“I never pictured myself as a CEO. But after working for CFS for a year and a bit, the CEO at the time, Fr. Jack Kirley, called me into his office. I thought, “What did I do?” He shared with me his intention to retire and encouraged me to consider applying for the position. I did apply and fortunately I was successful. At that time, we were a small agency, with 12 or 15 counselling staff and a couple of support staff. Under Jack, the agency had developed a reputation for having strong professional standards and being a trustworthy partner. Our work with the Louise Dean Centre started during his time. CFS also managed The Alex Community Health Centre back then. Jack had been planting seeds in the organization to become more community-oriented and to develop partnerships. I took over as CEO in 1984 and continued in the role for the next 27 years. Over that time Catholic Family Service moved from being a competent “family counselling” organization to a “family service” organization. I may have been the CEO but the growth was driven by the many talented staff that made up our family.
There’s always a time to pass the torch, but it’s important to pass it to the right person. First there was our founder, Fr. Pat O’Byrne, who was committed to serving the vulnerable. Frank Bach was next and he was a champion for trained professionalism. Jack Kirley reminded everyone about the need for community engagement. My contribution was establishing a wide range of services, promoting volunteerism and creating the Unlocking Potential Foundation. When I retired, Patricia Jones became CEO, and as she has ably demonstrated, was completely up to the challenge! This is a values-based organization with a history of doing new and interesting things. People work here because it fits their values and they know they are making an impact on the world. All those years I worked at CFS, I had fun and I know that we did good work. I know this remarkable organization will continue to make a positive impact on behalf of the vulnerable members of our community.”