By Kay Cozad
FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades has named Gloria Whitcraft as Catholic Charities new executive director. Her appointment, which begins March 3, marks an exciting new chapter for the nonprofit social service organization.
Bishop Rhoades says of the appointment, “I am truly happy that Gloria Whitcraft will be the new director of Catholic Charities in our diocese. Gloria’s extensive background in social services and her strong commitment to the mission of Catholic Charities are a blessing for the future of Catholic Charities in our diocese. I am looking forward to working together with Gloria, the Board of Directors, and the staff and volunteers in extending the charitable work of the Church in our diocese.”
“The service of the poor and needy is an essential part of the Church’s mission,” Bishop Rhoades adds. “I am very grateful to Lisa Young for her excellent service as interim director of Catholic Charities the past several months and for her continued service as associate director.”
Whitcraft is honored by the appointment and says, “As a Catholic, it is truly a dream come true to do the work I’m so passionate about in service to the Church to which I am completely devoted, and in this diocese where I am proud to live and worship.”
As a devoted Catholic she brings that identity to the position and says, “I consider social service work to be a mission and vocation, not simply a job. My faith is the most important part of my life. The love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is my guide and what makes it possible for me to demonstrate the same with the people I am privileged to meet and serve.”
A native of Massachusetts, Whitcraft and her family moved to Florida where she graduated from high school and began her professional career in human resources for a leading bank in that state. She moved to Fort Wayne in 1992, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education with a marriage and family counseling major at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. She is licensed in the state of Indiana as a marriage and family therapist.
In the past 17-years, Whitcraft has worked for several social service agencies covering multiple counties in northern Indiana, including 13 years at Lutheran Social Services of Indiana and most recently Choices, Inc.
Whitcraft holds high hopes for the organization she will soon lead. “I will hold myself accountable to our stakeholders, donors, staff and most importantly the people who come to Catholic Charities for help, healing and support,” she says, adding, “I am excited about the prospect of expanding our service opportunities to and our leadership role in the communities that are a part of our diocese. I hope to cultivate additional collaborations with other social service organizations in the diocese so that together we can make the greatest impact in the lives of individuals and families in need.”
Whitcraft notes that she also hopes to extend more information about Catholic Charities to the parishes of the diocese, saying, “I want people to know what we’re doing. I want people to be excited and want to volunteer and donate.”
Lisa Young, who for the past several months has stood in as interim director, is pleased with Whitcraft’s appointment noting that she will bring a balance of administrative skills and a firm belief in vocation.
“She’s a good fit,” says Young, “with her extensive background in social services, working with clients and stakeholders. She’ll work well with the different components of the diocese.”
Young and Whitcraft met years ago and are both excited to be working together again. “She’s a wonderful person. We’ll make a good team,” says Young, adding, “This will make our move complete.”
Board of Directors President Pat Houlihan agrees that Whitcraft is a good fit. He says, “We were fortunate to have some very fine candidates applying for the position, many of which were motivated by more of a calling within their faith than a furtherance in their employment career. That was very apparent in Gloria who also had a career background of experience that was very compatible with Catholic Charities services and its mission. She feels extremely excited and blessed to be offered the position and the board shares similar feelings about her acceptance and role providing new leadership at Catholic Charities.”
Whitcraft is confident that, as part of the Catholic Charities team she can make a difference. “I manage with compassion and love and serve the staff as well as those they serve. … I found I have the greatest impact in a leadership position. I’m very much a servant-leader,” she says.
She continues, “I look forward to serving under Bishop Rhoades’ leadership and partnering with the Board of Directors and staff of Catholic Charities to maintain the organization’s outstanding reputation in our community. … I also look forward to meeting the other members of the Catholic Charities staff and hearing from them about their vision for the future of the organization.”
Whitcraft has three children. Her oldest is a senior in college in Florida and the younger two children attend Catholic schools in Fort Wayne. The Whitcrafts attend St. Jude Parish in Fort Wayne.
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