By ERIKA ANDERSON, Special To The Bulletin | Published January 3, 2013
When Archbishop John F. Donoghue asked Joe Krygiel to become the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Atlanta in 2004, Krygiel prayed for clarity.
While driving home, he passed a church with the words “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called” posted outside. It was literally the sign for which Krygiel had prayed.
“I knew then that I had to just step out in faith and trust that God knew what was best for me,” he said.
Krygiel retired as chief executive officer of the organization Dec. 31, 2012. The active parishioner of St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, says he is just moving on to the next stage in his life—wherever God may be calling him.
As a highly accomplished Naval Reserve officer and Delta Air Lines captain, Krygiel brought management and leadership experience to Catholic Charities Atlanta. He was responsible for the strategic day-to-day leadership of the agency, including agency and program development, strategic planning, financial oversight, public relations, fundraising and development, and quality service delivery.
“I am very grateful to God that I was able to serve in this position for the past eight years. It has been the best career of my life. I was very blessed and honored that Archbishop Donoghue selected me to head Catholic Charities Atlanta in 2004 and also thankful to Archbishop (Wilton D.) Gregory that I was able to continue to serve the archdiocese when he became our archbishop in 2005,” he said. “I am very proud of our collective agency accomplishments during my tenure as CEO.”
Among the initiatives was the creation of a marketing and development department in the agency that now raises $2.2 million annually for Catholic Charities Atlanta, up from $200,000 in 2004.
“I think the greatest thing I brought to Catholic Charities was my ability to interact with people and share our mission with others in many areas—the parish, the community and in collaboration with other agencies,” Krygiel said.
One of his proudest achievements was his appointment to the national board of trustees for Catholic Charities USA.
“I had only been on the job two years when I was asked to serve on the national board of directors,” he said. “In the past five years I’ve been on the board, it’s advanced our mission here in Atlanta and our reputation as one of the best Catholic Charities in the U.S.”
Pat Chivers, archdiocesan communications director, said, “I am very grateful for Joe’s leadership locally since 2004 and for his service as a member of the board of trustees of Catholic Charities USA for the past five years. With Joe’s leadership, the agency has achieved many significant accomplishments. Catholic Charities Atlanta’s service to the poor, vulnerable, and needy has often been recognized by our local church, community, and nationally by Catholic Charities USA.”
In 2005, Krygiel and the Catholic Charities staff experienced what he called a “seminal moment that turned our organization around,” when the agency became a leader in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as people forced to relocate urgently looked for extensive support in the Atlanta metro area.
“People looked to us as the people in charge,” he said. “They trusted us. It really changed things for us.”
The agency is widely recognized as a social service leader in the Atlanta nonprofit community in a number of areas, including immigration legal services. Its programs also include refugee resettlement and clinical services, such as mental health counseling and crisis pregnancy counseling. The agency’s family stabilization program has one of the top housing counseling services in metro Atlanta for those caught up in the housing crisis, Krygiel said.
“When I take credit for things, I take credit collectively,” he said. “I think one of my greatest strengths is delegating and allowing people the responsibility to do their jobs. I learned from great leaders that a great leader should never feel threatened by intelligent people who work for them.”
Krygiel said he plans to “take some down time to pray and discern” what God wants for his life.
“I hope when people look back at my time as CEO, they say that I was a faith-filled person who tried to help wherever there was a need and respond as Jesus would.”
Chivers praised Krygiel’s personal commitment to his faith and his service to the community. She said, “Joe is a compassionate man devoted to our Blessed Mother Mary and to serving those in need. He made annual pilgrimages to Lourdes to provide assistance to those with difficulty traveling to seek healing at the grotto where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette.
She added, “Joe is also devoted to his wife, Pam, and to his children. He has faithfully served our community and will be dearly missed.”
Chief Operations Officer Joseph Galvin assumed duties as CEO beginning Jan. 1. Archbishop Wilton Gregory has indicated that a national search for Krygiel’s successor is underway.
In a statement, the archbishop said, “As Joe Krygiel begins his retirement, I want to express my personal and sincere gratitude for his devoted service to the works of charity here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He helped to bring our ministry under the umbrella of Catholic Charities USA and his profound dedication to the care of those in need will last as a legacy of great tribute to a man of deep compassion and faith. God bless, Joe!”