in my life.”
As parishioners at South Pasadena’s Holy Family Church with his wife Cathy and their two sons, the Tosetti family has become great friends with Monsignor Clement Connolly, visiting the Holy Land and walking the iconic Camino de Santiago with him.
Msgr. Connolly calls Tosetti “a man of authentic faith. You measure a man by the virtues of the soul. How authentic, how reliable, how transparent a person is in the witness of life. I think of Paul as a Renaissance man, and he is very generous in sharing each of his virtues. He is a leader and this award affirms his leadership in the presence of the community. When Paul receives this award, it’s a gift to me and many others who recognize his abilities and how appropriate this is.”
As a partner at Latham & Watkins and long-time co-head of its Global Mergers and Acquisitions Group, Tosetti has been involved in a wide variety of business transactions. Those include what he calls “fun” assignments like acting as counsel to Major League Soccer in its formation and working with the organizers of the U.S. World Cup hosting efforts for 1994 and 2026. He also serves as the head of the L.A. Opera’s Legal Committee and as an outside counsel to the Order of Malta.
“My skills, training and personality are my ‘gifts,’ for what they’re worth, and I’m truly pleased to apply them in a form of service.”
The calming influence of Cathy is another pillar of his character, says Msgr. Cox.
“To work in a stressful legal practice involving billion-dollar transactions, and then concurrently serving for this long as the head of CCLA’s Board, you need the support of your family. Cathy is a true partner of Paul in his work, and a great supporter of Catholic causes in her own right.
“I am reminded of a quote that I think fits Paul. The renowned Dr. Albert Schweitzer was once asked about the secret to life. He replied: If you truly seek to be happy, learn and understand how to serve. Paul has joy and happiness in his life, not just because of his profession and his family, but because of his ability to serve.”
As it celebrates its 100th anniversary, CCLA provides Tosetti with a practical way to fulfill the direction in St. Peter’s Letter. “The work of Catholic Charities helps show the Church at its best. I’m proud to play my supporting role.”