Lauren E. Solidum - President and CEO, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas
Describe your responsibilities and how long you’ve been at the Archdiocese.
I have been a part of this Archdiocese since taking on the role of President and CEO for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas in August 2018. I have a Bachelor degree in Anthropology/Sociology and certificates in project management and workforce development. Prior to becoming a parishioner at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kansas, my family and I lived in Liberty, Missouri, and had been active members of St. James Catholic Church. As President and CEO, it is my responsibility, in partnership with our Board of Directors, to provide the overall vision for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, in alignment with our mission and values. I oversee the day-to-day operations of our 24 programs that range from the beginning of life (adoption) to life’s end (hospice). In addition, I am responsible for building relationships in the community and mobilizing others to engage with our organization.
Why did/do you feel called to work here? What do you love most about what you do? How does the Archbishop and other clergy leadership rely on your advice and decision-making?
I grew up in a devout Catholic family in St. Louis, Missouri. My parents and grandparents instilled the faith and importance of serving others in me and my two sisters. We were very involved in our parish. We volunteered to serve meals, led the rosary at our local senior living communities, and served as Eucharistic Ministers. Throughout my career, I have relied on prayer to determine my path. My experiences over the last 10 years in for-purpose organizational operations prepared me for this leadership role with Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. I was not actively job searching when the CEO position was posted. Heavily rooted in my Catholic faith, I felt compelled to apply for it. The more I thought about the impact this organization was making in helping individuals and families achieve sustainability, the more I knew I wanted to part of it. I recognized the rare opportunity to pair my profession with my Catholic faith – a true vocation. I love that I am part of an organization led by a purpose, one that delivers meaningful impact to people of all faiths throughout the Archdiocese’s 21 counties. I am blessed to expose the greatness of our Church through service. There is no better way to understand Christ’s love for us than being the hands and feet to His people. Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas is the charitable arm of the Archdiocese.
Archbishop Naumann relies on us to broaden the scope of opportunities for lay people within the parishes. By engaging with us, they can fulfill the Corporal Works of Mercy and be the hands and feet of Christ. We are also a trusted resource for the clergy, who are often approached by individuals and families in need of food, shelter, financial assistance and more. We provide relief for the parishes that do not have the means or expertise in these areas. Instead, they can refer to one of our Emergency Assistance Centers or our administrative office, and our qualified staff will provide the necessary guidance and assistance. In my role, I am in a position to receive important feedback from those we serve, volunteers, donors and community partners. As I identify certain trends, I share that information with the Archbishop so that he is aware and we can take steps to address any issues. In addition, I serve on the Archdiocesan Administrative Team, where the Archbishop, clergy and others value my input as we actively participate in a broad range of timely discussions from policy to staff to services that affect the entire Archdiocese.