Joliet bishop names director for the diocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection

Ronald A. Hicks, Bishop for the Diocese of Joliet, announced the appointment of Leah McCluskey Heffernan as the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Joliet.

The appointment is effective Dec. 1.

Heffernan joins from the Archdiocese of Chicago where she was the director of the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review in the Archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth.

As director, Heffernan will supervise the diocesan victim assistance coordinator and ensure all incoming allegations of sexual abuse of minors by church employees or volunteers are properly received and handled according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and state laws.

In addition, she will serve as staff to the Diocesan Review Committee.

Heffernan joined the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2002 where she received allegations, interviewed victim-survivors and interacted with civil authorities. She conducted investigation of allegations and served as the staff liaison to the Archdiocese Independent Review Board.

Prior to joining the Archdiocese of Chicago, Heffernan was as a clinical therapist at the Center for Contextual Change in Skokie. She served as a child welfare specialist at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and as a child care supervisor at Hephzibah Children's Association in Oak Park.

A native of Oak Park, Heffernan is licensed social worker in Illinois. She holds a master’s in nonprofit administration from North Park University, a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Illinois State University. She is a member of the Lake County Sexual Assault Coordinating Council.