Leadership Emerges here at Neighborhood Ministries
The calling and appointment of Jeremy Wood as the new Executive Director
We are proud to announce the appointment of Jeremy Wood as the new Executive Director of Neighborhood Ministries (NM). For the last three years, beginning with my sabbatical in early 2012, many deliberations have occurred to plan and sustain the future of the organization including clear vision and leadership. With 30 years under our belt, it was imperative that we take some time to pray and seek God’s direction for the next 30 years because, YES!, we will still be here in 30 years. During strategic planning and evaluation sessions of all our programs, seeking the communities’ input as well, was when Jeremy’s natural talents and leadership began to shine even more.
One of NM’s core values is Leadership Development. We intentionally invest in the youth among us, desiring them to take on critical and exciting elements of the mission and carry them forward. Thirteen years ago, Jeremy began as one of these young leaders, applying as a summer intern from one of our long-standing partner churches. Like many before and after him, he stayed. He finished college and began a two-year internship as a small group supervisor in our mentoring department. That summer, he not only built relationships among our youth, but quickly fell in love with a fellow summer intern, Jessica. They married and moved into a transitional neighborhood nearby and began the physical, emotional and spiritual steps of living the mission.
A key step for Jeremy was mentoring Damian, a 10 year old boy, the oldest of 12 siblings. Jeremy’s love and determination was demonstrated through his constant search for him. Damian’s family moved frequently. Normally, picking Damian up would include at least three of his siblings as well; he could not neglect the needs of those he saw! Years of love and time, heartaches and rescuing, fixing and walking away took place within this family. In 2007, Damian and his siblings were removed from their mom, and ultimately Jeremy and Jessica would adopt one of the three sisters who always jumped into Jeremy’s truck because she had long been mentored by Jessica as well.
Jeremy grew here with a desire to grasp theology, to get a handle on social and emotional development in children, and to specialize in non-profit management. His first major move into leadership came as he took on the supervision of all our education programs, from our pre-school to the mentoring programs and our college access department. This department is cornerstone to the work of NM. We want desperately to collapse the cycle of poverty and education can be a silver bullet when it comes to getting a leg up. Providentially, this was an area of great suffering in Jeremy’s childhood who grew up athletically gifted while academically challenged. He had dyslexia and learned to read only once he was in college. What a profound choice by our Lord to give Jeremy all this responsibility inside a venue of his own personal understanding. Here in our education department, Jeremy experience to see the obstacles that made learning difficult for people, investigated research-based solutions and attended conferences determined to apply this learning to the institution of NM. Would NM become a place that understood brain development? Would NM’s theology carry us into the recesses of human suffering? Would NM be willing to put practices in place that gave people certainty in the midst of life’s crisis? Foundationally, NM is determined to be a learning organization, therefore it is critical it has leaders who are learners.Damian was considered by the state as “too old” to adopt by then, but he, too, lived with Jeremy and Jessica. Suffice it to say, Jeremy and Jessica gave (and continue to invest) their lives sacrificially. A developing leader at NM can look at them and see that to be called into mission here is to live a life that is not your own, as Jesus reminds us.
Jeremy wants NM to be stronger organizationally, to have policies in place that guide decisions with consistent methods to lead people and manage programs. He also desperately desires that the good work we have been doing these 33 years gets measured and analyzed. [Today we are under the good guidance of an innovative professor at ASU who is leading an entire class on this very initiative.]
Can you see why we have stepped out in this direction, giving a young leader among us so much responsibility? Jeremy has loved here, sacrificially and at much cost. Jeremy has grown here, understanding now how a faith non-profit serving the poor can make a difference. And now, Jeremy will lead here, committed to the continuing improvement of NM all while staying true to our mission.
Please join me and our board and staff in welcoming our dear brother into this new role. Pray for him, support him and follow him. It is our shared desire and belief that he will honor you in carrying this role well. May the Lord bless him and keep him, may the Lord make His face to shine upon him and give him peace.
With Joy and Blessings,
Kit Danley, President