Rob DeFrancesco, associate publisher of The Catholic Sun and director of communications for the Diocese of Phoenix, is pictured during the 2019 St. Francis de Sales Award presentation at the Catholic Media Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., June 21, 2019. DeFrancesco has been named the new executive director of the Catholic Media Association, effective Nov. 15, 2021. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CHICAGO (CNS) — Rob DeFrancesco, communications director for the Diocese of Phoenix, said he was “eager to work” with the staff of the Catholic Media Association as the Chicago-based organization’s new executive director.

“I attribute many of the blessings in my life to my involvement” with the CMA, he said Nov. 4, adding he is grateful “for this opportunity.”

Two days earlier, Amy Kawula, CMA’s president, announced DeFrancesco had been named to head the organization, effective Nov. 15. DeFrancesco succeeds Tim Walter, who is retiring after 13 years in the post.

Kawula said she was “beyond delighted to announce” that “a familiar face in the CMA” was chosen for the position after a six-month nationwide search.

DeFrancesco “has been a member for more than 20 years and served as president of the board” and “brings two decades of leadership and media experience” to his new job, added Kawula, who is the advertising and marketing manager of The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“Rob’s ability to quickly develop and maintain strong relationships with members, sponsors and other key leaders will be critical to the transition of this position,” she said, adding that “to ensure a smooth transition,” Walter will work with DeFrancesco on a part-time basis through Dec. 31.

DeFrancesco said he has worked with Walter on many committees and projects over the years and has had “a front-row seat to his collaborative style of leadership.”

“He made an optimal, positive difference in my life and in the lives of everyone in this association, and I am grateful to him. I know you will join me in congratulating and praying for him as he begins this new chapter of his life,” he added.

DeFrancesco started working for the Diocese of Phoenix in 2000 as the managing editor of The Catholic Sun, the diocesan newspaper. He became its editor in 2004, before becoming director of communications in 2010.

He also has served as associate publisher of the newspaper and its website and worked with the diocesan communications team across a variety of other platforms, including new media, television and radio.

As diocesan spokesman, he arranged and conducted news conferences, provided public relations counsel to staff and partner agencies, produced a weekly television show and two radio programs, and served as a clearinghouse for all media inquiries.

He also has served as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ communications committee.

He and his wife, Megan, have two sons and belong to St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Chandler, Arizona.

“More than 20 years ago, I was invited to attend my first Catholic Media Conference,” DeFrancesco said in a letter about his new position. “It was there in Dallas where I first encountered this dynamic and nurturing community of Catholic media pros — and I was so pleased to discover that there were people just like me who sought educational and networking opportunities.”

Years later, “I accepted another invitation to contribute to this community by serving on its board of directors and various committees,” he said.

“These invitations were significant moments in my professional development and faith life,” DeFrancesco said. “I was encouraged to be a better editor, teammate, leader, listener and, most importantly, Catholic. It’s been my goal to invite others to discover these same opportunities with the hope that they too could develop and sharpen their skills while building up good, lifelong relationships in service to the church.”

To the Catholic media, he said, “I am grateful to God for you and your important work. St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!”

St. Francis is the patron of Catholic journalists and writers.

The CMA — — has served the Catholic press for more than 100 years. Its membership includes over 200 publications, websites and social media outlets and 600 individuals.

The CMA provides a number of programs, including professional development through the annual Catholic Media Conference and webinars; networking opportunities both in person and through social channels; consultation services to analyze and improve procedures of member organizations; and award programs to acknowledge excellence in the field.

It also keeps members informed on best practices and First Amendment rights issues.