Today I announced to the DIFW community that this will be my last year as the CEO. Here’s what we wrote on the transition website: “Denver Institute for Faith & Work’s board of directors announced January 7, 2022, that Jeff Haanen will transition the CEO role to a new leader in 2022. This leadership handoff was initiated by Jeff and comes after 10 years of dedicated service to the organization. The DIFW board will immediately begin preparing to conduct a search for the next leader. Jeff will continue as CEO until a successor is named later in 2022.“
Dear Denver Institute Community,
I write today to share the news that after much conversation, reflection, and prayer with the board of directors, I’ve decided to step down as CEO of Denver Institute for Faith & Work at the end of 2022. It has been a privilege and honor founding and then building DIFW over the last 10 years. We believe that now is the right time for a transition that will allow for the right amount of lead time to carry out a search process for a new CEO. I will stay in my role as CEO until a new CEO is appointed in late 2022 and will continue to serve DIFW for the next 9-12 months with the supportive help of our stable and talented staff leadership.
As I reflect on my own professional journey, there are three reasons why I believe now is the right time to transition to a new leader. The first reason is God’s call. Starting and growing an organization has been a gift; it has also come with challenges. Months ago, I began to sense God’s call to “release” Denver Institute. Like many founders, I’ve found that my identity has often been too wrapped up into my work and professional success. I believe God is calling me to love the Caller more than the calling, and open-handedly let go of the CEO role. The time is right to rest, seek renewal, and recenter my heart on Christ himself, my final and deepest gift.
The second reason is institutional renewal. For years I’ve observed the careers of leaders in American Christianity I deeply respect. Several of them made the decision to step down after 10 years of very successful leadership. They realized that institutions need seasons of renewal, like people, and that fresh vision, perspective, and leadership is often key to long-term institutional strength. I believe the Christian church needs leaders who can take up the mantle of responsibility; it also needs those who can just as easily lay it down. I also believe that leadership is stewardship, not a personal possession. I also believe that ultimately the Resurrected Christ is the leader of DIFW, and He will be faithful to continue his good work through a new leader.
The third reason is about long-term organizational health. I believe healthy transitions of power are critical to healthy institutions that have staying power – and they’re all too rare. A healthy process of giving power to a new leader is key to seeing DIFW grow and thrive for the next generation. Moreover, DIFW is in a healthy position. We have a strong leadership team, a budget of more than $1M, a group of 250+ committed donors, and highly effective programs such as the 5280 Fellowship, CityGate, public events, the Faith & Work Classroom, the Faith & Work Podcast, and our national events, Women, Work & Calling and Business for the Common Good. The organization is healthy and well-positioned for a new leader.
The board will begin a process of searching for my successor. Board Chair Bob Larkin will be in touch with our constituents over the coming months to answer any questions. I’m deeply grateful to the board of directors for their work in this process. It’s a joy to work alongside such a capable group of leaders. Long term, I intend to stay connected to DIFW not just as the founder, but as a fellow donor, learner and friend.
Paul once wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Truly, for so many of you DIFW has been a labor of love, prompted by faith and ultimately inspired by the call of Jesus himself. As my wife and my four daughters await God’s call in this next season of our life, we want to express to you our deep gratitude for all you’ve given, and continue to give.
You believed. You gave. You came. You worked. You prayed. You loved. And what we have built is a strong, healthy institution centered on the life, death, resurrection and Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and its far-reaching effects for our work and our world.
Thank you for the honor of leading for ten, wonderful years. You have my sincere gratitude.
Founder & CEO
Denver Institute for Faith & Work