On January 14, 2019, TEAM's board of directors, staff and volunteers welcomed Barry Hart as our new executive director. Learn more about Barry, what brought him to TEAM, and his vision for TEAM's future.
Please share a bit about your education, professional background, and your path to executive director at TEAM.
I was born in Texas City, Texas, and later moved to the west side of Houston where I spent most of my school years. After high school, I went off to Texas A&M University, getting a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. I spent a year getting a secondary science teacher certification at the University of Texas in Austin, got married to Kathy, a Texas Longhorn, and stayed in Austin a second year to teach. At the end of my year of teaching, Kathy and I went on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and moved to El Paso to work with college students at UT El Paso and New Mexico State University. Six years and two children later, we moved to Houston, continuing to work with InterVarsity students at Rice University. I pursued an MBA at the University of Houston while working full-time and Kathy worked out of the home while raising now three children. I accepted a job in pharmaceutical sales requiring a move to Lufkin. Two years later, I began a 21-year career as Director of Research & Analysis, then Director of Real Estate for Fiesta. Leaving in 2014, I pursued other interests in marketing and real estate for 4 years, then determined that I was to get back into ministry utilizing the business experience that I had acquired. Providentially, my search and TEAM’s need came together beautifully.
What defining moment lead you to the nonprofit sector?
My initial employment in the nonprofit sector was first as a Jr. High/High School science teacher with a private Christian school, then with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an interdenominational ministry to college students. More recently, I felt that the Christian nonprofit sector would be a good place to combine my business background with my heart for ministry. With that in mind, I began to pursue an opportunity in this sector.
Why did you want to lead TEAM?
TEAM’s vision includes several components in which I share a strong belief. The church, in an expression of love for God, fleshes out the Christian call to “love your neighbor as yourself” by serving its community. I am a strong believer in the concept of “sphere sovereignty,” heralded by Dutch theologian and prime minister Abraham Kuyper. This concept suggests that the community is an institution given by God in which we are called to participate and for which we are called to take responsibility. These are central themes to TEAM’s vision, and a core aspect of my desire to lead this organization.
Coming from the business world, what lessons do you think nonprofits should take from the for-profit world?
Work is a gift from God, and God’s people should pursue work in a manner that honors and glorifies Him. With that in mind, we should have no less zeal to seek out excellence in all that we do. TEAM should pursue excellence and professionalism, treating every person with the dignity due them as created in God’s image. These are business principles that should be evident in all business settings, for-profit and nonprofit alike.
Now that you have a few months under your belt, where do you see the strengths, and challenges, of our organization?
From early on, I have been profoundly impressed with the commitment and energy of so many volunteers. What we do with only five staff on payroll is nothing short of remarkable. The culture at TEAM is very solid. There has recently been a synergistic growth in the awareness and respect for TEAM by the Tomball community. Our operation continues to improve, awareness of TEAM grows, and likewise the respect that follows. Our successful Fundraiser, the improved quality of items coming to our resale shop, the increased interest in volunteering for TEAM: all of these are indicators of our growing reputation. That being said, we are in the middle of a number of improvements to our organization that will take us further up the ladder: recruiting more volunteers, filling in some organizational gaps, improving processes and procedures, and increasing our funding sources are all current challenges that we are addressing.
TEAM is moving beyond a hand-out relief ministry and is moving towards a hand-up restorative ministry. What is the job of the executive director in supporting that growth?
I am so appreciative of those at TEAM with a vision to expand our ministry in the community. This has been evident in a variety of ways, and much the same in the development of a hand-up ministry. I have been involved in several meetings for this aspect of our ministry, have offered some recommendation for how to proceed, but I am largely relying on those engaged with this vision to learn the necessary components and develop this ministry in a manner appropriate to our core mission. I consider these efforts as critical a part of our mission as our core ministry. This is as much a part of loving our neighbor as providing food for families and helping with emergency financial needs. Work is an important component of our human dignity.
What is your vision for our organization?
I want to see TEAM represent maturing disciples of Christ who are, because of their love for Him, showing a love for their neighbor in an increasing variety of ways that meet the needs of the Tomball community. By our love for and commitment to our community, TEAM will continue to grow in esteem so that our support continues to grow and our ability to meet the needs of our neighbors increases.
Just for fun, what's something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am in many ways a product of the 1970s. I was in Jr. High when the 70s began and graduated from college in 1980. I have a particular affinity for the music of the 1970s. Eagles, Jackson Brown, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkle and many others. The music of these groups displayed substance in the lyrics and a musicality that is not often found today. These artists did not, of course, display a Biblical worldview in their music, but they did portray thoughtful questions and circumstances. Though my worldview has developed quite profoundly along Biblical lines, I still appreciate and enjoy listening to this music.