Newsflash: Welcome Another Six-Figure Salary to 66 Brooks Drive

Welcome back, post-blizzard, to the latest edition of Boston Catholic Insider.  We are now back in town safe and sound and were primarily going to focus on another topic today—namely, the fungible nature of fund-raising from the Archdicoese, but the alarm bells are going off over the latest move by Chancellor Jim McDonough—the hiring of an Executive Director of Finance and Operations, making in the high six-figures, along with yet another organizational change.  Anyone thinking about making an end-of-year donation check to the Catholic appeal may want to read further before you break open the checkbook.

First, has anyone else noticed that for the first time in six years, there is no published fund-raising goal for the 2010 Catholic Appeal?  Parishes have a number they are each supposed to raise and pastors are hounded by the fund-raising team to meet that goal, but the new Jack Connors/Jim McDonough-conceived archdiocesan fund-raising apparatus as a whole has no published goal?  (When the campaign launched earlier this year, they only said they wanted to “match last year’s success.”)  Does that mean enthusiasm level, or the numerical goal of $15 million?  How are Kathleen Driscoll and her “dream team” of people from the Campaign for Catholic Schools going to be measured and held accountable?  What are the consequences for their future employment if they miss?  By the way, who knows how far off their target the Campaign for Catholic Schools “2010 initiative”–whose name suggests the campaign ends in 3 days—will fall?  When Kathleen Driscoll was announced to head the new development entity, they were $12 million short of their $70 million target.  Will the team that will probably fail at hitting that goal also fail to reach the unstated target for the Catholic Appeal? 

With the economy still depressed and 40% of parishes in the red, what is the exact amount raised to date in the 2010 Catholic Appeal?  How far off are they expected to be and what will happen to make up for the shortfall?   We hear there are already tensions between pastors and Ms. Driscoll over the Appeal, so who knows what will happen as the extent of a potential fund-raising shortfall becomes clearer.

People who work for the Pastoral Center know the routine when it comes to pruning from the budget.  Shortly after the appeal closes, former banker, Chancellor McDonough, will know how much money he has in the bank, and then the annual expense reduction panic will set in. Meetings with each department head will be scheduled and tracked in a spreadsheet to discuss how they will cut money (expense or heads) from their budgets. Some pastoral ministry or ministries that previously were important will now become less important as they are put on the chopping block, and some long-time loyal employee(s) working for $40-50K will be put on the 2011 layoff list.

This all is a backdrop to the news du jour, namely, that Chancellor Jim McDonough has hired a new Executive Director of Finance and Operations.  Here is the email notice. 

From:McDonough, James P. [mailto:James_McDonough@rcab.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 8:57 AM
To: _Pastoral_Center
Subject: Welcoming John Straub, Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Central Ministries

Good morning, I am pleased to announce that Mr. John Straub will be joining the Archdiocese of Boston as the Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Central Ministries. John joins the Finance and Administration Secretariat and will report to me. John will start on January 2nd. His office will be located on the fourth floor of the Pastoral Center.

In this position, John will provide Central Ministries with a valuable skill set that will enable stronger internal project management and help improve communication and coordination among our various staffs. John brings to this position a breadth of experience that will be of significant assistance to the Archdiocese as we continue the effort to rebuild and strengthen our local Church for the benefit of our 1.8 million Catholics. A graduate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., John has served as Chief Financial Officer of the White House during the Administration of President George W. Bush and as Chief Financial Officer of the US House of Representatives. He previously served as an Associate Dean at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The addition of John as Executive Director of Finance and Operations is intended to provide improved management and oversight in these critical areas. It also acknowledges the wide scope of the Administration and Finance Secretariat and provides the necessary management depth to effectively meet the diverse and complex needs of our parishes, schools and ministries.

John will have the following individuals as his direct reports:
· Joe McEnness, Director of Risk Management
· Kevin Kiley, Director of Budget and Planning
· Glen Mattera, Director of Finance
· Jim DiFrancesco, Director of Human Resources
· Director of IT (search underway)

I will continue to have Carol Gustavson, Pension/Medical Plan Trust Administrator, as a direct report.

