A guy with a big, deep, bass voice asks that question in TV commercials. At this moment of transition for HFP, the question deserves an answer.
Some time ago I sent out this popular quote as Father’s Day approached:
"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad."
I bring it up today as a footnote to the public announcement that our son Matt has been appointed President and CEO of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. At first glance, that announcement smacks of nepotism. But, in truth, it’s far from that.
It’s no secret that I’ve had some serious health issues since HFP was founded in 2001. Some friends tease me about having nine lives.
In situations when my future is in question, two things happen. Number one, some people see a possible opportunity to replace me. And number two, our Directors take a hard look at a possible replacement.
-One highly qualified guy really wanted my job, and let our directors know that he was available. They soon learned, however, that while the man apparently had a big heart for prisoners, his past record of treating employees was dismal.
-A seemingly very religious person seemed to have the right qualifications until the discussion of transgender prisoners arose. There was little empathy for those potential clients.
-Then there was the gay/lesbian issue. This person had room for plenty of love and compassion of prisoners, as long as they’re “straight.”
-Religious belief was another hot-button. Some found it difficult to extend love and compassion to Muslims and Buddhists. Some even insisted that Bible study be included in our in-prison efforts.
And so, when it got right down to it, Matt was the obvious choice. Not because he’s my son, but because his track record over the past six years revealed a genuine compassion for the incarcerated. In this office, ALL prisoners are deemed worthy to receive fair, kind and equal treatment. He gets the picture.
It took 18 years to create this atmosphere. So, to paraphrase that old Father’s Day saying, a whole lot of people might seem to have the credentials to serve as CEO of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. But, for someone to take charge of our unique program, it takes a leader with a mind as open as Matt’s, and a heart as big as Matt’s. I proudly pass the mantle, without reservation.
May God bless Matthew, our team, and our agency, as we begin the next chapter.