Perry Hines knows the word “calling” is tossed around a lot in the corporate and nonprofit worlds, but the incoming president and CEO of Wheeler Mission believes the oft-used term is appropriate in this case.
When Hines takes over the Christian social services organization in March, he’ll be the first African American president and CEO in its 130-year history.
Hines joined Wheeler in 2021 as chief development officer and assumed he’d do that for several years. But with longtime President and CEO Rick Alvis transitioning out of his role after more than 30 years, the opportunity was there for Hines to step up.
“It’s not hard to fall in love with the DNA of Wheeler,” he said.
Hines emerged from a potential candidate list of more than 700 people during a search process that spanned eight months. In a statement, Jim Fountain, chairman of the Wheeler Mission Board of Directors, said it became clear Hines was the right person for the job.
“Perry has all the qualities we were looking for in our next leader and his deep connection to the community, our donor base and the organization was an added bonus,” Fountain said.
Hines grew up in rural Kentucky and was a first-generation college graduate, earning a journalism degree from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a former C-suite marketing executive and founded The Hines Group, a consulting group, in 2007.
One of Hines’ goals for Wheeler is to make sure people understand it does more than provide emergency shelter. There are addiction recovery services and long-term residential programs — along with shelters in Indianapolis and Bloomington.
Hines is also adamant there’s nothing he needs to fix necessarily because it isn’t broken. There’s always room for improvement, but he said it’s the difference between “evolutionary change vs. revolutionary change.”
During the transition period over the next two months, Hines and Alvis will meet with donors and staff, and Alvis will continue to counsel Wheeler afterward as president emeritus.
Contact senior staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or by email TylerF@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.