In addition to her role as Trust Administrator, Carol will continue to coordinate Building Operations and the central telephone operations as well as the building floor plan.

Denise McKinnon-Biernat, Director of Parish Services, will be a new direct report to me.Denise plays a critical role with the Improved Financial Relationship Model and plays a major support role in Pastoral Planning. Deb Dillon, Director of Real Estate, will report to Denise.

The Cardinal, Fr. Erikson and I are keenly aware of the need to do more with less. We recognize that everyone has taken on more and we are gratified by your tremendous work ethic and devotion to serving Christ and the Church. As Chancellor, I have endeavored to lead by reducing the most staff so that other ministries would be spared. Since I arrived at the Archdiocese, the staff headcount of my Secretariat has been reduced by 23%, declining from 91 to 70 persons. Throughout this time we have directed available resources to serve our parishes. John’s position, and the experience and love for Christ and the Catholic Faith he brings to us, is intended to continue to build on that goal as a commitment to our culture of support to parishes, schools and ministries.

Thank you,
Jim

James P. McDonough
Chancellor

Archdiocese of Boston
Pastoral Center
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184
P: 617-746-5670
F: 617-779-4571

We have so much to say about this, it has taken a little longer to put together all of our thoughts.  Here are a few initial reactions.

  1. Another big salary.  Did this one run through the new anonymous “Compensation Committee”?  Is Jack McCarthy, the vice chair of the Finance Council, paying attention to all this?  And is the Finance Council approving all this?
  2. What does this say about the ability of Chancellor McDonough and/or his direct reports (making six-figure salaries) to get the job done for the $1+M they all are already being paid collectively?  Who exactly has now been determined to be incompetent and thus will be shown the door some time soon?  The Chancellor?  one of his previous deputies?  The Archdiocese is shrinking every year, not growing, so why is it the Chancellor cannot keep up with his duties?  Is he busy engaged in activities not on his job description?  (wherever that job description may be…)  At one point, Kevin Kiley was supposed to be the Chancellor’s #2 person, but that did not work out.  Then Carol Gustavson was to be the #2, but she had the minor complicating factor of not being able to get along well with people. (Not a personal attack–objectively true).  Now we have this new person.  Is the new person being positioned to become the next Chancellor, should the current chancellor, hypothetically speaking, find his term not renewed or leave voluntarily? 
  3. What exactly are the job descriptions, goals/success metrics, accountabilities, and competencies needed for the positions that Kevin Kiley and Carol Gustavson hold today?  Are they maintaining their jobs because they are highly competent and capable of doing these jobs, or because the Chancellor sees them as loyal to his agenda?
  4. Who has decided to pay Carol Gustavson $150K to manage benefits, the building floorplan and the phone system, or even keep her–a trained, non-practicing attorney–in a job in view of the reduction in responsibilities? She is no longer listed as head of HR in the memo, so has her pay been reduced?  How many minutes a month could managing the building floorplan for a continually shrinking Pastoral Center staff possibly take?  Does everyone not already have a cube, or are they planning a New Years game of musical chairs along with the reorg? Or might the Chancellor, hypothetically, simply want or need to have a loyalist continue to control who gets cubes vs offices, and the size of offices for those who get them? Regarding the telephone system, did they not get rid of the phone operator, as it is mostly automated now? By the way, is Carol managing the mailroom delivery as well?  That should add lots of extra burden on her schedule–what, with a relatively new person on-board who replaced the long-term loyal mail-room guy with decades of service who was laid off because they did not realize he was really needed, then never rehired, and replaced by a newcomer? 
  5. Does no one see that $150K/year for the proudly ex-Catholic Gustavson as excessive spending for that role?  Has anyone compared that compensation to other dioceses?  (We have, and the information we got back said it objectively excessive).  She cannot even publish a list of trustees for her Benefits Trust. Can that same job not be done for around $75K/year instead?   By the way, were there not people previously in HR at the RCAB skilled with benefits doing basically this same job for much less pay who are now gone?
  6. Was this an open search?  How many candidates were interviewed?  Why is it that the announcement mentions nothing of Mr. Straub’s most recent job stint for 4 years in a largely non-relevant role as VP for Kane is Able, a small Scranton, PA-based family-run third-party logistics provider that helps consumer packaged goods companies warehouse and distribute goods?  How is it that, coincidentally, that the new person just happened to have previously been at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where Fr. Bryan Hehir earns his own six-figure salary and cushy future pension that will afford him freedom from any of the retirement-related worries that other less well-connected diocesan priests have to worry about?
  7. The comment that “As Chancellor, I have endeavored to lead by reducing the most staff so that other ministries would be spared” needs to be explained more completely.  How many lower-level staff were laid-off and replaced by much more expensive staff?”  How much has he spent on consultants?  How much has been spent on the ill-conceived Lawson Software project?  The comment “Throughout this time we have directed available resources to serve our parishes,” is also deceptive. We will go into this more separately.
  8. Where is the publicly posted copy of the 2010-2011 operating budget, as part of the financial transparency and improved financial relationship model?  The 2010 budget is posted, but here we are half-way through the fiscal year, and no sign of the 2010-2011 budget.  Why is it so difficult for the Chancellor or someone on his $1.1M staff to post the budget?  Exactly how far through the year are you going to tell pastors who are asked to break their backs raising money for the Appeal how you are spending that money? 

