A Leader For Our Time : Bailey Good Choice to Help Homeless

Originally published as an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel on March 26, 2013.

The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness announced this week the hiring of Andrae Bailey as their new CEO. Andrae Bailey is a great choice. I know him to be a collaborative leader who moves beyond institutional loyalties to reach higher goals. This is the type leader we need to solve many of our homelessness issues.

As the president of the IDignity Board of Directors I have been most impressed with Andrae’s collaborative attitude, congenial nature, and strategic thinking. Notwithstanding his role at the Community Food & Outreach Center, Andrae helped IDignity consider our funding strategies, position in the community, and relationship with key city leaders. This type of partnership is unfortunately all too rare between non-profit. Andrae showed by his actions that he cares more for the plight of the poor than defending his turf.

A current question in the Church is this: kingdom building or institution building? The underlying premise concerns a leader’s motive. Does a leader desire to increase the scope of an institutional church solely, or to focus on the kingdom of God purposes laid out by Jesus regardless of their direct impact upon a particular church? People discern quickly whether a leader or a church is more concerned with its own survival or about greater aspirations, like seeing to it that the lost get saved, the orphan cared for and the widow comforted.

In the same vein, the Commission has wisely chosen in Andrae Bailey a leader who is motivated more for the community’s sake than solely advancing his organization. If we are to have systemic change the Commission knows it must corral a mix of government entities, non-profits and faith communities, the business community and the general public. Andrae can effectively serve, lead, and manage this mix of personalities and agendas.

To some it may appear futile to serve the Commission, a board of such dissimilar members with no funding source, few wins, and fuzzy goals. Yet Andrae can change this. Not to try would be a tragic failure both for the homeless and the rest of our community.  We should want Andrae to succeed; we should want the Commission to succeed. If they do not, our community will not soon be able to resolve many of the issues that promote homelessness. Commission, Andrae, you have our attention.

Case Thorp is the President of the IDignity Board of Directors, and an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.

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