Archdiocese Local

New director takes on the ‘balancing act’ HR represents

Bob Roper is the new director of human resources for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Roper will support archdiocesan employees and active and retired clergy in the areas of benefits, immigration, medical leaves, onboarding, retirement plans and more. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MOIRA CULLINGS

by Moira Cullings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After nearly three decades working in human resources, the opportunity for Bob Roper to work for the Catholic Church came knocking.

“On one particular Saturday morning,” he said, “three people came to me and said, ‘Did you hear that the diocese has an opening for an HR director?’

“I was an HR director at that time, but I was in corporate America. Three people came to me, including my wife. She was the third. You have to pay attention to that.”

Roper ultimately answered the call, accepting the director of human resources position at the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He served the diocese for nine years.

Then, on Nov. 2, Roper became the director of human resources for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Carla Mills, archdiocesan chief financial officer, said that “it’s a big job” but that Roper is up to the task.

“Bob’s depth of experience in human resources, and more specifically with a diocese, was a perfect match for our needs,” she said.

Roper and his wife Kelly have been married for 41 years. They have eight children, ages 19 to 39, and four granddaughters.

The couple currently belongs to St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Gladstone, Missouri, where Roper serves as a lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

One of his favorite hobbies is collecting and reading vintage Catholic books.

Roper said he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he worked full time after high school in retail management and completed an associate’s degree at Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods in Kansas City, Missouri.

He eventually earned his undergraduate degree in an accelerated program in HR management, taking 40 credit hours in 50 weeks while married with two young children.

Roper moved from retail management into retail HR before transferring to various industries, including financial services, commercial and property management, and finally the Catholic Church.

He brings with him 37 years of experience in HR, with the most recent 12 at the director level.

In his position, Roper will be charged with serving the employees of the church offices and other archdiocesan entities.

His focus is on three areas, he said, “that of core legal compliance, building solid processes and procedures, and thinking strategically with archdiocesan leadership in the chancery and at our entities.”

Roper will support archdiocesan employees and active and retired clergy in the areas of benefits, immigration, medical leaves, onboarding, retirement plans and more.

“As director, my time is spent listening and understanding situations,” he said, “then providing guidance or making decisions as appropriate.

“It is also my pleasure to work with the four HR professionals on our team who answer questions, provide direction and solve problems each day for our entities.”

Mills said Roper brings “the right mixture of professionalism, compassion, listening skills and collaboration” to his work.

“There is a tremendous amount of work to be done each day,” she said, “and we must have processes in place to ensure that the work is accomplished while people are treated consistently, fairly and with compassion.

“This is a very hard balancing act.”

Roper takes on the role after previous director Tara McGranaghan retired.

Mills said McGranaghan stepped into her role at the beginning of COVID-19, a formidable challenge she took on gracefully, and she ultimately made a big impact on the archdiocese.

She believes Roper will also be able to accomplish much in the role.

Mills said one of the most pertinent goals is for Roper to help implement new processes to lower medical claims costs, leading to lower insurance premiums for employees and employers.

“On the more detailed level,” she said, “I am confident that Bob will be able to tighten up our internal processes to make them easier to follow for all employees.

“Overall, Bob is a strategic thinker, and I expect we will benefit from this skill by being able to focus our scarce resources where they will have the most impact.”

Roper is most looking forward to “serving the people who serve the people of God in the archdiocese.”

“To enjoy HR, you must enjoy putting the jigsaw puzzle together just as much as seeing the finished product,” he said. “Ultimately, HR serves the organization, the employee and the church.

“What could be better than that?”

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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