Apologies for any excessive emotion that comes through in this post.  We are livid and believe every pastor, priest and lay person in the archdiocese should be as well. 

We have been told, and we concur, that there are 3 things that drive some action by this archdiocese–lawsuits (or threat of them), bad publicity (or threat of it), and money.

It is clear that the current leadership does not get it, and they need a wake-up call from both the clergy and laity.  Something radically different needs happen quickly with governance in the archdiocese.  We have a few ideas, but will save those for a next post.

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19 Responses to Newsflash: Welcome Another Six-Figure Salary to 66 Brooks Drive

  1. Kathy D says:

    This is very disappointing news, I will be eagerly waiting to read your ideas. I wonder if there’s one good couragous Priest to lead a One Day Rosary Crusade for Heaven’s intercession to clean up 66 Brooks Drive & advertised widely for participation from the laity?

  2. PriestsForTransparency.com says:

    McDonough’s claims of headcount reduction need to be called out:

    1. How much have total salaries INCREASED in his Secretariat over the same time period? Before and after consultants?

    2. He completely neglects to mention that his administration secretariat had been completely spared of cuts in the 2 rounds prior to him coming on board, so some of his cuts are just playing catch up.

    3. Why does only McDonough get to reorganize by INCREASING staff/headcount? The Schools Office continually said that the 3 new associate superintendent positions came from 5 positions that were eliminated. Of course he’ll say that Gustavson is now on a different payroll – but that’s garbage. The pathetic thing is that McDonough thinks people believe him.

    It’s REALLY unusual that the new hire’s most recent employer was neglected from his introductory email. That sends up red flags, doesn’t it?

    I’ve never heard of Mr. Straub. I hope and pray he is an orthodox Catholic whose skills match his resume. I hope he rose to his position at Congress and the White House for competence, not connections, and because of leadership not loyalty.

    Perhaps McDonough hired him because he hopes Straub still has connections at Homeland Security and the FBI so he can finally root out you guys at Boston Catholic Insider!

