Robert Pieters, the founder, president and CEO of Heritage Christian Services, will retire at the end of the year after 26 years leading the organization.
Pieters, named the 2010 Executive of the Year by the Rochester Business Journal, will continue to serve Heritage Christian by joining its board in 2013, officials with the organization noted. His successor will be Marisa Geitner, who became executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2005 as part of a strategic executive succession plan for the agency.
“We spent years planning so that we could start this organization, and we’ve also spent several years preparing for this transition in leadership,” Pieters said. “We believe we owe it to the people we support and to their families to ensure this agency is strong, not just for today but for the future.”
The organization traces its roots back to 1980 with an idea hatched by Pieters and his wife Marie. They banded together with a group of other parents who had children with developmental disabilities to form a Christian-based non-profit, even mortgaging their homes to do so.
The first home opened four years later, and once Pieters became president in 1986 he led the organization on more than two decades of growth that would eventually lead to 100 facilities and an operating budget of more than $55 million, Heritage Christian officials said.
Over the past 10 years, Heritage Christian has been ranked in the top 1 percent of the more than 800 providers statewide by the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
The agency still has a bright future ahead, Pieters said, and he looks forward to remaining closely involved with his work on the board.
“Heritage Christian has never been one to rest on its laurels,” Pieters said. “I’m proud of where this agency has come from, and I know I’ll be proud of where it is going.”
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