SHERIDAN — Ryan Koltiska will soon trade in the marketing hat worn at the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce to one of executive director at Sheridan KidsLife.
Koltiska will start at KidsLife on Sept. 11, leading and equipping a team of staff, interns and volunteers for all the KidsLife programs.
The programs are for kids in grades three through five, junior high and high school and happen year round in Sheridan, Big Horn and the Tongue River Valley.
Koltiska will be engaged in all the programs, overseeing the curriculum, recruiting new leaders and volunteers, creating partnerships with other organizations and churches, and also being administrative support. Koltiska said all of his duties are focused on providing a place for kids to flourish and build relationships as they grow in their relationship with Christ, as the mission of the organization is to connect kids to Christ through authentic relationships.
Recently, The Press caught up with Koltiska to talk about his new role at KidsLife. Here’s what he had to say:
When did the rebranding happen and why?
Sheridan KLIFE was rebranded in May of this year to Sheridan KidsLife, a decision driven by the board’s belief that they could achieve the mission better and more efficiently by being an independent local organization rather than an affiliate of the national KLIFE organization. The structure of the national organization restricted certain staffing decisions and organizational changes that the board felt could move the start-up organization into a sustainable long-term program.
Why did this role appeal to you?
This role appealed to me for a couple reasons. First, before I started my role as director of marketing and communications at the Chamber of Commerce, I was in ministry, serving as the associate pastor at Sheridan Wesleyan Church for five years, and 10 years as the worship pastor there as well.
I loved being in ministry and my heart really is drawn to any opportunity where I can do that. I also am excited about the fact that Sheridan KidsLife is a community organization and reaches Big Horn, Tongue River and Sheridan and the opportunity that brings to kids all over Sheridan County. Plus, I will be the first executive director for the organization and I am excited about all the potential.
What do you hope to accomplish in the new position?
I want to change the world! But outside of my dreams of grandeur, I hope to be a catalyst for the organization to find long-term stability in Sheridan. With the transition from KLIFE to KidsLife, there is an opportunity for organization and programming change that can better serve the Sheridan County community and with my training and background in nonprofits and ministry, I hope I can provide that for KidsLife. Also, while partnerships in the community are strong already, I want to continue building those partnerships and find new ones where it makes sense. And most important, I want to build strong relationships with the kids and youth and empower them to live Christ-centered lives.
What do you think most people don’t know about the organization, but should?
One of the things I have already mentioned is that there are clubs in Big Horn, Tongue River and Sheridan, so the reach is further than just Sheridan and those clubs are growing. Also, the board of KidsLife has a $2 million capital campaign in the works and already has $1.2 million committed from local foundations and the KidsLife board. They already have been gifted the land next to the YMCA where the current clubhouse sits and have plans to build a great new center on the two lots that can meet the practical needs for the organization. The project is scheduled to begin in 2018. Great things are already happening!
How do your strengths
complement this new position?
I think I come with a diverse background in both the nonprofit sector as well as having a background in ministry, providing experience in both areas that are applicable to what KidsLife is doing. Plus, one of the things I love is seeing people and organizations work together so that we can do more together than we could apart. I’m hoping that characteristic in me not only benefits KidsLife but the community as a whole as we figure out how we can be a support mechanism for other organizations.
What are challenges you foresee?
Like any new position, there is a learning curve, but this is also a newly created position at KidsLife, so creating the executive director role and fitting it to the needs of the organization will take some time.
There may also be some challenges in the transition from being affiliated with a national organization to being local, but I think the benefits of this new transition will far outweigh any of the challenges.