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New President for St. Francis

Adapted from a St. Francis Community Services release

The Rev. Robert Nelson Smith of Peru, Illinois, will begin work as the sixth president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Community Services on July 7. Smith, a graduate of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, was ordained to the priesthood in 2011.

“Fr. Smith, an Episcopal priest, has an extensive background in healthcare administration and is excited to couple that experience with the work of St. Francis Community Services,” said the Rev. Dennis Gilhousen, chairman of the board. “We believe he is exactly the right person to continue leading St. Francis as we touch the lives of so many people.”

For the last three years, Smith has served as associate rector to four churches that form LaSalle County Episcopal Ministry within the Diocese of Chicago.

Since 2009, Fr. Smith has also served as chief operating officer and vice president of physician services and quality for Illinois Valley Community Hospital. He has overseen department operational budgets of more than $125 million while developing strategies to improve patient care and safety and access to services. He also supervised operations for the IVCH Medical Group, which provides primary care, specialized care, mental health treatment, and a community clinic to meet the needs of uninsured and underinsured patients.

In all, Fr. Smith brings nearly 20 years of healthcare and public policy experience to St. Francis Community Services.

The Rev. Robert Mize, Jr., founded the ministry in Ellsworth, Kansas, in 1945 as St. Francis Boys’ Home. It is based in Salina.

Fr. Smith succeeds The Very Rev. Edward Fellhauer, who announced his retirement late last year after 12 years of leading SFCS.

“I am humbled to have been asked to help guide the future of St. Francis Community Services,” Fr. Smith said. “The ministry that Fr. Mize began in 1945 and that Fr. Ed and the Board of Directors have carried forward is truly God’s work.

“When I began my career in healthcare, my organization’s mission statement compelled us to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable. This challenge has never left me, and to know that St. Francis Community Services is committed, at its most fundamental level, to providing the healing to children and families found in the forgiving, redeeming love of Christ is, for me, a ministry and calling to which I now dedicate my every effort.”


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