With Wisdom and Goodness: Kevin Deary Takes on New Role with Community Foundation to Build Stronger Nonprofits

Kevin Deary started in a new role at the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. As the retired president/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, he’s no stranger, but now he’s on our team. Here’s a bit more about Kevin and his new role:

What does the Director of Professional and Organizational Development at the Community Foundation do? How do you see that role?

First and foremost, I oversee The Learning Center (TLC), the Community Foundation’s program to support and train nonprofit leaders, employees, and board members. Professional development is critical to the successful running of a nonprofit, particularly when it’s purpose-driven and mission-based. Making sure that we’re building sustainability capacity for nonprofits, and also with some people, the people get better as the organization gets better. I think the fact that professional development and organizational development are together, go hand in hand with successful nonprofits and so I have an opportunity to be able to help an organization through consultation and through some executive coaching, but also be able to move them towards TLC to make sure they get some really important training that helps them immediately.

This is a little bit of a silly question because I know that you’re eminently qualified, but what qualifies you to do this?

Let’s start with 40 years of nonprofit work. I’m a late learner and I got a lot of my degrees later in life. I don’t normally point to my academics but they were a big part of refining me in the nonprofit executive world. I’m still driven by nonprofits personally and professionally. Going to work on the for-profit side doesn’t interest me. But helping people in organizations is something I have done as an executive coach and as a consultant. And then as a practitioner, I worked through Boys and Girls Clubs and brought it from a very small budget of $93,000 to about $7.5 million and ran seven capital campaigns. As I grew, the Boys and Girls Clubs grew.

As you retired from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, people talked about how you pour goodness and wisdom into other people. You’ve done that as a CEO, but now in this role, is that the essence of the job description?

It is. I hope I have enough. I hope I have enough to pour in. There are a lot more vessels here. I’m excited about that. By filling somebody else’s vessel, it also fills mine. I think that the energy and the passion are there, in making sure that we build trust between the Community Foundation and each of its very important missions is critical.

There’s a TV character that you’ve invoked as kind of your model or how you describe yourself in this role. Can you say more about that?

It’s Father Mulcahy from “MASH”, my favorite character in the “MASH” TV series. I really loved him because of his strong hand on the rudder, because he’s not only his spiritual strength but his ability to do any job at any time. The fact that he could be tough when he needed to be tough. The fact that he was an Irish Catholic boxer and so am I. I love that role where he can provide comfort, and yet discipline. There’s a reason why his tent was almost at the center of the camp: because everybody knew where to get to him. He was available 24/7. And I just thought that was a remarkable mission. And that his impact on the MASH craziness world was tremendous. And I think that’s what I want to reflect (though maybe not 24/7).

How excited are you to be doing this?

I’m very excited. It’s a rebirth. It’s a renewal. I feel really good. I’m very proud of the work I did. Right. I will always love what I did at Boys and Girls Clubs and that mission. I love the Boys & Girls Clubs and I love Elkhart County. I had an opportunity to leave to go work for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and I came to the realization I love this county and its people more than I love Boys and Girls Clubs. So I’m staying here.

— By Marshall V. King