Readinger to retire in 2022; CHHSM Board to begin search in September
Michael J. Readinger, president and CEO of the United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries, has announced that he will retire in April 2022. The CHHSM Board of Directors has retained the services of the Equius Group in order to conduct a thorough and diverse search for the position.
“I cannot express how much we will miss Mike’s presence in CHHSM,” said CHHSM Board Chair Abby Drane. She is president and CEO of Bellewood and Brooklawn/Seven Counties Services in Louisville, Ky. “We have been so fortunate to have been under his extraordinary leadership these past seven years. Most importantly, he has given us plenty of notice as we seek to fill this position for CHHSM.”
Readinger took the helm of CHHSM in 2014, succeeding the Rev. Bryan Sickbert. CHHSM is comprised of 70 organizations and agencies that operate more than 400 programs and communities across the United States, including children, youth, and family agencies; older adult services and residential communities; hospitals and foundations; affordable housing complexes; and services to persons with disabilities.
Early in his leadership of CHHSM, Readinger led the transformation of CHHSM’s direction, working with board members and staff to introduce a set of value propositions and new mission, vision and value statements to direct its work. This included developing the language and direction around CHHSM’s work to create a just, caring and compassionate world.
Readinger also has been instrumental in CHHSM’s emphasis on advocacy in health and human service ministries, and the importance of advocating for CHHSM member organizations nationally and locally, as well as for the work of agency employees.
Most recently, this advocacy has related to CHHSM’s work on identifying and working against systemic racism. In 2020, the CHHSM Board released a statement on the pandemic of systemic racism that included a five-point commitment of action. CHHSM followed that up with a resolution with the UCC’s Council for Racial and Ethnic Ministries to the denomination’s biennial General Synod in July 2021 that declared racism a public health crisis. The organization recently released its “Reason to Have Hope: A Public Health Response to Racism” curriculum, which can be adapted for use by local churches and other groups.
In the past year, Readinger and the CHHSM board also retained the Equius Group to conduct a race, diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment of the organization, and are using the final report’s recommendations to inform CHHSM’s future work.
But perhaps most valued by CHHSM members has been Readinger’s work to improve CHHSM’s visibility and increase partnerships among UCC and other denominations, and to help CHHSM members realize the importance of partnering with each other in exchanging ideas and programming.
“Mike Readinger has brought the right combination of continuity and innovation energy to his role as president and CEO of CHHSM,” said the Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president. “He has brought renewed value to programs for leadership development, antiracism work and inter-agency collaboration among members. I think I will value Mike’s work most as a compelling and ardent spokesperson for the common mission of our members. Mike has been ‘all in’ on every member agency’s work: every leader, every staff member, and every client and resident served.”
The Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes, who chaired the search committee that hired Readinger, expressed similar thoughts. “Of the many things Mike has done so well, the one I most appreciate is what he did to build a deep sense of covenant partnership with so many of the CHHSM agencies,” Daniel said. “Mike has always taken that seriously. Through the years, he has built relationships of trust and deep respect with covenant partners. He has made deeper connections at every level of this denomination.”
Readinger has “helped both new generations of leaders in our local churches and the wider church understand how vital our CHHSM agencies are to the mission of the church,” Daniel continued. “At the same time he has helped the mission partners in CHHSM understand how important strong bonds of trust are with local churches, conferences, and the national setting of the United Church of Christ.”
Prior to becoming president and CEO, Readinger served as vice president from 2005 to 2014. He came to CHHSM from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Cleveland, where he was an associate vice president and financial advisor for 12 years. He also has been involved in several entrepreneurial endeavors in the restaurant and club industry, specializing in management accounting systems.
Committed to service
Readinger serves on the UCC Board of Directors and the National Benevolent Association Board of Trustees of the UCC’s ecumenical partner, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Readinger previously served as moderator of Amistad Chapel UCC in downtown Cleveland and as board chair of United Church Funds, the Cleveland Synergy Foundation, and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.
The position description for a new president and CEO will be posted by the end of August, said Alicia A. Love, project director and consultant for the Equius Group. “As part of CHHSM’s commitment to RDEI, the goal is to ensure that we are reaching a broad audience with the posting to generate a diverse — specifically racially diverse — applicant pool, and we will take the time to do it right,” she said.
The intent is to solicit applicants in September and undertake the selection process in October and November of this year.
“The CHHSM Board has been working for the past few months to revise and update the job description and has given much thought to seeking the right leaders as we head toward 2030,” Drane said. “With your prayers, our passion and God’s presence, I’m sure we will find the next great president and CEO for CHHSM.”
Michelle Just, CHHSM board vice chair and president and CEO of Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, concurred. “Michael has been a passionate advocate for CHHSM member ministries, and an authentic leader with the Board of Directors and his team since taking the helm in 2014,” she said. “He leaves a healthy legacy for CHHSM, which is great for the next CEO. We are in a good position to move forward very successfully because of that.”
Barb Powell is the communication consultant for the Council for Health and Human Services Ministries.
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