New HR director’s ‘baptism of fire’

Tara McGranaghan is the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas’ new human resources director. Her first day of work was March 16 — the day the majority of the chancery offices started working remotely.

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tara McGranaghan’s first day as the new director of human resources for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas was a lot like a baptism.

A baptism of fire, that is.

Her first day of work was Monday, March 16 — the first day that nearly the entire chancery staff had been told to start working from home to avoid potential exposure to coronavirus.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” said McGranaghan. “I really don’t. It’s a very unusual time for anybody in any job — whether they are brand- new or have been there for 20 years — because we’re all in this together, and we’re in water we’ve never been in before.”

Normally, one of the first things a new human resources officer would do is walk around to meet the people she would be working with. But on her first day, she was greeted by empty hallways and offices nearly devoid of human life.

“I’m looking forward to the future when the staff will come back,” said McGranaghan.

McGranaghan was born in Wichita but grew up in Overland Park. Those familiar with Irish history know that the Hill of Tara was the ancient capital of pagan Irish kings and the sacred dwelling place of the pagan Irish gods. St. Patrick is said to have gone to Tara to battle the pagan priests.

 Before she married her husband Tom, McGranaghan’s maiden name was: Ireland.

Despite her emerald-green Irish associations, McGranaghan grew up as a member of the Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village and converted to the Catholic faith. She and Tom were married at Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park.

Currently, they are members of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe. They have two adult children who no longer live at home. Tom is retired.

McGranaghan graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School and studied at Kansas State University in Manhattan, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in retail marketing.

Both Tara and Tom are KSU graduates, and, at one time, were the proud owners of a purple bus they’d take to games in Manhattan.

McGranaghan spent the first part of her career in retail at Dayton Hudson (which owns Target), Macy’s and Marshall Fields. She made the career switch to human resources while at Marshall Fields.

Next, she worked for 11 years as a member of the leadership team of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, most recently as the agency’s chief human resources officer.

In total, McGranaghan has more than 25 years of experience in human resources, and she has developed a philosophy.

“I am a true believer that if staff feels appreciated and valued,” she said, “and is given the opportunity, they will strive for success.”

Becoming part of the archdiocesan leadership was a natural, logical step.

“I live in Kansas, and I thought it would be great to work in the archdiocese where I am a parishioner,” she said.

“I loved working in Missouri,” she added, “but when they talked about parish events [in Missouri], I was always going to events in Kansas.”

The duties of human resources managers have expanded and grown more complex over the decades, including benefits administration, staff administration and workplace “culture.” The current pandemic crisis has added an element of rapid change, with many new initiatives proposed in or coming out of the U.S. Congress.

“It’s still evolving,” said McGranaghan. “We need to look at all the legislation coming out to determine how and what we need to do. Even though bills have been passed by Congress, there are still questions that need to be answered.”

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