Getting to Know Jeremy Lile, Heart to Heart Communications Executive Director

Posted on 21. Feb, 2017 by in Blog

Tell us “Jeremy 101” – your background, your family, your hobbies, etc.

I was born and raised in Akron and graduated from the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.  “My mother, Karen, resides in Akron.  My father, John, is deceased.  My older sister, Deborah, lives in Green, and my younger brother, Jonathan, lives in Manhattan, New York.

During my junior year of high school, I went with a leadership group to visit Taylor University, a Christian liberal arts university in Upland, Indiana.  I was drawn to the community and the campus.  I liked the integration of faith and education.  And what was most important to me was their pillars of conviction: wisdom, integrity and excellence.

Originally, I intended to get a degree in business administration.  But then I began to sense a calling to work in the church or ordained ministry so I changed my major to psychology.

During my junior year of college, I returned to The University of Akron to study.  While I ultimately returned to Taylor University to finish my degree, my return to Akron was a blessing because I met my wife, Christy.  We were both serving at an outreach that helped to mentor young children from inner city Akron. Her heart to serve others caught my eye right away.

I graduated in 2003 and Christy and I were married in November of 2004.  Today we have four children:  Rebka, Maeva, Levi and Lidiya.

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, particularly outside activities such as hiking.  We like to explore Akron neighborhoods that are new to us and we really enjoy trying new restaurants, especially if they have food from other cultures.  We like to be adventurous!  Otherwise, I consider myself a bibliophile. It can be hard to find time to read but when I do, I prefer non-fiction books about leadership and spirituality and community development.

 

What inspired your current path – what experience pushed you or guided you into the life you lead today?

My upbringing was in church though we bounced around to different churches so I had wide exposure to different faiths.  I was struck that each group was certain they had it right.  For us, it was really the community and relationships that drew us in.  That was how my faith matured, even before college.  It’s about efficacy in day to day life.

Then, my parents started their own business and faith impacted how they ran it.  My father always told me, ‘Live your life with integrity.  No one can take away your integrity.’  I realized that integrity leads to integration – it affects how you do what you do.

After college, I worked at St. Luke’s Ministries in Akron for 11 years.  Ultimately, I was the pastor of Local and Global Missions.  I enjoyed my work, especially the entrepreneurial spirit to try new things.  I was drawn to explore how faith is used in our lives and how it should be used.

All of these experiences led me to begin City Hope, where I am the Pastor and Visionary Director.  City Hope is a mission helping individuals and families through the restoration of people and place.  Basically, we bring together like-minded people to use their time, skills, passions, abilities, gifts and experiences in practical ways to help others. We believe what you do is an expression of your beliefs and core values, that work is a primary means to live your spirituality.

Then I found Heart to Heart.

 

Describe when you first became aware of Heart to Heart and what you thought about its mission.

I was participating in an Akron to Akron walk, which introduces participants to a neighborhood in Akron.  Kyle Kutuchief, the program director for the Knight Foundation, was in the group as well and told me about Heart to Heart’s Emerging Leaders group.  I went to a meeting and could barely contain myself as I listened to participants talk about their ‘inner life’ and how they strive to live their inner values.  It reflected exactly what I believe: what you do is an expression of your beliefs and core values, that work is a primary means to live your spirituality.

At my second meeting, I simply asked, ‘How can I help and carry this mission forward?’  Father Norm and Larry brought me on to the staff one day a week and it’s grown from there.  Today, I work full-time with Heart to Heart as the Executive Director.

 

What’s your role at Heart to Heart and what do you see as your most important challenge?

I see my role as a steward of the community asset that is Heart to Heart and positioning it for a bright future.

My challenge is helping the community, the business community in particular, to understand the value of Heart to Heart programs and training.  Living your inner values is a necessity; it’s not a soft skill.  We have plenty of anecdotal data and are now gathering statistical data that supports this contention.

I want to honor the past and the legacy of this organization, and prepare it for the possibilities of the future.

 

You are a superhero.  What’s your super power and why?

A superhero?  If I get to be a superhero then my super power would be to fly.

First, I would love it.  More important though, it would allow me to do a variety of things.  It would eliminate down time that is necessary to get from place to place so I’d have more time to get things done.  That would give me more and better opportunities to help people, even to rescue people.  It would allow me to be where I’m needed and to be present.

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