St. Andrew’s School and Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, La.
He served as U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Reagan. He worked as a union laborer in summers and received a B.A. in philosophy. They had three children: Kenneth, Mary Ellen, and Keith Donovan.
Donovan worked for the American Insurance Company and Schiavone Construction Company, becoming the Vice President in charge of labor relations, finance, bonding and real estate in 1959, and by 1971 its Executive Vice President. Reagan appointed Donovan the Secretary of Labor on February 4, 1981, and he served in this office until March 15, 1985. Under his secretaryship, he reduced the department's staff and budget, granted regulatory relief to businesses through changes in Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) enforcement practices, revised the Davis-Bacon rules, modified Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) rules, created new industrial home work rules, and revised the federal compliance regulations.
Schiavone Construction was obligated to subcontract part of the work to a minority-owned enterprise. The essence of the charge was that because the minority owned firm (Jo-Pel Contracting and Trucking Corp) leased equipment from Schiavone, that it was not truly independent of Schiavone. On May 25, 1987, Donovan (and all of the other defendants) were acquitted, after which Donovan was famously quoted as asking, "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" Donovan held 50% ownership in Schiavone Construction until its late 2007 sale to a Spanish conglomerate.
He is a part owner of the Fiddler's Elbow Country Club.
Chairman lay board directors Shrine of St. Josephs, Stirling, New Jersey. Chairman lay board advisors Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity.
Married Catherine Sblendorio, 1957. Children: Kenneth, Mary Ellen, Keith.