“What would you do if this child were your child?” is a question that Wayne Sims asked himself every day as the former CEO of KVC Health Systems, a non-profit organization with one of the nation’s broadest continuums of care for children and families. Since retiring in December 2015, Sims has authored a new book called Non-Profit/Pro-Growth – The KVC Story: Improving Child Welfare Through Values-Based Organizational Growth. The book details the ever-changing climate of child welfare, recognizes KVC employees and supporters who work to strengthen families and communities, and pays tribute to the thousands of children and families whose lives KVC has positively impacted.
Every year, there are more than 3.6 million referrals to child protection services agencies in the United States, involving more than 6.6 million children. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. There is perhaps no business more complex and high-stakes than the business of caring for children and teens who are “in the system” – who need behavioral healthcare and supportive, loving homes in the midst of major family trauma. And attempting to grow an organization across state lines, against all odds, in collaboration (and sometimes in opposition with) government and private entities, is no small task.
But when business decisions are made with heart, amazing things happen — missions are met, values-driven cultures are created, organizations grow in sustainable ways, and human lives are changed for the better. The KVC Story contains lessons learned by Sims which are equal parts inspiring, instructive and relevant, regardless of the field in which you lead.
“In the fields of child welfare and behavioral healthcare, we meet at the juncture of hurt and heartache each time a child is removed from his or her family into foster care or each time a member of the family is hospitalized.” – Wayne Sims
Sims led the organization through 35 years of remarkable growth — from a group home for five boys to a multi-state child welfare system that serves 60,000 children and families a year. The KVC Story gives readers a rare glimpse into the heart and mind of a leader who learned some of the most valuable career lessons possible, such as:
- Hiring for character, experience and matching values, not just educational credentials
- Turning every experience into an opportunity to learn and grow
- Engaging the majority of a workforce in the mission, vision and culture of the organization
- Changing tact and even strategy — but never values or heart — when leading in evolving business, social or political climates in which “successes are rarely permanent, and failures are never enduring”
- Avoiding becoming functionally irrelevant as an organization by focusing less on process and more on cultural development and on achieving outcomes
- Using data to drive better decisions
- Creating partnerships, practices and a purpose that outlasts your tenure
Earlier this month, Sims participated in a special book-signing event for long-time friends of the organization and current leaders. See a few photos from the event in a private home in the Kansas City area:
Several leaders have recommended the book including:
Jason Hooper, President and CEO, KVC Health Systems: “A true testament to the impact people can achieve when driven by a vision of making the world a better place. Wayne Sims reminds us the KVC story is about people, unwavering values and the commitment to help vulnerable families build hope and resiliency. We owe Wayne a tremendous amount of gratitude for his vision and dedication to communities, and for sharing with us the measure of a true leader.”
Susan Dreyfus, President and CEO, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Former Secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: “Wayne’s book is a must-read by any emerging leader in our field and sector. The story of KVC and the highly relevant and transferable ‘lessons learned’ shared by Wayne demonstrate how our sector is more than providers of great programs and services under contract with government. We are transformational agents of change.”
Patrick McCarthy, PhD, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation: “Much more than a memoir of the remarkable career of a truly visionary leader, Non-Profit/Pro-Growth – The KVC Story is a compelling, highly readable, and practical guide for anyone working to change how human services are delivered. … Everyone working to improve care for children, from frontline staff to supervisors to agency directors to policy makers, should read and then re-read this book.”