    • Carolyn says:

      From Mr. McDonough’s email announcement to the staff at #66:

      /////////////////////////
      In this position, John will provide Central Ministries with a valuable skill set that will enable stronger internal project management and help improve communication and coordination among our various staffs. John brings to this position a breadth of experience that will be of significant assistance to the Archdiocese as we continue the effort to rebuild and strengthen our local Church for the benefit of our 1.8 million Catholics. A graduate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., John has served as Chief Financial Officer of the White House during the Administration of President George W. Bush and as Chief Financial Officer of the US House of Representatives. He previously served as an Associate Dean at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The addition of John as Executive Director of Finance and Operations is intended to provide improved management and oversight in these critical areas. It also acknowledges the wide scope of the Administration and Finance Secretariat and provides the necessary management depth to effectively meet the diverse and complex needs of our parishes, schools and ministries.
      /////////////////////////////

      What the heck does that mean? Who writes this stuff? Where I work, a person proposing to send this out in an Everyone email would be given a do-over and asked to make sense.

      So they’ve brought someone in over everyone (except Carol Gustavson) who used to report to the chancellor. John Straub and, through internal reshuffle, Denise McKinnon Biernat, will now oversee everyone on the non-ministry side. (DMcKB, a +Lennon hire, is the smartest and most ethical person RCAB ever employed. There’s hope!)

      So with only three employees reporting directly to McDonough, and with no direct responsibilities of his own, what does he do? How does he while away the time? Besides sitting in meetings spinning the wheel on his Blackberry, what does he do?

      Maybe he could take up knitting.

  3. Former Employee says:

    Funny that these people can get paid so much when they have refused to give raises at the 2010 initiative pilot school in Brockton this year. How does that work? These teachers/staff are already underpaid, unappreciated, and lied to by the administration. It doesn’t seem right to withhold raises from them.

  4. PC Employee says:

    I agree with everything PriestsforTransparency said, and want to just add one minor point. For all this money they are spending, on top of it all, they recently had a temp manning a table with a checklist handing out Christmas cards to employees, because it seems greeting employees personally once a year is beneath the dignity of everyone making six-figure salaries, as well as the Vicar General or Cardinal.

    May seem like a small issue, but it’s symbolic. Used to be there was a Christmas card with each person’s name on it, $25 inside, and signed by Cardinal Law, who actually took the time to personally know who most people were at the Chancery. In the current regime, the card isn’t signed–just like the letter from the anonyomous Benefits Trust trustees. We went to the table with the temp who has no idea who you were, they checked your name off a list, and you got the card with the small cash gift.

    Am not complaining about the gift, but there high-paid execs and the Cardinal as well now can’t be troubled to take the time to do anything personally–everything requires some minion be hired, as interacting with the serfs who do the work is somehow beneath them.

    Keep up the good work, BCI!

  5. DBP says:

    Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but if you read between the lines in this email from Jim McDonough, might not the following be possible?

    - Carol “the lefty” Gustavson is losing the most important of her several hats, and she is one of the few “direct reports” remaining for McDonough in the Secretariat;

    - Straub is taking on the “direct reports” that, up until McDonough’s time, were the core of the Chancellor’s position;

    - McDonough’s “direct reports” now amount to someone with oversight of the floorplan of the Pastoral Center and of the telephone system, and “Director of Parish Services” (whatever that might be!)

    - McDonough’s email ends with a self-serving litany of how hard he’s worked to achieve the Cardinal’s goals, and a stated “hope” that Straub will “continue to build on” the foundation that he, McDonough, has laid.

    It seems pretty apparent, in corporation-speak, that Gustavson has annoyed a lot of people (maybe the continuous portrayal of her on this blog as “proudly ex-Catholic” has had a part in it, too) and is on her way out – and soon.

    It also seems pretty apparent that McDonough is being positioned for an upcoming email that thanks him for his generous service to the Archdiocese and at the same time welcomes Straub as the next Chancellor.

    It may be just wishful thinking, but if you can decipher corporation-speak, I’m just saying….

    By the way, did anyone else notice McDonough’s positioning himself as part of the (holy?) triumvirate? “The Cardinal, Fr. Erikson and I are . . .”

    Good riddance to bad rubbish, IMHO.

