To Chip Hooley, with Gratitude
To Chip Hooley, with Gratitude

To Chip Hooley, with Gratitude

Few leaders demonstrate the diplomatic kindness that Chip Hooley exemplifies on the Dunrovin Board of Directors. Trying to glimpse into his inner workings, I asked Chip about his leadership approach. His humble response was not surprising.

“It’s not about me and what I can do. I’ve always found that if you listen to people, they’ll give you the answer and define it for you.”

Chip continues, “People bring their backgrounds, experiences, biases, and approaches to each situation. If you keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say, they’ll tell you what the answer is. All you have to do is repackage it and find the common ground.”

He knows about finding common ground with a variety of people. Chip managed 300 people at the Cub Foods chain of grocery stores. In this setting, Chip discovered that each Cub employee, regardless of rank, has information and value to add to the operation. “I held listening sessions with donuts and coffee, and anyone who wanted to talk could come and tell me what was going on. I’d ask, ‘What would you do to change that?’ When I didn’t even know there was a problem, they knew how to solve it in a lot of different ways!”

Adding a personal touch, Chip handed out paychecks and shook hands with his employees each week. This was another opportunity to listen. Chip’s perspective expects that anyone in a leadership role, whether in the corporate world or a non-profit one, must learn to be a good listener.

Chip follows in his mother’s footsteps. Nancy (née Hadrath) Hooley volunteered at Dunrovin from 1964 to 1989, including time as a Board member.

Stepping in as the Board treasurer in 2015, Chip was immediately indoctrinated into the workings of Dunrovin. Although it was somewhat a trial by fire, Chip maintains gratitude for a stormy start, a way to become familiar with who we serve. Perhaps it is God’s bittersweet timing that Chip’s final year on the Board occurs during our 60th anniversary. His legacy at Dunrovin predates our 1964 opening, and Chip offers much about our 60th year emphasis: Keeping the Dunrovin dream alive: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Speaking of yesterday, Chip speaks fondly of the Hadrath family’s ownership of the land Dunrovin sits on.

“I was just a young kid back then, but [I remember] the cold water in the swimming pool, going up the old driveway, playing cowboys and Indians behind a rock up by the highway. The real takeaway is the connection of the [Hooley-Hadrath*] family back then – family reunions and summer parties at the property. There are quite a few Hooleys around the area, so it was never a small party.”

Sharing in the nature and its serenity, spending time with family – these underlying core elements of a collective experience have not changed since the 1960s.

Hooley Family

This collective experience remains a constant today at Dunrovin. Retreat experiences connect people: the kids we serve, the retreat groups who come, and individuals staying in cabins. An underlying theme is the same for all. Every person comes to Dunrovin to retreat away from daily stress and busy lives. As the Hadrath family shared serenity, space for self, relationship with others in this space, so too our guests share. Together, we collectively grow in relationship with God.

DLITE team

Indeed, guests join this experience:

“An absolutely beautiful way to get reconnected with myself! The grounds are amazing, and the staff are hospitable! Spring is so wonderful here. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the seasons bring!”

Google review, May 18, 2023

Looking to the future, Chip begins with the past nine years. He takes pride in no particular accomplishment during his tenure. Rather, Chip expresses gratitude for the simple ability to continue to welcome Dunrovin’s guests, especially during adversities such as the pandemic.

“We came out on the other side and are in a good spot. We have a good foundation. We’re not in debt, and the mission and direction are sustainable. We can move ahead on solid terms. This is a collective accomplishment. When the Board did our strategic planning, we wanted to build a firm foundation. Our platform to talk about mission and who we serve is critical.”

Chiming in on the conversation, Executive Director Jerome Meeds returns to Chip’s skill of listening well. “[His listening was] very evident as he led as the Board chair over the years. One of the things our board did well under his leadership was moving from business meetings to mission discussions. We had a place for mission discussion at every board meeting.”

The Board of Directors take seriously their role to protect Dunrovin’s mission – to offer an encounter with Christ for every person. This mission builds connectedness, community, and leads to a feeling of belonging. Many guests say they feel “at home” at Dunrovin. We hope Chip always feels this sense of belonging and home at Dunrovin. Thank you, Chip, for your nine+ years of magnanimous and wise servant leadership at Dunrovin. For your inspiring and dedicated service, we gratefully name you the Brother I. Damian Award recipient of 2024.

* Dunrovin gratefully acknowledges R.M. & Stell Hadrath, who owned the property Dunrovin is on, selling it to the Christian Brothers in the 1950s to be developed into a retreat house for boys of the CB schools. Two Hadrath siblings married two Hooley siblings and a lifelong Hooley-Hadrath connection began, an Irish one to boot. Their gatherings remain full of life, love, and quite a bit of laughter.