From strength to strength: Diocesan CFO Don Wagner retires, and Stephen Becht returns to diocese for CFO/COO role

North Texas Catholic
(Jun 26, 2023) Local

a smiling Don Wagner stands outside a Catholic Center hall

Don Wagner, chief financial officer for the Diocese of Fort Worth, is seen outside the Catholic Center on May 11, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH - When Don Wagner retires on June 30 as the chief financial officer of the Diocese of Fort Worth, it doesn’t mean he is going to stop his life of service or just ride off into the beautiful North Texas sunset.

“I want to serve others in a variety of volunteer capacities, whether it be working with youth, adults, or organizations that focus on helping those most in need, such as veterans,” Wagner said. “I look forward to more time in nature, sports, hobbies such as photography, and travel.” 

Wagner has been the diocese’s CFO since 2017. On July 1, Stephen Becht will take those duties in addition to assuming the role of chief operating officer. Becht had been director of real estate and construction for the diocese and a consultant to the diocese.

Wagner said his role as CFO was gratifying and he has many people to thank for their help.

“I’ve really enjoyed the variety of work and the unique challenges that I’ve experienced day in and day out; it has kept the position exciting and anything but routine.

Being able to serve Bishop Michael Olson, to implement his vision, and to help our pastors in strategic financial matters has been exciting and fulfilling to me,” he said.

The end of the diocesan fiscal year in June makes a natural transition time, Wagner said.

“From a work perspective, we are in a sound financial position as a diocese, and internally, my staff is incredible and well-positioned to continue to move us forward,” Wagner said.

Wagner said that while the diocese is in good shape, it still faces plenty of challenges for leadership to address.

“The continued explosive population growth in the diocese has created the need for new parishes and schools. The challenge is how to accomplish that in a fiscally responsible manner,” Wagner said.

He said the other major challenge is familiar to all.

“The other challenge is what everyone else is facing; that it just costs more now, and will continue to cost more in the future, to run the business operations in the Catholic Center and our parishes and schools,” Wagner said. “No one is immune from the current economic environment. We will need to look internally at how we can best provide the support that is needed while our parishes and schools will need to look at how they can best provide for parish and school life within their means.”

Wagner said his accomplishments during his tenure will benefit the diocese.

“We are financially stronger as a diocese than we have ever been and have not leveraged ourselves in order to accomplish this. We have funded over $50 million in construction projects utilizing our diocesan parish and school savings pool, with an additional $25 million scheduled in the coming year,” he said. 

Wagner said the Central Office controllership and financial reporting is at the highest level of excellence it has ever been and represents the priority that the diocese places “on financial ethics, integrity, and principles in our work.” 

He said the diocese’s strategic planning paid off during the pandemic because no staff was laid off or given pay cuts as other dioceses were forced to do.

Before he became CFO, Wagner worked in leadership at the parish level as business manager at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller and before that, he was business manager at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Arlington.

Working at the parish level was gratifying to Wagner because he could immediately see the results of efforts at the grassroots level.

“Parish life is an incredible experience; it’s the heartbeat of the diocese and where the action is,” Wagner said. “Each parish has its own identity, and you become immersed in it with a sense of purpose to serve families to bring them closer together as an organization and to God. In a parish the results are tangible; you see the immediate impact of your decisions and actions.”

And like the diocese itself, parishes must deal with the current economic times to serve their parishioners.

“I encourage parishes to continue to focus on re-establishing family life activities that dropped off in the pandemic and set realistic budgets,” Wagner said. 

Prior to his work with the church, Wagner worked for a company called Rollins that he said helped set a foundation for his professional life.

“With Rollins I was able to transition from a military environment and grow into corporate business operations that included new business startups, sales, service, and management,” Wagner said. “As my career has advanced, the experience that I learned from sales management helped me successfully plan and run capital campaigns in both parishes.”

He said his business relationships from CEOs to small business owners helped him while he was in the parishes and as diocesan CFO.

Stephen Brecht calmly crosses his arms in this portrait shot
Stephen Becht returns to the diocese to take on the role of CFO/COO.(NTC 2017 file photo/Juan Guajardo)

Becht was director of real estate, construction, property management, and security for the diocese from June 2017 through June 2021. Since then, he continued to advise the diocese on major real estate and construction projects.

He returns to the diocese full time after two years as vice president of capital investments and project management for the industrial conglomerate Marmon Holdings, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Becht has worked as a senior corporate strategist, management advisor, corporate executive, entrepreneur, and attorney. He has extensive in-house experience in corporate C-suites, operations, and leadership roles at three Fortune 500 companies: Marmon Holdings, RCA/Thomson Consumer Electronics, and The Mead Corporation.  

He also founded and owned the corporate real estate, business location, facilities, and construction advisory firm Becht Companies, Inc. for 20 years. Becht Companies provided management and legal services to corporate and operation teams.  

A graduate of the University of Dayton with a BSCE in civil / structural engineering, he received his juris doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law. Becht also attended the graduate schools of business administration at Texas A&M University and the University of Dayton. 

He is a registered professional engineer, an SIOR real estate broker, an attorney, and a certified commercial investment member. 

Don Wagner, Retirement, Catholic Faith, Diocese of Fort Worth, Stephen Becht, CFO/COO role, Diocesan CFO, Bishop Michael Olson, trending-english