  6. SAd Boston Priest says:

    Not all that long ago, Msgr. Fred Murphy {A very fine, holy priest + former Rector of the Cathedral{before the expensive palatial renovation of the rectory for the Humble-Friar-Prince] was also known as the Diocesean Exorcist.
    “Father Fred” no longer has that role. I think it is clearly time to call upon the services of whoever replaced “Fr.Fred”. If there has been no replacement, I think it is URGENT to appoint a replacement and begin the RITUAL!
    St. Michael defend us in the battle!

  7. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    The whole announcement reeks of cronyism.

    Kane and Able, where Straub last worked, ships boxes and runs warehouses. That’s why it’s not in the announcement–’cause it has nothing to do with the position he was just hired. No mention of him ever working in the Catholic Church–perfect qualifications for the job! If I walked in with my most experience being in shipping and warehousing of candy, alcohol, Gatorade, and Tropicana orange juice, unless I knew someone, I’d never get an interview. Oh sorry, this is the Archdiocese of Boston.

  8. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    Another thing. What exactly are the professional qualifications of Mr. Jim DiFrancesco to head HR? And is he a Catholic in full communion with the Roman Catholic church, or do we now have our second HR Director who is not in communion with the church?

    Many changes for Mr. DiFrancesco lately it seems. His promotion to Director of HR, and his recent 2nd marriage, listed in the Providence Journal.

    http://www.projo.com/weddings/content/brides-ccarreiro-couple_09-12-10_80JMUB7_v5.8ead36.html

    “Carolyn Carreiro of Bristol and James DiFrancesco of Seekonk were married July 10 in a ceremony at the home of the groom. The Rev. Robert Bernier officiated. The bride is the daughter of John and Barbara Dadswell of Heathfield, England. The groom is the son of Anne Nevin of West Palm Beach, Fla., and the late Louis DiFrancesco.”

    The Rev. Bernier is pastor of the local branch branch of the Christian Life Church in Rehoboth, an independent, non-denominational church.
    http://thesunchronicle.com/articles/2010/01/29/features/6662482.txt

    OK, so lots of people have second marriages, and people say Jim is at least a practicing Catholic, which is one whole heck of a lot better than Carol Gustavson. BCI, this isn’t a personal attack–just sharing public news about his wedding outside of the Catholic church the individual himself publicized.

    • anna says:

      A practicing Catholic?

      Since when can a practicing Catholic get married in their living room by a minister and be eligible for the Eucharist? Practicing in what sense of the word?

  9. bitsnbytes says:

    Could it perhaps be a positive sign that Mr. Straub has experience working in the real world of a for-profit company?

    • anna says:

      By all means, his business expertise in the field of packing things into corrugated boxes could be a very positive sign they are getting ready for the collapse.

  10. Catherine&John says:

    Please God let the New Year bring change at the RCAB and we hope it starts w cleaning out the communications dept by ridding of Terry Donilan – replacement with a Catholic man or woman of God adept at articulating the Catholic faith and communicating well in charity with a charism of love and joy.

  11. A. J. Constantino says:

    Good Wednesday Morning!

    Let’s look at several positives, in this post:

    1.) Chancellor McDonough sent a clear and concise email to the Pastoral Center Staff. There is no question of Mr. Straub’s background, experience or what is expected of him in his role as Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Central Ministries.

    2.) We should be encouraged by this statement: “John will provide Central Ministries with a valuable skill set that will enable stronger internal project management and help improve communication and coordination among our various staffs.” If it comes to pass a step in the right direction!

    3.) Perhaps Chancellor McDonough is shifting his priorities from “day to day” operations to more long range strategic management responsibilities. Ms Gustavson has the responsibility of the Pension/Medical Plan – two key issues for Priests and lay employees. A Pension Funded that is $120.0 million “short” should be a top priority, In addition, medical insurance costs have to be constantly monitored and evaluated. (I’ll add the ONLY way the phone at 66 brooks drive should be answered is by a person FORGET automated services.) I also feel that by having the director of arish Services report to the Chancellor, perhaps there is recognition that “ the Chancery exits for the parishes not the parishes existing for the Chancery”.

