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CEO Council 2013

Chief Executive Officers from across the country met at Florida Baptist Children’s Homes recently to focus their considerable expertise to benefit our children. The group volunteered their time at the personal request of Dr. Jerry Haag. Several years ago, Dr. Haag had a vision of bringing together the best and brightest minds to help children. Dr. Haag believes that to “make a difference in the lives and eternities of children, it will mean bringing every resource and everyone to the table.”

Bill Simon, President & CEO of Walmart Stores U.S., shared with the group that even with the constant demands on his schedule, “every chance I get to be back in Florida, I take it, especially when invited by a good friend like Jerry.” Simon, who previously served in Governor Jeb Bush’s cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Management Services, challenged the group with the statement that “being average is terrible.” “No one wants an average doctor or pilot…average does not deliver the fulfillment we long for.”

Ed Crenshaw, CEO of Publix Super Markets, Inc. once again hosted this prestigious group. Ed and his wife, Denise, have a tremendous heart for children. They, along with Publix, have been outstanding supporters of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and the entire Florida community. Ed, at his request, will host the CEO Children’s Council in 2014.

Seven times New York Bestseller Don Yaeger, told the group that “greatness is attained by doing common things uncommonly well.” He challenged us to remember the basics and do them with excellence. Don knows quite a bit about excellence. He is a journalist, campaign strategist, government consultant, gifted writer, and renowned speaker. Don was also a member of an elite group that was mentored by UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Don and his wife Jeanette have established a fund with a percentage of his speaking revenue to help our foster children.

David Wilkins, Secretary of Florida Department of Children and Families, reminded us that faith-based programs provide help for 20% of the children in the state’s care and that Florida Baptist Children’s Homes is the gold standard in child care. David is a former Board member of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and was pivotal in the development of Orphan’s Heart.

Dr. Haag challenged the group during our roundtable discussion to “Pray Big” and “Dream Big” for our children. “Imagine with me a world where every child has food to eat, a safe place to sleep, and a family that loves them.” The executives provided innovative ideas that will shape our ministry now and in the future, but the entire group agreed that the highlight of our time together was interacting with our children, who were hosts at our opening dinner. Everyone left the council looking forward to next year’s gathering agreeing with Dr. Haag’s original vision for the group that “we can make a difference…together!”