(Image of Christel DeHaan [pictured left] courtesy of Christel House International.)
One of the biggest names in philanthropy in Indiana is announcing her retirement. Christel House International Chief Executive Officer Christel DeHaan will remain board chair, but leave as CEO of the nonprofit she founded 20 years ago. The organization has named former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson to be her successor. CHI's mission is to lift children out of poverty, and it has established learning centers at home in Indianapolis and abroad in Mexico, India, South Africa and Venezuela.
DeHaan says the scope of the leadership transition goes beyond naming the next CEO. "As Founder, I will continue to support the organization," she said. "My financial commitment ensures that 100 percent of donor contributions will go directly to help kids. There is a structure in place to ensure general & administrative and fundraising expenses are covered in perpetuity. I have every confidence that under Bart's leadership, combined with a skilled and committed staff, Christel House will continue its trajectory of excellence and achievement."
DeHaan calls Peterson, who served two terms as Indianapolis mayor between 2000 and 2008, a "proven leader with impeccable integrity and a passion for the Christel House mission." During his time as head of the state's largest city, Peterson became the first mayor in the country to be granted legislative authority to authorize charter schools. After his time in office, Peterson joined Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., departing the company last year in the position of senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Peterson says he sees opportunities for the organization. "This is an organization that has really focused on operational excellence, and it's that operational excellence that allows the results be produced. In this case, unlike a traditional for-profit business, are not for profit, but the results are transformed lives. Kids have opportunities that they never would have had otherwise," he said. "We also want to expand internationally at a measured pace and also expand partnerships and alliances with academia, with international businesses, with other NGOs, with governments, with other foundations, but there's a lot to do, but an incredible foundation that I'll be inheriting."
Prior to launching CHI, DeHaan co-founded Resort Condominiums International, an enterprise she later sold. She was recently honored as the Indiana India Business Council's first-ever Indiana Ratna -- or "Indiana Jewel."
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