Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Joe Krygiel, left, shares a laugh with some of his Catholic Charities Atlanta staff.


Colleagues Say Goodbye To Catholic Charities CEO

By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published March 14, 2013

SMYRNA—It was a bittersweet moment for friends and colleagues of Joe Krygiel, who recently stepped down as chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Atlanta after eight years at the helm. Many said their goodbyes and shared stories of Krygiel’s generosity as they wished him well in his retirement at a reception held at the archdiocesan Chancery on Feb. 19.

A large crowd gathered to enjoy food, fellowship and many highlights of Krygiel’s career with the Catholic Charities organization. Krygiel, a parishioner of St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, retired as CEO of the organization Dec. 31, 2012.

A former Naval Reserve officer and Delta Air Lines pilot, Krygiel 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. But it was the way that he treated employees and clients alike that affected those he met along the way.

“It’s an honor to be here to celebrate Joe and his contributions,” said Karen Cramer, director of quality improvement for Catholic Charities Atlanta. “He will be remembered for his compassion,” with both staff and clients.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was present and also spoke a few words to the crowd, saying that the archdiocese and the organization were blessed and honored to have Krygiel lead Catholic Charities for those eight years.

“We thank him for his service to this local Church as CEO of Catholic Charities, but … also in a very special way for all that he is to all of us: friend, colleague, source of inspiration, genuine good guy,” the archbishop said. “The wonderful outpouring of folks from the archdiocese who have made time in their schedule to be here is a great tribute to you and an expression of the affection and love and respect that we here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta have for you.”

Krygiel received gifts from the archbishop and his Catholic Charities family and was visibly touched as several people came forward to speak about his work and the legacy of compassion he will leave behind.

Joe Krygiel’s wife Pam joins him during his Feb. 19 retirement party at the Archdiocese of Atlanta Chancery. Photo By Michael Alexander

Jennifer Bensman, program director of Immigration Legal Services for Catholic Charities Atlanta, said there are so many stories of Krygiel’s compassion toward both his employees and clients. What touched Bensman the most was Krygiel’s enduring concern for the families of his employees. She was touched that whenever I saw him, inside or outside the office, the first thing Krygiel would do is ask about her family.

“That’s just the type of person he is,” she said. “He wanted to know how my family was because that’s what’s important to him. I really appreciated that.”

Others shared stories of Krygiel consistently stopping to help a new client or an employee, even after hours. His constant tending to the needs of others will be remembered for a long time, they said.

Scott Garrett, chair of the board of directors for Catholic Charities Atlanta, worked closely with Krygiel and recognized his ability to spread the mission of the organization to so many people.

“Joe’s greatest strength was his ability to reach out to so many people in the community,” said Garrett. “Catholic Charities has a bigger voice because of him. Other faith communities as well as our own became aware of who Catholic Charities is because of his outreach. Joe built the board as well through his constant networking in the community.

“Joe stabilized CCA in tough economic times through his deep faith and hard work,” he added. “We were all blessed to have had Joe for those eight years.”

Jinny Keough also worked with Krygiel on the Catholic Charities Atlanta board of directors and said his dedication to the work of CCA was inspiring.

“I’ve been on the CCA board for almost six years and have always been struck by Joe’s deep, spiritual commitment to CCA’s clients and mission,” she said. “He tirelessly promotes CCA throughout the archdiocese—in his prayer groups, religious and charitable fraternal organizations, and at social and sporting events—and on the national level through his tenure on the CCUSA board.”

“CCA will always have an advocate in Joe Krygiel, even in his retirement,” she added.

For Krygiel himself, it was a humbling way to say goodbye to Catholic Charities and to all the people and organizations with whom he has worked over the last several years.

“The gratitude I’ve gotten from the staff for the little times I’ve been able to help them and the clients has been overwhelming and I’m very blessed for that,” Krygiel said. “We have a lot to be thankful for at Catholic Charities. … I know the future for Catholic Charities is very bright.”

Krygiel was also quick to mention that he will still be around the archdiocese and plans to volunteer with various groups in the area.

“Thank you very much,” Krygiel told the crowd. “You’ll see us here and there … and if I can ever help you, please just let me know.”