Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center hires new executive director
● By Steven Hoffman
David Keller has been named the new executive director of the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center. He is just the third person to serve in that role during the organization’s 47-year history.
Keller officially started the new position on July 23.
Rudy Allen, the chair of the Neighborhood Service Center’s board of directors, said that the board is eager to work with Keller as he leads a dedicated staff and group of volunteers to continue the center’s mission of serving the community.
Keller brings 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to the new position. His previous professional experiences include various levels of management for organizations in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Most recently, he served as the development officer for the Music School of Delaware. He also served as the interim executive director and development director for The Delaware Contemporary, and he was the executive director of the Smyrna Opera House in Smyrna, Del. for more than 5 years. During his tenure leading the Smyrna Opera House, an employee at the Delaware Division of the Arts noted that the Smyrna Opera House should “serve as a model for other arts organizations of its size.”
Keller said that he was really impressed by the dedication to the mission that he saw in the board members and the staff of the Neighborhood Services Center.
“Throughout the interview process, it was apparent that the board was passionate about Oxford, its people, and the center,” Keller explained. “It was clear that they understand the ‘why’ of the center—to provide a beacon of hope when all seems lost to those in need.”
Allen noted that there is as much need in the community as there has ever been.
Keller pointed out that 23 percent of the people in the Oxford area live below the poverty level.
“That’s a big number, especially when you’re talking about meeting basic needs,” he said.
One goal for Keller will be to make more people in the community aware of the Neighborhood Services Center’s vision.
Justin Hostetter, a member of the Neighborhood Services Center’s board, said that they were convinced during the interview process that Keller is an ideal person to accomplish that task. Keller will bring a high level of energy to the job, Hostetter said.
Keller follows Connie Winchester and Cheryl McConnell as the only leaders of the Neighborhood Services Center during its long history.
“It’s humbling,” Keller said. “They established, and then continued, a great program here. I have big shoes to fill. I look forward to working with the current board to make sure that everyone knows the Neighborhood Services Center’s mission and vision in the community.”
The Neighborhood Services Center offers help for local residents who might be struggling to meet their basic needs. The center also provides a centralized location where people have access to a variety of health and social services. The Neighborhood Services Center operates a food cupboard where canned goods and non-perishable items are donated by individuals, churches and community groups. Diapers, personal care items, household cleaning supplies and paper products are also available. The center’s staff also runs an information and referral program that assists individuals in accessing the many health and human services that are available. The center also provides space for community agencies so that they can provide direct assistance to residents in the southern part of the county.
Although Keller is new to Oxford, he said that there are many similarities between the small town and the one that he grew up in New Jersey.
There are also similarities between the work that the Neighborhood Services Center does with regard to helping people meet their basic needs and some of the work that his church did when he was growing up. Keller said that his parents helped him understand the importance of giving back to the community, and the work with the church was a very important part of that.
Keller said that he’s looking forward to meeting many people in the Oxford community, and he wants to make connections with many different groups. Part of his focus will be on branding and marketing the Neighborhood Services Center to clearly define its mission.
“I am extremely excited to get started and work with the board and staff to advance the mission of the center, and to help those who are experiencing hardship,” Keller said. “I look forward to getting out in Oxford to meet and engage with town officials, business owners, and friends of the center. Working in collaboration with others in this tight-knit community will be a key to our future success.”