by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hiring into a department in the midst of transition would be a daunting prospect for many people.
For Kathy Thomas, it’s exciting.
“I’m the type of person who always wants a challenge and doesn’t like to get into a rut,” said Thomas, the new director of human resources for the archdiocese.
Thomas was hired in August 2008, succeeding director of administrative services and longtime employee Susan Carroll, who retired from the archdiocese last spring. With Donna Harrity’s recent retirement from the archdiocesan group insurance office, it seemed an appropriate time to restructure the two departments.
Now from her position as human resources director, Thomas will oversee the group insurance office as well as HR operations.
“The new organization is more of a traditional one, with human resources and benefits together as one department under the same leadership,” said Jerry Mayne, chief financial officer for the archdiocese. “With Susan and Donna leaving relatively close together, it created an opportunity to put together a more centralized and complete department.”
Thomas said she has been able to step into her role more easily thanks to the work previously done by Carroll and Harrity.
“Both Susan and Donna laid a great foundation and served very successfully in their roles for so long,” said Thomas. “I’m coming in only to build on the foundation they have pioneered here.”
Thomas’ role as human resources director combines several responsibilities. She functions directly as the human resources director of the church offices located at the chancery, administers benefits to all archdiocesan employees, and acts as a consultant to individual parishes and organizations across the archdiocese.
“Acting as a consultant for all parishes means I might have contact with the parish priest, parish administrator or bookkeeper to help them with questions about employment matters, benefits, employee relations, or employment laws,” said Thomas. “It is rewarding to serve in a consulting role and support people doing their best to serve our parishes and schools.”
Thomas came to the archdiocese with a 20-year background in human resources. At both of her previous places of employment, she was involved in significant transitions, either for the company or in her department.
“I think it’s helpful to bring that experience here and to use my skills and training in a new environment where benefits are important to so many people,” said Thomas. “I hope to understand all the complexities of our benefits program and communicate that well to the archdiocesan employees.”
Mayne said Thomas’ broad background is a tremendous asset in her role at the archdiocese.
“We were looking for someone who was not only a human resources professional but someone who had been responsible for writing policies and creating programs as well. Kathy had that in her experience,” Mayne explained. “I think she will really help us become more of a resource center for other organizations in the archdiocese.”