Chief Administrative Officer Named
Shirley DeVries will be the new chief administrative officer of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. This is a new position for the denomination, and DeVries will be the first to fill this binational role. She was appointed during a special meeting of the Council of Delegates Nov. 16.
“We met with and interviewed some very gifted candidates,” said Paula Coldagelli, chair of the search team for this position.
“It became more and more clear that this position required someone with not only the skill set but also the ability to understand and lead organizationally in a time of change. Shirley DeVries’s deep commitment and longevity in the CRCNA brings a thoughtful and steady presence in a time of change.”
DeVries has worked for the CRCNA since 1982, serving in such roles as administrative assistant, internal trainer, and business analyst. Since 1999 she has served as the director of information and technology. She has also taken on additional responsibilities such as risk assessment and monitoring coordinator, facilities manager for the Grand Rapids, Mich. office, and U.S. director of administrative operations.
In this latest role, DeVries has served alongside the interim CAO, Lloyd VanderKwaak, and has gained a thorough understanding of the transitions that have been taking place since the Structure and Leadership Task Force (SALT) recommendations were adopted by Synod 2022.
“Shirley embodies visionary and adaptable traits that are keys to implementing new structures while keeping on mission. She demonstrates sensitivity and understanding in the area of binationality. Her experience in serving both sides of the border are vast, and she appreciates and strives to understand ministry needs as they relate to contextual application and diversity. Partnership, collaboration, and understanding relationships were themes we heard as we interviewed her,” said Coldagelli.
DeVries said that she originally wasn’t going to apply for the position, but after the search stretched on for more than eight months, she felt God nudging her to be open to this possibility.
Her position as information and technology director and her work related to risk assessment and monitoring have resulted in extensive engagement with both Canadian and U.S. staff, agencies, and departments.
“I have been in this binational role for a long time and have experience contextualizing our approach because of the differences in the U.S. and Canadian laws,” she said.
“Through four decades of working at the Christian Reformed Church, I am aware of the complexities of the organization and many of the intricacies of our current situation,” she added.
“During this time, my understanding of the vision of the SALT report has been clarified, and I have had the opportunity to understand the role that joint ministry agreements play in creating partnerships across the Canadian and U.S. ministries of the CRC. Although paths for partnering will still have to be made sustainable, I am excited about the new way forward.”
DeVries will begin her role soon so that she can work together with VanderKwaak before his interim role ends Dec. 24.