REFLECTING AND LOOKING AHEAD
On any given day at the International headquarters of Boys Hope Girls Hope in St Louis, one can witness CEO Paul Minorini pacing around the building while using his cell phone for BHGH business….making connections…..reaching out….telling the story….sealing the deal….laughing, caring and sharing. His frenetic “walk and talk” routine may well be the thing that will be most missed by staff members as Paul takes leave of the organization at the end of the year to attend to the personal needs of an ailing parent in Chicago.
After a 30 year association with BHGH, 20 in staff leadership positions, Paul will be handing over the reins of the organization to current President Kristin Ostby de Barillas, formerly the Vice President of International Development. Says Paul: “This is a very exciting opportunity for Boys Hope Girls Hope! We have the fortunate blessing of a smooth leadership transition to a proven and inspirational leader. I will continue supporting Kristin and BHGH in any way that furthers the mission and Kristin’s success.”
Paul’s first years of association with BHGH were as a volunteer, serving as a summer camp counselor for the program’s island camp in Canada, tutoring scholars in the Chicago homes and serving as a volunteer houseparent there while attending Northwestern University on an Evans Scholarship. It was during these volunteer days that Paul got to know well the founder of BHGH, Fr. Paul Sheridan, S.J., who, some years later, recruited Paul to come into a professional role with the organization as its Director of Organizational Advancement. Then, in 2001, Paul ascended into the role of President and Chief Executive Officer, nearly 16 years ago.
Of his tenure, Fr. Sheridan has recently communicated: “Paul has been an amazing leader for Boys Hope Girls Hope”…working “tirelessly to win the necessary financial resources needed to maintain and grow the operation, and relating personally to our scholars at every turn. On a personal level, Paul’s character with its pronounced integrity won over individuals, foundations and corporations to embrace this mission and to invest generously in it.” An alumnus commented upon Paul’s leaving: “From the first day I met Paul and every day since he has brought a smile to my face and lifted my spirits. I have watched Paul connect with many others over the years through laughter, his good-hearted nature, and his sincere unwavering dedication to the mission of BHGH and the scholars. Paul is leaving a tremendous legacy and he will be missed greatly.”
Paul readily admits that his favorite part of the job has always been interacting directly with the youth served, “watching our scholars and collegians soar to success, however that might be manifested by an individual.” And he says it’s the “people of BHGH—the staff, scholars, alumni, Board and donors”—that he will miss most. The happiest moment of his many years in leadership was attending the graduation ceremony of the first college graduate of the Guatemala Affiliate three years ago. “It was an amazing experience to be there and witness this young person launching into a new life as a college graduate, and realizing how far the Latin American program has come in its development.”
Asked about his perspective on his greatest achievement as President/CEO, Paul gives full credit for any accomplishments to the IO and Affiliate staff, Board and donors, saying “we’ve grown together to serve five times the number of youth since I started, through some very difficult times and immense social change. Between the 9/11 tragedy in 2001 and the Great Recession of 08- 09, we’ve experienced some major financial challenges; but we were able to not only survive, but thrive throughout, thanks to our amazing local and IO teams.”
Reflecting on Paul’s leadership through challenging times, Mike de Graffenried, outgoing Board Chairman who’s worked closely with Paul a number of years, had this to share: “Paul’s greatest contribution was to be open minded about how to pursue our mission. I can think of aspects of what we now do well that we would have avoided without Paul’s willingness to explore possibilities outside the model. In each case the willingness to adapt the model worked and helped us help more scholars and in new and different ways. Ego never got in the way for Paul because the scholars were always first.” An example is “the way he went about ensuring that the organization was protected through a well planned and extended transition that provided flexibility to adapt to unforeseen issues.”
Moving forward, Paul sees nothing but greater success for BHGH under Kristin Ostby de Barillas’s leadership. He believes her greatest challenge will revolve around the continued stabilization of the financial picture of the organization, as well as maintaining improved staff retention at all levels. Paul believes Kristin “is the perfect person to meet these challenges: a rare and very special combination of tremendous dedication and passion for helping our scholars, exceptional team-building skills, keen intellect and business savvy, and a great ability to communicate her commitment and knowledge to both current and potential supporters.” Paul continues, “I always tried to surround myself with exceptional people and help them to realize their potential.”
He believes Kristin is an amazing example of this.
As for Paul’s future, he will be turning his attention in the months ahead to caring for an aging parent in Chicago with a progressively deteriorating condition. But he will maintain volunteer involvement with BHGH and other non-profit organizations in the area; and he will be available to help and support Kristin through the transition and beyond.
Although Paul’s “walk and talk” routine will be missed around the International office, all staff are eager and excited to work with Kristin to take BHGH to even greater heights as the organization approaches its 40th anniversary.