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Guiding Light Promotes Brian Elve to Executive Director

Guiding Light has promoted Brian Elve to be its new executive director. 

Formerly the Recovery program director, Elve will lead a team of 26 and set the strategy and direction for the nonprofit organization in his new role. As executive director, he will be responsible for the operational effectiveness, financial stability, fundraising initiatives and the overall success of the organization.

Elve brings nearly 20 years of experience in addiction recovery programming, executive leadership, teaching and mentoring to his new role. Elve was integral in the creation and expansion of Guiding Light’s successful Recovery program. Over the past nine years, he helped develop and hone the effective long-term program that helps men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction build lives worth staying sober for as they recover and reengage with their families and communities.

Elve succeeds Stuart P. Ray, who left the organization in late 2021 after more than a dozen years with the organization and a career spanning nearly 50 years. Elve was named executive director after a nationwide search led by an independent firm.

“We are delighted for Brian to take on the role of executive director,” said John Harrington, Guiding Light’s Board chair. “Brian is well known in the recovery community and holds both high expectations and a big heart for Guiding Light’s team and mission.

“With his long-standing passion and commitment to the nonprofit and his demonstrated leadership, we’re assured Guiding Light is poised for continued success in this next chapter.”

Like many of Guiding Light’s team, Elve knows the differences between an effective recovery program and the revolving-door nature of others because he’s been there himself. Elve’s own struggles with addiction led him to Guiding Light in the early 2010s.

Not only did Elve come out the other side sober, but he secured employment with the organization. He was hired first as an employment counselor, then promoted to director of the very program that helped him reset his life’s compass.

While serving as director of the Recovery program, Elve managed operations of Guiding Light’s Iron House sober-living apartment buildings, lead large-scale events, training programs and professional development experiences, built stakeholder relationships and mentored several staff members, all while managing his own caseload of clients.

“I am honored by the opportunity to lead a Christ-centered organization that has been so impactful in my life,” Elve said. “I want to extend the life-changing opportunities Guiding Light provides through rescue, recovery and reengagement in the community.

“I look forward to collaborating with our team, board and community partners to take this organization to the next level.”

While skilled in creating innovative programming, Elve also is experienced in ontological coaching and leadership, which takes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable change for individuals, teams and organizations. Elve earned his Ontological Life Coach Training certificate from Accomplishment Coaching in 2016 and an Effective Leadership in Fundraising certificate from the Lilly School of Philanthropy in 2022.

Prior to joining Guiding Light’s team, Elve served as a high school teacher and coach in Grand Rapids, a regional sales manager and manufacturing representative across a five-state area and a professional basketball player through Athletes in Action.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Montana State University, and a teaching certificate for social studies and history from Grand Valley State University.

Over the past decade, Guiding Light has shifted from its roots as a traditional shelter to a program-based organization that walks alongside individuals to fulfill their God-given dignity and potential through rescue, recovery and reengagement in community. The nonprofit’s programs include:

• Recovery, an intensive drug and alcohol treatment program that combines evidence-based practices, life coaches, therapy, support groups, spiritual direction and resources to equip men to build lives worth staying sober for.

• Iron House, a sober-living community and Guiding Light social enterprise that provides a safe and secure environment with continuing support for men who complete the Foundations portion of Recovery.

• Back to Work, a program designed to support men who face significant barriers to finding and keeping full-time work by reducing debt, finding housing, securing transportation and overcoming other challenges as they search for and secure employment.  

Guiding Light has been recognized for its financial stewardship with multiple Platinum Seals of Transparency by GuideStar. The organization is also a member of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability. Its innovative advertising campaigns have been recognized with awards from the American Advertising Federation, Out of Home Advertising Association of America and the Telly Awards.


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