Wyman has been providing services to young people for over 114 years, and can even claim the title of oldest camp west of the Mississippi. In that time, the organization has grown from locally serving youth in economically disadvantaged circumstances to nationally serving youth in economically disadvantaged circumstances. Sound similar? Wyman still focuses on serving young people and provides evidence-based programming to suit their needs, allowing its core values to remain fundamental. This adherence to Wyman’s early principles is largely due to the leadership of Dave Hilliard, Wyman’s current CEO. This year marks Dave’s 40th anniversary with Wyman, and is an exciting time for planning for the future while appreciating the past.
Hilliard would be the first person to assert that Wyman has had a continuum of devoted leaders who prioritized mission; through their guidance, Hilliard was exposed to the characteristics of a successful leader. In his first year as the Assistant Director of the camp, Hilliard promptly demonstrated his dedication to Wyman’s programs and their success. That year, Hilliard contributed to the camp in all possible ways, from installing winter water lines to finding new sources of income for the organization.
For the next few years, Hilliard focused on learning the culture of the organization and researching its history as he continued to develop Wyman’s site and programs.Then, in 1975, Hilliard was hired as Executive Director. In this position, he played a strategic leadership role for Wyman, continually exploring avenues to improve Wyman’s programs. Hilliard’s energy and persistent aim for improvement led him and Wyman’s Board to adopt best-practices in education and youth development. The shift allowed Wyman’s programs to achieve lasting impact in the communities they served; it also narrowed Wyman’s focus to providing supports and opportunities for teens from underserved communities to be successful in life.
Everything Dave Hilliard has contributed to Wyman during his leadership takes place simply and solely within the framework of positive outcomes for young people—the outcomes which kept Wyman true to its foundational values throughout its transitions in the last four decades. A leader by example, his unwavering support and belief in Wyman models are the very characteristics that Wyman strives to instill in its teens. Through his ongoing service to youth, Hilliard has established Wyman as a national expert in the field of teen development and allowed Wyman’s programs to reach thousands of teens across the nation.