ST. FRANCIS — Hannah C. Dugan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee since January 2007, submitted her resignation effective Dec. 10.

Jim Brennan, deputy director for the agency, will temporarily fulfill Dugan’s responsibilities until the board of trustees can find a successor.

“This will allow our board to make a search for a new executive director of Catholic Charities, and to reflect on the sort of executive director they would like to move Catholic Charities forward,” Brennan said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald.

Brennan has been with the agency for nearly three years, first serving as the director of Family and Children’s Ministries. In September 2008, he was named deputy director. He assured that Dugan’s determined work for the disadvantaged will continue.

“First of all, our staff this past year and for the past couple of years has refocused its work on the poor,” he said. “That focus will continue.”

Dugan is a former Legal Aid Society attorney and vice-chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Ethics Board.

Anne Marie Wick, president of the Catholic Charities board, told your Catholic Herald that she and another board member had asked to meet with Dugan on Dec. 10 but not about Dugan’s role with the agency.

“Hannah communicated to us that she had prayed about this,” Wick said. “She tendered her resignation.”

Wick praised Dugan’s work with the agency, noting that during difficult economic times she had not only continued the work of Catholic Charities but had “expanded our services.”

“She has done so much for the agency,” Wick said.

Catholic Charities is the human services provider for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that provides services and education to thousands of persons annually throughout the 10 counties of southeast Wisconsin, without regard to religion, ethnic, racial or economic background, according to its mission statement.

In addition to adult care services and family and children’s ministries, the organization is involved with social justice ministries such as consultation and education programs, parish collaboration and social worker outreach, to name just a few.

“There will be some new programming coming in 2010, but again, the primary focus of Catholic Charities will be on the marginalized for people without choices, disadvantaged, and we’ve worked very hard on that mission in the last few years and will continue to do so,” Brennan said.

He noted that the transition to being interim executive director will be smooth because he had worked closely with Dugan.

“Not only were our offices next door, but we did work on a lot of projects together and were fairly successful together,” he added.

Brennan’s first task is to assess the situation and make sure the staff knows that things will continue to run smoothly.

“I haven’t seen anxiety here at central office, but I’m sure the staff wants to know that we are moving ahead, (and that) they’re in good hands,” he said. “I want to be proactive, frankly, and that’s why I’m out and about.

“This is the transition that will allow us to focus on our mission at Catholic Charities, and focus on our work to the clients being served by Catholic Charities. The rest will be handled very well,” he added.

Wick said that while the board would be working to fill the executive director position in a “timely” manner, “Catholic Charities will continue our services effectively.”

Contributing to this story was Brian T. Olszewski