Prayer fuels McConnaha’s ‘purposeful approach’

2020 Faith That Works award recipient

MANITOWOC — Scott McConnaha feels blessed that he can combine his career with the religious calling that has influenced much of his life.

Scott McConnaha has worked for Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries Inc. since 2008. He finds fulfillment in helping to “shape organizations” to give employees a chance to live out their vocations. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

“I’ve always tried to find a way that I can pair my vocation with what I do for a living,” said McConnaha, president and CEO of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries (FSCCM) Inc. “I feel I can bring to life the sense of calling through the work I do for the Sponsored Ministries. I feel confident that this is where God wants me to be in my life.”

Sr. Kay Klackner, vice president of mission for the FSCCM, praised McConnaha’s management style.

“Among the leadership qualities that Scott possesses are gentleness, kindness, decisiveness, creative thinking, prayerfulness, and good intuition. He does not step back from a crisis but works collaboratively with others to have the best results, upholding the dignity of those involved. Decisions are made with thoughtful pause, prayer, and collaboration,” she said.

“I try to begin each day with a bit of prayerful silence before anyone else in the house wakes up. On the days that I do that, I feel that I have a more purposeful approach to my work,” said McConnaha, who lives in Plymouth with his wife, Colleen. They have four children: Maggie, Ian, Eddie, and Molly.

McConnaha holds master’s degrees in English (University of Missouri-St. Louis) and theology (St. Louis University) and an MBA (University of Scranton).

He has been with the Manitowoc, Wisconsin-based FSCCM since 2008, first as director of corporate relations and then as vice president of mission and strategy. He reports to the FSCC Sponsored Ministry Board of Trustees and the General Administration of the FSCC.

The “system office,” as it is commonly called, serves five health institutions in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Nebraska, and one educational ministry, Holy Family College in Manitowoc. The office oversees and guides the institutions in managing change, ensuring stewardship of resources, and integrating mission and values.

Not only do these institutions help people in their communities, including those in financial need, they also employ thousands of people, McConnaha said.

“One thing I find fulfilling in my work is being able to help shape organizations — like our hospitals, nursing homes and our college — that give people who come to work for us a chance to live out their vocations. I’ve latched on to that as my role as CEO of this system,” he said. “I feel personally fulfilled that we are able to offer opportunities to people who are seeking a sense of purpose in what they do for a living.”

Sr. Kay described the positive atmosphere that McConnaha nurtures in the workplace.

“Scott mentors others well and is always willing to listen to the suggestions of others. He finds the best in others,” she said. “Scott’s perspective is always one of relationship and service, not ‘boss.’ Maintaining a balance of faith and corporate life is not easy in the chaotic, quickly changing, and polarity of the health care and education environments. Scott keeps current and focused on purpose.”

McConnaha’s workplace leadership is based on relationships, beginning with his relationship with Jesus Christ, Sr. Kay explained.

He works “to build relationships with more than CEOs in order to best work for our organizations,” she said. “In the system office, Scott trusts each person to do their best in their areas of responsibility and offers support and help when asked. He also offers a sense of lightheartedness and humor. The Catholic Social Teachings are prominent in the work Scott leads. The principles serve as a basis for the assessment of the mission and Catholic identity in each of our organizations. Though not all our colleagues are Catholic, each is respected with dignity and moved toward understanding the importance of Catholic identity in each organization.”

The McConnahas are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Plymouth.

“Being active members of the parish has been important to my wife and me,” said McConnaha. “My wife is a faith formation teacher and I am a lector in our parish.”

The couple also made it a point to send their children through the parish school during their elementary and middle school years, and McConnaha enjoyed being involved with their activities, such as basketball tournaments.

He belongs to the Catholic Health Association and has served on several committees related to health issues and the creation of materials for health care organizations.

From 2002 to 2008, he was employed at the St. Louis-based Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), first as a communications manager in the mission and ethics department and then as editor of CHA’s official journal Health Progress.

McConnaha also has worked as a journalist for the Milwaukee Archdiocese newspaper. He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and a veteran of the U.S. Army.