New White's CEO settling in

White's CEO Ron Evans tells a story to Denae Green Friday during an

interview. Evans took over as CEO at the first of the year. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

When then--hite’s Residential Services CEO Dee Gibson announced in October 2016 that he was retiring, Ron Evans would often receive recruiting material trying to entice him to take the position.

Already the head of school at Traders Point Christian Academy in Indianapolis, the thought of a change wasn’t too intriguing to him. He was comfortable where he was.

He deleted the recruiting materials he’d received from the White’s recruiter a few times.

However, after a couple persuasive phone calls from the recruiter, Evans decided to look into it.

“The more I looked at it the more I was compelled by the mission of White’s, but I wasn’t compelled that I was the one who needed to lead it,” Evans said initially. “So I called a friend of mine who I had trained to be my successor in other ministries and suggested, ‘Maybe you should be the one to do this.’ He looked at it and said, ‘No, you should do it.’”

So, Evans filled out the paperwork and started the process. The rest is history.

“The more I went through the process of them selecting and me selecting, the more I felt it was just God’s calling in my life,” Evans said. “This wasn’t something where I was looking to make a career change or job move. I really feel like it was directed by the Lord. The first time I came on campus and interviewed, it just became clear to me that this is what I was supposed to be doing.”

The White’s Board of Trustees is also certain it made the right move.

“We are so excited to have Ron, and his wife, Jane, officially join the White’s team,” said Kelly Stouffer, chairman of the White’s Board of Trustees. “It has been a pleasure for the trustees to work beside Ron and Dee throughout the transition period. Ron has an incredible heart for our mission and is dedicated to helping children and families and crisis.”

In his short time on campus, Evans is already taken aback by the incredible stories he hears of lives being touched and transformed because of White’s.

Late last week he met with staff members, one of whom was a resident from the age of 10 before returning to join the staff. That staff member’s daughter also works on campus now.

Evans heard the campus pastor tell a story of a family that stopped him to tell him that 100 years ago, their grandmother was at White’s, and because of her influence on their lives, they were now a pastor.  They wanted to come see the place that had such a profound influence on their lives indirectly over the course of decades of more.

“There are just these stories that date back generations of lives touched here,” Evans said, “And, because of that, they’ve reinvested, and now other lives are being touched. Those are the things I’m finding out, those stories of redemption and reconciliation. This is a place that has incredibly neat life stories. … The people who make up White’s from an employee perspective is a really incredibly neat group of people that have a heart for children.”

The Evans family lives on campus. Growing up in the Midwest, mostly in Iowa, Evans says Wabash feels like home.

“I grew up in a community through junior-high, high school and college that was about the size of Wabash,” Evans said. “It was a nice little rural community.  I feel comfortable being here because of that.”

Evans says Wabash has some really neat surprises that he wasn’t bargaining for, like the Honeywell Center for example, as well as the Modoc’s Market.

“Those are nice,” Evans said. “The first time I went down to Modoc’s I wasn’t even officially here yet. Two people stopped me in the street and said, ‘Hey, you’re the new White’s CEO!’ It’s just that small town feel that we really have liked.”

Like most, Evans follows state news trends. He sees the stories of children sleeping in office buildings, victims of the opioid crisis as their caretakers struggle with addition. He hopes White’s can lend a hand in any way possible.

“What we want to make sure we do is provide a place for healing and hope for them, whether that be through the foster system or through our residential program or something else God might have us do,” Evans said. “There’s an incredible need. I don’t know what we can do to grow, providing opportunities for children like that.

“But that’s what we want to do,” he continued. “The children are in these situations not because of anything they’ve ever done. They’ve been born into a situation beyond their control. The people I’ve gotten to interact with so far have the ability to connect with them and give them hope in some pretty tough times of their lives.”

Posted on 2018 Jan 09