The Lawrence Community Shelter board named a new executive director at its meeting Monday.
Rev. Peter Luckey, president of the board, said the board selected Trey Meyer, who has been involved with the shelter since November 2014.
“We believe that he is the one person of all the candidates we met who has the most promise for helping the shelter be successful in its mission,” Luckey said.
Meyer worked as an attorney from 1999 until 2014. At that time, he said, he ran into some personal challenges that served as an impetus for him to reconsider his career path.
“I made some decisions about practicing law not being a great fit for me personally,” he said. “It was the kind of thing where in order to be really good at practicing law, I had to be some things personally that I just didn’t enjoy being.”
Meyer said the shelter “came onto his radar” last fall. Working there as director of operations, he was able to help others, which he said is also very beneficial to him personally.
Now, as executive director, Meyer has started making plans for the shelter. He said that as a nonprofit, it seems the shelter is always worrying about money.
“My very first priority is to put the shelter on sound financial footing by hiring a director of development and working with that person to craft a fundraising strategy that is going to permit us to fund not only the immediate year but also future years in a sound and responsible way,” he said.
Meyer will be the third executive director of the shelter since longtime director Loring Henderson retired in May 2014. Steven Robinson started in the position that month and resigned in December 2014, followed by Brian Blevins, who left in July to take a position in Kansas City.
“We have had, quite honestly, some turnover in terms of our leadership, but we are confident that we have found in Trey somebody who is willing to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work that’s needed in order to create a sustainable shelter for our community,” Luckey said.
Meyer said one of his goals is to bring some stability to the position and to the shelter.
“I intend to stay as long as the board will have me,” he said. “I think having some stability in the position will be valuable; it will enable us to start to build a coherent philosophy and culture out of the shelter.”
As winter weather draws near, Luckey said the shelter does have concerns about capacity. It has been close to full — with 140 men, women and children — recently.
“We’ve been running close to capacity at the shelter, but we are concerned that with cold weather coming we will see an increase in expectations of services of the shelter,” Luckey said.
Luckey said he believes Meyer will be “very assertive” in working with the city and county to find a solution to these problems.
“(Meyer) will be working closely with board members to come up with a policy that will help the shelter be a successful organization in terms of our mission of responding to people that need a place to stay but also making sure we have adequate staff so we can help people get back up on their feet,” he said.
Luckey said a subcommittee of board members and shelter staff interviewed seven applicants total. The committee recommended two candidates for an interview with the full board. Of those two, Meyer was selected.
“We thought it was really important, since we had an internal candidate, that we have a fair, honest and open search process,” Luckey said.
Meyer was raised in Liberal. He came to Lawrence to get his undergraduate degree at Kansas University in 1991. He also attended law school and met his wife, Jody, at KU. They have three sons — Drew, 12; Tate, 11; and Reece, 8 — and a Labrador retriever named Buddy.