Director oversees properties
Degrees in law and accounting will be used for the diocese and in helping the parishes
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Despite the portrayal on television shows and movies, "lawyers are not always going to court," said Debra Holewinski, the new diocesan director of facilities and properties.
"A lot of the job is looking at contracts and reviewing documents," she said. "A lawyer is often called a counselor. You do counsel. You have to bring two parties together."
In her new position, Holewinski, an attorney and certified public accountant, is responsible for all existing diocesan properties and will work with parishes on property and
building projects. She will also oversee insurance programs for the diocese and assist with governmental relations. Holewinski, a graduate of UW-Green Bay and the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, sees similarities when comparing her new position to her legal and financial background. Following college, she worked for Arthur Anderson for a year before taking a position with a law firm, Schober & Ulatowski SC, in Green Bay.
"At Arthur Anderson, the focus was on accounting," she said. "I wanted to work more with legal drafting and documents. At the firm, I did business law, setting up partnerships and corporations, mergers and acquisitions. I worked with real estate, commercial and residential buying and selling. I also did estate planning. I like to say that I stayed away from the messy stuff - litigation, criminal law and divorce. When you work for a law firm, you see so many things. You deal with whatever comes through the door. Every day, every hour, you see something different. I believe that wide breadth of experience will be helpful in this position."
Getting to know the diocese and the people of the diocese will be both challenging and rewarding, said Holewinski, who previously worked as assistant general counsel at American Medical Security.
"It's a different environment than an office," she said. "You don't see people on a day-to-day basis. You may go five to six months between seeing someone. The challenge will be building trust and getting to know individuals so I am able to work through what they need for their building projects. I like meeting new people. Everyone always has something to offer. I look forward to getting to know where they've been, what they've been doing and who they are."
In her spare time, Holewinski, a Pulaski native, enjoys working out, reading and spending time with her family.
"I grew up on a dairy farm," she said. "My poor Dad, he had three daughters. Both my sisters have kids and live nearby. I like spending time with my niece and two nephews. I feel very fortunate to be so close to my family."
While she will apply many of her skills as an attorney in her new position, Holewinski is glad that practicing law is behind her.
"The reward in this position comes from knowing that you're on the right side," she said. "There are two sides to every story. As a lawyer, you're not sure you're always on the right side. You may be legally right, but you are not sure if you're always ethically or morally right. There is satisfaction here knowing that you're doing something good for someone else."