Don Kavanagh’s dedication, service and love for La Salle Academy has spanned more than half a century. He was raised in Providence, RI, the sixth of seven children born to Edward and Thelma Kavanagh. Don followed his four older brothers, Paul,William, James, and Thomas to La Salle where he proved himself to be both a scholar and an athlete. After graduation, he studied history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
In 1973, Don returned to La Salle as a member of the faculty. In the classroom, he committed himself to the instruction of anatomy and physiology, as well as physical education. He later became the Physical Education Department chair. Don was a State Championship winning coach of the Cross Country team and led the Track and Field programs. He served on the faculty of La Salle Academy until the fall of 1984.
In 1984, Don was named assistant principal and athletic director of St. Raphael Academy, a Lasallian school in Pawtucket. To deepen his relationship with the Christian Brothers, he attended the Lasallian Leadership Institute, Huether Conference, and the Lasallian Leadership Conference. In 1987, he was named the Distinguished Lasallian Educator of the year. At the conclusion of nine years at St. Ray’s he was named director of Athletics and Student Activities at Barrington High School, a position he held for six years.
Don returned home to La Salle Academy in 1999 as assistant principal and senior class dean and then in 2000 he was named principal.
During the course of the next 22 years, he oversaw the expansion of La Salle’s campus and the development of our school’s mission. His tenure saw the construction of the Walter McLaughlin Athletic Center, The Brother Michael Mc Kenery Arts Center, the Shea Science Building and Student Center and the renovations of the Cronin Fields. His leadership during the COVID pandemic ensured learning continued while keeping students and faculty safe. Don’s devotion to academic excellence, athletic supremacy, and artistic distinction propelled La Salle forward to becoming the premier educational institution in New England.
In 2018, Don was declared an Affiliate Brother of the Christian Schools. Affiliation is the highest and most rare honor bestowed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. To affiliate is to be recognized as a spiritual son or daughter of Saint John Baptist De La Salle. It affirms that his work for the advancement of the Institute of the Christian Brothers was done at great personal sacrifice and so he was publicly acknowledged as one of their own. As an affiliate member, Don has participated to an extraordinary degree in the life of the Christian Brothers and shares in their belief and values: religious faith, love for young people, enthusiasm for Catholic and human education, sensitivity to the needs of the poor and commitment to Christ and His Gospel.
Don and his late wife, Christine, a long-time teacher of music, chorale and theater at St. Mary’s Academy Bay View, raised two sons, Matthew (Alexandra) and Patrick (Lindsay). He is the grandfather of Eloise.