Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New CEO at Helm of Grace Hill `the Need Here Is Greater Than . . . in Other Places'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New CEO at Helm of Grace Hill `the Need Here Is Greater Than . . . in Other Places'

Article excerpt

Grace Hill is facing stormy times, and a hurricane is coming to its rescue.

Rodney S. Wead swept ashore in April as new president and CEO of the 94-year-old nonprofit agency, which provides health care and other services to the poor. He arrives amid federal budget cuts and increasing need.

"I want to bring enthusiasm, hope and creativity to Grace Hill," said Wead, 61. "I'm very competitive with my work, and I push very hard." Linda Johnson, family support coordinator with Grace Hill Neighborhood Services, said the group has already felt Wead's spirit. "His excitement rubs off on everybody," she said. "He listens, he gets involved, and he brings a sense of culture, which is very uplifting." Wead will be tested, said George Eberle, who retired after 43 years with the group. "His job," Eberle said, "is bringing Grace Hill through the changes it is facing. The challenges of those decisions, and dealing with some of the funding cuts - well, that may take more energy than even he has." Much of Grace Hill's $14 million annual budget is made up of federal and state contracts that flow through their five health clinics. Grace Hill employs 403 staff members, about 150 of which work at its headquarters at 2600 Hadley Street. "It's a double whammy," Wead said. "Poor people are facing cuts in welfare and food stamps, and we're facing funding cuts for some of our programs." Wead hopes to make up for lost federal funds through increased corporate donations. "I've been impressed with the giving of the corporate community here, but we will still have deficits. We need to raise $200,000 by September." Shaun Armstrong, Wead's former assistant with Neighborhood House in Omaha, Neb., said Wead is up to the challenge. "He really cares about his work and the people he is helping," Armstrong said. "He works hard, and that's tough to find today." Wead, a high school track star, grew up in the same Omaha housing complex as former Cardinals great Bob Gibson and Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers. …

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