It took less than three seconds for Michael Readinger to decide to formally apply as CHHSM’s new president and CEO when he learned that the Rev. Bryan Sickbert planned to retire at the end of the year.
“I’ve been with CHHSM for almost a decade, so this isn’t foreign territory for me,” says Readinger, who succeeded Sickbert on Nov. 10. “I have a deep love and understanding of ministry and our mission, and I’m excited to be called to this role.”
The position isn’t just another job for Readinger – it’s a calling, something he’s been preparing for his whole life.
After earning a master’s degree in business administration from Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1983, Readinger eventually joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, a retail brokerage financial services corporation, as an associate vice president and financial manager. It was a corporate job that helped him develop his relationship skills while affording him time to volunteer on the side. Introduced to leadership training through United Way, he began to chair a few boards and soon discovered that he transitioned from a volunteer to a leader in every organization he joined.
“I’ve been a United Church of Christ member for more than 20 years, but my volunteerism actually escalated while I worked in the financial sector because I had more time to give,” he says.
By the early 2000s, Readinger began to explore opportunities to transition into nonprofit work full time. As a board member of several faith-based and nonprofit organizations, including United Church Funds and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, he met Sickbert and joined CHHSM as vice president in 2005.
Now he’ll apply what he’s learned about financial management, relationship building and member engagement as CHHSM’s new president and CEO. From his experience, he knows that the organization must be able to articulate its value to members and enhance connections and partnerships in the months and years ahead.
“I see a future where our members are talking to each other about CHHSM’s value and relevance to advancing their ministries,” he says. “I also want to enhance and widen our connection with the church. To do this, we need to have a clear sense of what CHHSM actually is – what’s our value proposition, and why do members belong?”
Readinger’s passion and vision for CHHSM’s future were evident from the start, says the Rev. Ken Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes in Marion, Ohio, and chair of CHHSM’s president and CEO search committee.
“Mike is deeply invested in the role that CHHSM plays in linking different ministries and lifting up their missions,” Daniel says. “He has strong relationships and respect for the thousands of lives these organizations impact every day.”
It’s incumbent on CHHSM to provide value as a member-driven organization, something that presents both challenges and opportunities, Readinger says. But with decades of experience building relationships and serving with the church, he’s eager to accept this calling.
“CHHSM’s mission is at the intersection of my passion for ministry and my professional background and education,” he says. “I’m ready for this journey.”