WASHINGTON -- Richard Doerflinger will retire as associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, April 29, after 36 years of service to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). After a nationwide search, Greg Schleppenbach, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, has been hired as new associate director of Pro-Life Activities.
Schleppenbach comes to the USCCB after more than 25 years of service to the Nebraska Catholic Conference. As the state conference's pro-life director, he engaged in extensive speaking, writing and lobbying on a wide range of matters, especially abortion, stem cell research and end-of-life issues. As executive director, he was in charge of the overall operation of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, overseeing public policy lobbying activities and educating Catholics on important public policy matters in relation to Church teaching. He is known for his skill in coalition-building and is well respected by diocesan pro-life directors and state Catholic conference directors.
Schleppenbach and his wife, Jacqueline, have been married for two years and have both been very involved in pro-life work and service to the Church. Schleppenbach begins his full-time service at the USCCB on May 16.
"Greg Schleppenbach has been a respected friend and colleague for many years," said Doerflinger. "He thoroughly understands the Church's pro-life witness, and has always found new ways to bring people together in support of life. I will keep working on these issues in retirement, but am delighted to leave this particular job in very capable hands."
Doerflinger (left) joined the Conference in 1980 and has served as legislative assistant, assistant director, associate director for policy development, and, since 2008, as overall associate director of the Pro-Life Activities. Throughout the Church and public policy circles, Doerflinger is known for his expertise in monitoring and responding to federal legislation; advising and assisting state legislative efforts; coordinating the U.S. bishops' efforts on health care conscience rights, physician-assisted suicide, human cloning, stem cell research and other challenges in bioethics; and conducting media outreach and interviews. He researched and drafted policy statements, letters and testimony on abortion and many other life issues, and helped guide the activities of the Secretariat. Through his service on the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life since 2011, his work is also known internationally.
Doerflinger has received awards for his pro-life work, including the University of Notre Dame's inaugural Evangelium Vitae medal in 2011. He also serves as a public policy fellow at the university's Center for Ethics and Culture and at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Doerflinger and his wife, Lee Ann, have been married for 38 years and have long been involved in pro-life and Natural Family Planning work. They have raised four children and have one granddaughter.
"It's humbling to succeed a pro-life giant like Richard Doerflinger," Schleppenbach said. "But I come to this position with confidence in God's amazing grace and a heart filled with passion for His precious gift of human life. I am grateful for the honor of serving the bishops of Nebraska for so many years and am equally grateful for this opportunity to now serve the bishops of the United States."