Catholic Charities hires new director of development, outreach

This story originally appeared in the Jefferson City News Tribune. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ONLINE: News Tribune Website

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri has hired Cristal Backer to serve as its new director of development and outreach.

Her primary responsibilities will include overseeing development and communication efforts to support the organization’s work of “providing care and creating hope.”

“I saw this opportunity and am very happy to come on board and help share this mission,” Backer said. “Catholic Charities is good about serving all age groups, all people, in our 38-county region.”

Backer has served a number of nonprofits over the past 10 years, she said. Most recently, she was a regional coordinator for the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

A Cathedral of St. Joseph parishioner, Backer said she values her connection to the faith community. She is also an advisory board member for St. Joseph Cathedral School, which her children attend.

Backer said she arrived at the end of March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to really take hold in Missouri, and shortly before the state quarantine orders occurred.

“I’ve been working behind the scenes, acclimating myself with the organization,” Backer said. “I’m excited to have things reopen s0 we can have more face-to-face interactions (with social distancing).”

It’s a special time to be working with an organization that’s already serving the people in the community who are most in need.

Much like one held early in the pandemic, Catholic Charities, the United Way of Central Missouri, the Food Bank and Aging Best are planning another food drive for seniors to be held sometime before the end of May, Backer said.

Catholic Charities also started distributing food boxes from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in May. The program is intended to improve the health of low-income people who are 60 and older. To learn more or apply for the program, visit or call 573-635-7719.

Catholic Charities is also preparing to start renovations of the Shikles Auditorium, which it bought in January.

The building will act as a food pantry, clinic, disaster relief center, counseling center for housing and community hub.

It’s a special time to be involved with the work of Catholic Charities, as the organization renovates the auditorium and prepares for the future, Backer said.

Backer will help with the “critical efforts” to serve people through her understanding of God’s intentions for people to be stewards of the gifts God has given them, said Dan Lester, Catholic Charities executive director.

“We are glad to have Cristal join our staff to assist in our work to provide compassionate care for those most vulnerable in our region,” he said.