Our discussion today is a mix of a little bit cronyism, a little bit nepotism, and a little bit just plain looks bad.
Before we get into the main topic, BCI knows that they call 66 Brooks Drive the “Pastoral Center,” not the “Chancery,” but since people have observed to us that 66 Brooks is often not “pastoral” and its location is not exactly central–and we all know it is run by the current “Chancellor”–BCI decided to call it the “Chancery” for the subject line of our post today.
Most people are aware that Fr. Robert Kickham is one of two priest-secretaries to Cardinal O’Malley, and he plays an important behind-the-scenes role as gatekeeper to the Cardinal. That means he controls a) Information that either makes it to the Cardinal for his review and action or does not make it to the Cardinal, and b) Access to the Cardinal, meaning some people can get time with him and some people cannot get time with him.
Fr. Kickham has a very tough job. Many people respect Fr. Kickham, or at least they say they liked him in years past–before 2004 when the members of the current regime began their takeover of the archdiocese. As the key gatekeeper, Fr. Kickham is somewhat like a “chief of staff” to the Cardinal. From the vantage-point of BCI and many others inside and outside of 66 Brooks Drive, it has appeared in recent years that Fr. Kickham has tended to grant people like Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jack Connors, Terry Donilon and others relatively free and ready access to the Cardinal, thus enabling them to wield considerable influence and power, while at the same time it has been difficult for others, including many priests, to get any time with the Cardinal.
Anyway, suffice to say that with all BCI has written about cronyism and nepotism over the past year, and with all of controversy over sham searches, one would think that the archdiocese would finally come around and find a way of letting people who are qualified for open jobs actually apply for them and get the jobs, and avoiding any appearance that friends and family always have the inside track for open positions. Not necessarily, it seems.
Not long ago, an opening came up for a Parish Services Consultant in Jim McDonough’s organization, reporting into Denise McKinnon-Biernat. (BCI previously wrote why there was an opening, but that is not germane to this story so we removed that sentence). Here is the job description posted online for the job:
The Parish Service Consultant is a multifunctional specialist role that Parish Financial Services Parish Financial Consultantreports directly to the Director of Parish Financial Services and serves as a liaison between the Archdiocese, its Parishes, the Regional Vicars and Bishops. The Parish Service Consultant provides financial analysis communication, support and implementation of Archdiocesan policies to assist parishes. Specific responsibilities include analysis, training and support to parishes in the areas of financial management, planning, budget review, real estate, insurance, facilities, computer and personnel management. Responsibilities also include consultation among Parish Services, Regional Services and other related Archdiocesan departments and agencies, as necessary. The successful candidate will have a Bachelor Degree in Accounting, Finance, or Business Administration and minimum 7 years demonstrated work experience in accounting, finance and/or management; familiarity with real estate and/or risk management issues is a plus.
A lot of people out there looking for jobs have accounting or business degrees and work experience in accounting. A lot of people have been laid off or pushed into early retirement from the archdiocese. A lot of parish employees are well-quallified for this job. So, of all the people they could have hired for the job, by coincidence, the person hired was Christoper Kickham, cousin of Fr. Robert Kickham.
Christopher has a profile on Linkedin: one of these social media networking sites. Here is a summary of his background profile:
“Coordinated retail and institutional trading in 5000 foreign publicly traded equities in 42 countries and 18 currencies. Managed numerous client to dealer relationships, achieving superior pricing and liquidity, for one billion equity shares annually. Developed new relationships between US dealers and Fidelity Capital Markets, generating revenues in excess of six figures.”
According to Linkedin, he has been an equity trader since 1992 and has an economics degree from U Mass Amherst (not accounting, finance, or business administration as specified in the job description). BCI understands the work as an equity trader is the same sort of job that his cousin, Fr. Kickham, worked at prior to becoming a priest.
How buying and selling stocks and flagging trades for nearly 20 years prepares someone for helping parishes with their accounting using Quickbooks is not immediately apparent to BCI, but we must be missing something.
The hiring of Chris Kickham is not a secret–it was announced at a Pastoral Center staff meeting. BCI does not know how many people applied for the job through the front door and were rejected. The position is not of the level that would call for a ”nationwide search,” and there was not a “search committee” for this job like there was for the Secretary of Institutional Advancement job, slotted for Jack Connors’ crony, Kathleen Driscoll, even before the search committee convened.
The advertised job assists Denise McKinnon-Biernat on many levels. The people who have held the role have been well-liked by pastors because of their competency and customer service mindset. BCI hopes the same holds for Mr. Kickham.
Perhaps few people applied for the job and Mr. Kickham submitted a resume and cover letter to HR through the front door and was the leading candidate of many choices. But, that seems like an unlikely scenario given the number of people with strong backgrounds who keep telling BCI they have applied for jobs and never even get an interview.
Regardless of Mr. Kickham’s competency for the job and service mindset, since the background and experience listed on his public resume do not match the job description, the hiring of Fr. Kickham’s cousin gives the appearance of cronyism or nepotism. It could also give rise to the perception that maybe Fr. Kickham asked Chancellor Jim Mcdonough to help take care of his cousin, which presented an opportunity for Chancellor McDonough to return some of the many favors Fr. Kickham has done for the Chancellor. After all, does anyone believe it is a total coincidence that the daughter of Chancellor McDonough just happened to land a job as an assistant media planner at Jack Connor’s former advertising firm, Hill Holiday, without Daddy asking Jack for help?
BCI wonders why the archdiocese keeps doing this. As we reported a year ago in Cronyism IV, Nepotism I, in spring of 2007, the Chancellor propagated a no nepotism hiring policy–albeit which applied to spouses, children and siblings–but even that policy somehow exempted the Chancellor and his family, since not long after it was issued, the archdiocese hired his daughter as a new college graduate, and subsequently his son for a summer job.
The hiring of children or other family members like this ends up advancing the perception of a culture of cronyism in Braintree where one hand washes the other. BCI is of the opinion that it would benefit the archdiocese to address this situation. Yet another item for the new Vicar General to put on his list? What do you think?