Janet Pape to step aside at Catholic Charities on May 1

Janet Pape, executive director of Catholic Charities, on May 2 will begin missing the beautiful view of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception she has from her office in Wichita. (Advance photo)

By Christopher M. Riggs
The 18 years as head of Catholic Charities have flown by Janet Pape said last week while reminiscing about her tenure as head of the diocesan ministry.
“There was such growth and evolution going on, I was challenged,” she said. “I kept very much engaged, and grew more passionate about the work of this organization.”
Pape, executive director of Catholic Charities, has announced that her work at the ministry will end next year. She will retire effective May 1.
The job has been a wonderful, blessed opportunity, she said, adding that she feels grateful that she’s been able to do the work of the church. She said she is most proud of all the building that was accomplished during her tenure.
“I’m very proud that, working with numbers of great people, we’ve been able to grow the mission, make it very strong, grow and enhance our services, and become a community leader,” Pape said. “Catholic Charities, I think, has a good reputation. It’s known for its extensive outreach to the community, so this agency is on very solid ground.”
The biggest thrill of her nearly two decades with Charities, she said, was completing the capital campaign that resulted in the construction of replacements for the St. Anthony Family Shelter and Harbor House. “That’s been a big accomplishment for the organization because it’s so enabled us to improve our services to those populations.”
Does she have any advise for the person who will succeed her?
“I would say to that person that they’re going to be coming into a great organization with a lot of very fine individuals on staff, an excellent board of directors, and a bishop who is very supportive of Catholic Charities.
“I just wish them the best that they will keep the mission strong, keep their finger on the needs of the community, and work with all of the necessary players to chart the future of this organization for many, many years to come.”
Pape said she will leave Catholic Charities “to pursue what I am calling ‘active retirement,’ lots of travel, more time with friends and family, and as it unfolds, some community engagement and maybe just a little work.”
She will remain on the national board of Catholic Charities USA for at least another year.
Charities’ board of directors has formed a search committee to begin the process of finding a successor. Pape told colleagues that she has put much thought into the timing of her retirement, taking into consideration the agency’s next re-accreditation process, upcoming new initiatives, and the agency’s budgeting cycle.
Her successor will have a full plate of new challenges, she said.
“Janet’s leadership has moved the agency in new strategic directions and has guided the way to a mission driven, financially stable, and well managed non-profit organization,” said Les Depperschmidt, chair of the Catholic Charities board of directors.
“We will certainly miss her outstanding leadership abilities and wish her the very best in her active retirement.”
The goal for the search committee is to have someone in place so that Pape can work with her successor prior to May 1.
Under Pape’s more than 17 years as director, Catholic Charities, Inc. – Diocese of Wichita has:
• Increased its budget from $2 million to $8 million from 1992 to now, enabling an enhanced service delivery structure and new programming to be developed in response to community needs.
• Developed two advisory councils that lead two successful fund-raising events to support the work of Catholic Charities shelters;
• Developed a strong board of directors involvement and gained recognition across the region;
• Planned, launched, and completed Shelter the Heart, the first capital campaign in the agency’s history, gaining numerous new supporters for Catholic Charities and building two shelters that welcome families with children (St. Anthony Family Shelter) and women and children fleeing abuse (Harbor House);
• Implemented its first multi-million dollar research-based grant focused on marriage enrichment, which has gained recognition as a project leader across the nation;
• Launched a $1 million grant in collaboration with community partners to end teen dating violence