Christian Center of Park City searches for a new executive director

Rob Harter, who joined the humanitarian nonprofit in 2010, will step up as co-chair

Executive Director of the Christian Center of Park City Rob Harter, right, pours coffee at a Lucky Ones Coffee cart in 2019. Harter will vacate his role and transition as the new co-chair of the nonprofit once a replacement is found.
Park Record file photo by Tanzi Propst

Rob Harter has spent more than a decade helping the Christian Center of Park City work toward its mission as the nonprofit’s executive director. But after 12 years, Harter will transition to a seat on its board to provide a new perspective to better inform decisions.

Harter was announced as the new co-chair of the Board for the Christian Center last week by founders Jim and Susan Swartz. He will move into the seat currently occupied by Jim, who is staying on the board, with Susan continuing to serve in her co-chair role. The couple created the nonprofit in 1999 to help Summit and Wasatch county residents meet their basic needs.

The opportunity will give Harter more time to look into strategic planning, long-term initiatives and coaching while paving the way for new ideas to be brought in by the nonprofit’s next leader.

“Over the last almost 13 years I’ve been in every program, I’ve started a bunch of our new programs that are still moving and going forward, so just having that first hand, front row seat of our programs to now being someone on the board helping to make overall decisions will hopefully inform our decisions even better — even though the board has always been great,” Harter said. “There’s just a unique perspective that comes with having a former executive director on the board that’s going to be really helpful.”

As the new co-chair, Harter looks forward to diving deeper into the nonprofit’s humanitarian work. He will primarily focus on developing or expanding critical services related to counseling and mental wellness as the demand continues to increase. There will also be a chance to explore special initiatives that will help the nonprofit address gaps in service by looking at what issues are unmet or emerging.

Harter started at the Christian Center in 2010. He played a vital role in getting the nonprofit off the ground, managing a growing staff, raising support for a multimillion-dollar capital campaign and responding to the evolving needs of the internal organization as well as the broader community.

Back 2 School Basics, Snacks in Backpacks and the food pantry are just a few programs Harter is proud to have been involved in. The efforts help provide students and families in need with school supplies as well as nutritional food to create healthy meals.

A standout moment during Harter’s tenure as executive director is how the Christian Center stepped up in 2020. He said he is proud of how volunteers and staff jumped into action during the coronavirus pandemic.

They focused on providing three main services, including operating the mobile food bank, arranging counseling and donating more than $2 million in basic needs assistance, which primarily helped people pay their rent or mortgage.

“That was such a stressful time for all of us, and yet that was a critical time where we were really relied on by the city, county and community …. We never shut down,” Harter said. 

He will continue to serve as the executive director until a replacement is found, which will provide continuity during the adjustment period. The board is leading the search and plans to pursue local, regional and national candidates. 

Harter said the nonprofit’s next leader should be willing to take the time to learn about the community and work to understand its residents. This is critical to making long-lasting connections. 

Dr. Rob Harter, the executive director of the Christian Center of Park City, received the Linda Singer Berrett Professional Citizen of the Year Award from Park City Rotarian Bob Richer, right, in August.
Courtesy of Park City Rotary

The individual should also have a lot of energy and passion — something that exudes from Harter — with a desire to responsibly grow the Christian Center. Lastly, he said the right person for the job should be nimble and flexible with the ability to act fast in a changing environment. The nonprofit sector requires someone to be adaptable and unafraid of making difficult decisions. 

The board does not have a timeline for the search for a new executive director. Harter said the group wants to make sure they have the best candidate.

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