    We all agree the RCAB needs a defined “Master Plan” is this the start?

    • TheCatholicInsider says:

      1 – The Chancellor just relieve himself of his duties. Perhaps more time for family trips, dinners, and golf trips.

      2 – We now have a Bank structure, were the COO reports to the President just like in McDonough’s days in the banking industry.

      3 – McDonough could never shift priorities since he has little clue on how the ministries function.

      Here is a better start to a Master Plan:

      1- Get the bridge between Clergy and Lay Staff connected.
      2- Work with Parish Planning Office to begin executing the Plan that has already been developed with NO action or further progress.
      3- Really analyze the situation in the entire Archdiocese and then move forward with the beginning stages of developing a Master Plan.

      This entire effort is going to take a great deal of effort and buy in to develope such a massive plan. The more time is delayed, the more the Archdiocese will act on NO money motion, because is easier to do so, then actually perform the work that needs to be done.

      Now, let’s look at the future:

      - The Vicar General departing, if not already in the works.
      - The Chancellor probably retiring, and positioning this new position to be the next Chancellor.

      - Other Ministry positions will shift as the time is about to expire and reappoint new Directors in the ministries.

      What are we left with? The beginning process once again…

      • DBP says:

        If you’ve ever met McDonough, you know the very LAST thing he would ever do is voluntarily reduce the size and scope of his direct authority. He is, in a word, megalomaniacal.

        Therefore, when we see his “direct reports” being re-routed to others, we must infer that the impetus for the shift came from someone else rather than McDonough himself.

        I personally think that the Cardinal is finally reacting to the odium populii that has been percolating throughout the archdiocese and in this blog in particular. I’d be willing to start a pool on the exact date the email from the Cardinal comes out thanking Jim for his service.

        (I’ve got February 4 at 5pm – just before Super Bowl Sunday and a good day to bury news).

  12. Anonymous says:

    One again, McDonough has shown his lack of respect for the rank and file employees of RCAB. Another large salary for someone who will be performing the duties that McDonough should be performing. He announces the appointment and then brags about the number of positions cut. Given the top salaries for the chosen few, these cuts save nothing. All they do is put loyal employees out on the street for the sake of McDonough’s empire.

    If I were Mattera and McEnness, I would worry about my positions. How many titles has McEnness had over the past several years? Now back to Director of Insurance. What goes around comes around. Mattera, you are the Director of Finance. Now you have been layered down. Watch out!

    Maybe the new man will realize incompetence and take care of some of the high salaries being wasted.

    I thought Kiley was a confidant of McDonough who was supposedly being groomed to be the next Chancellor. Not! Time for a new job? And Carol G. What more can be said about her?

    As a previous poster said “time for an exorcism”

  13. Former Employee says:

    Ok, for those of you who don’t know how the goal will work here it is: Just before stating that they made their goal they will hit up the big money people to close the gap which will make it appear the “the faithful have responded generously in spite of the challenging economy” (bet this is nearly a direct quote).

    I do wonder what the actual goal is, with the assessment of a Parish “tax” as it commonly referred to, that Parishes need to make up the difference in whether they like it or not, it’s not really fundraising perse, you goal is assured before you even begin with this system….it’ll make it extremely easy to pad the goal.

    Speaking for experience, if I was runnig the place I would ask them to raise 120% of the Diocese of Providence’s goal from 2010 OVER AND ABOVE THE PARISH TAX, given that Providence actually raises it’s appeal dollars for ministries as opposed to administration this would be highly appropriate now that Boston like Providence has a Parish Tax.

    In fact 120% is very, very conservative given the size of the Diocese.

    If they don’t hit 25MM-30MM, they should all get canned…..objectively speaking of course.

  14. A Priest says:

    This is absolute nonsense…what is the Chancellor doing? This new fellow seems to have the job of Chancellor without the title. I don’t understand how this is supposed to be better for us in the parishes? “If I was half the man I was 10 years ago….” – Col. Frank Slade, “Scent of a Woman”

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