The Independent Review Board (IRB) was formed within the Archdiocese more than 20 years ago. It is an essential group of primarily lay volunteers charged with providing critical advice to the Archbishop on all matters related to clergy sexual abuse and misconduct.

The Board is scheduled to meet on a monthly basis to review and discuss clergy abuse allegations and concerns that may have been reported regarding boundary violations.  

Continued IRB evolution and growth has been spurred by learning from survivors. The Board aims to have at least one survivor member, while always soliciting feedback and input from other known survivors. In terms of additional membership expertise, the Archdiocese strives to have a variety of perspectives drawn from the field of child abuse prevention and response. Currently included are professionals from mental health treatment, law enforcement, parenting, ministerial vocations, and education.

Most recent shifts include:

  • Restorative Principles — Previously basing its process on a quasi-judicial system, the IRB now works within the framework of restorative principles to better work in alignment with the Office for Protection and Care ministry. Restorative principles are a different approach to harm.  Victim/Survivor-centered, these principles identify needs of the survivor and the obligation of the Church to work to meet those needs.  Members on the board are familiar with and utilize restorative principles in their work and are ready to be included in any beneficial restorative dialogues with survivors.
  • Membership Transparency — Once a private board where members were only known to leadership, membership of the board is now public information.
  • Expertise — In addition to the topical expertise that has always provided opinion, an effort is also made to recruit members who have a vested interest in how this topic has impacted the Catholic Church and are passionate in advocating for renewal.
  • HRO Principles — The safety of our children and the vulnerable is our utmost priority. For this reason, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has promoted and offered training on High Reliability Organization (HRO) principles. These are the principles followed by organizations viewed as having high levels of safety, quality, and efficiency. IRB members are trained in using these principles when offering advice and recommendations.

NOTE: Survivors’ identities are not shared unless they grant permission, as their right to privacy is of the utmost importance.

Bob Plant

IRB Chair
Retired FBI Agent

Kelly Ryan, esq.

IRB Deputy Chair
Johnson County, KS District Court Judge

Suzanne Fitzmaurice, OSB

Former educator with at-risk youth

Nancy Hoey, MEd, LPC

Counselor specializing in trauma

Shelly Hoog

Small business owner
Former educator

Kathy O’Hara, PhD

Former Archdiocese Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Rev. Scott Wallisch

Archdiocese Director of Seminarians St. Joseph Parish (Shawnee) Pastor

To learn more about the IRB or if you are interested in joining the board, please contact:

Jenifer Valenti
913-602-7717 (mobile)