All of us at Fervor are humbled to serve impactful clients each day — and we love to introduce them. Meet Jim Subers, CEO of Shelterwood Academy.
At Shelterwood, Jim is: the CEO, leading the executive team and stewarding the therapeutic boarding school towards new heights. “When I first arrived at Shelterwood five and a half years ago, my focus was internal, and my first hire was Executive Director Rujon Morrison to help revamp and strengthen our treatment model. We have successfully built one of the finest teams in residential care, and we’re confident in our treatment model, programming, systems and structures,” he says. “I enjoy the strategy, planning and vision necessary to continue serving families well.”
About the organization: Shelterwood is a residential boarding school for struggling teens. “Usually Mom and Dad come to us during some of the worst days of their life,” Jim says. “Our hope is that graduation from Shelterwood will be one of the best days.” Jim leads a team of nearly 100, including the young adult mentors who live in community with the teens.
Shelterwood distinctives: Shelterwood’s unique model features three key differentiators. First, teens experience excellent academics at the accredited on-campus school. Then, there’s the focus on clinical theology — counseling excellence paired with spiritual truth for real heart change. Finally, teens grow through the residential life-on-life discipleship of young adult mentors. “The unconditional love teens experience here proves to be a major catalyst for change in their lives,” Jim says.
Launching his career: Jim graduated from the University of Florida with honors and a degree in business management. Florida fans may recognize Jim from his time on the football field — he was an offensive guard for the Gators. He spent a few years in campus ministry and then, alongside his wife Janice, served as a missionary in Tokyo, Japan. Upon returning to the United States, Jim continued his studies at Fuller Seminary. He then continued his career in international business, as a leader in both the commercial real estate and oil and gas industries.
The Kanakuk connection: In 1995, Joe White of Kanakuk Kamps asked Jim to run his nonprofit Christian sports camp serving urban kids, Kids Across America. Jim and his family relocated to Branson, Missouri, to lead the organization. “I loved the impact Kids Across America was having on the lives of kids from urban communities,” Jim says. “I loved the job, and got to meet phenomenal leaders from across the country.” During that time, Jim and Janice had their third son, Jake, who was diagnosed with autism. To get Jake the care he needed, they moved from Branson to Kansas City. Jim went on to lead a number of organizations, including a megachurch in Kansas City, an audio Bible manufacturing and distribution nonprofit, and a nationwide prison ministry in Dallas.
What brought him to Shelterwood: In 2010, the Shelterwood Board Chairman reached out to Jim after Joe White recommended him for the CEO role. Initially, Jim prayed about the opportunity but turned it down so his one of his children could complete high school in Texas. A few months later, Jim’s son came to him with a change of direction. “He said, ‘Dad, this will surprise you, but I don’t want to go back to high school, and I don’t want to continue football. I want to be homeschooled.’ My initial reaction was surprise, but perhaps God was preparing his heart for a move.” With the position still available, Jim accepted the role and moved back to Kansas City. Today, Jim, Janice and Jake live in a home on the Shelterwood campus.
Family: Jim and Janice are college sweethearts and recently celebrated 37 years of marriage. “She’s just remarkable,” Jim smiles. “One of the great things about this role at Shelterwood is that Janice is actively involved in the ministry with me.” Together, they have four children — Joy, Jason, Jake and John — as well as six grandchildren. “Even though we may be separated by long distance, we work hard to see family as much as we can.”
Outside Shelterwood: Jim and his son Jake share a love for the Florida Gators. So when he’s not working, you’ll find Jim alongside Jake, cheering for their favorite team. “Since he’s an avid fan, he and I typically attend a few football, basketball and baseball games each year. It’s something we really like to do together.”
A community he loves: Jim treasures the community he shares at Shelterwood. “I’ve run a lot of organizations over the course of my life, and this is 24/7 work, really an around-the-clock intense work environment. But probably more than any other organization I have worked for, I am working alongside friends,” Jim says. “From Board members to the staff, it’s a huge blessing to work with people I call true friends.”
Favorite restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory will always have special meaning for Jim. “After living in Japan for years, it was a real contrast to eat at the Cheesecake Factory when we moved back to Los Angeles,” Jim smiles. “The portion sizes for two-to-three times the size of what I’d been served in Japan. I was in heaven.”
Favorite reads: Jim’s favorites include Christian authors Mark Batterson, Tim Keller and John Eldridge. “Their writings have been very influential in my life,” he says. Jim also enjoys reading the occasional thriller, particularly those with a good narrative.
What his Shelterwood work has taught him: “In my younger days, I had this idea that the impact of my life and ministry could be measured by numbers, and the bigger number of people, the better,” Jim says. But at Shelterwood, God emphasized a valuable lesson: ministry isn’t a numbers game. “The struggles one person has can impact so many people. But conversely, the healing and health of one person can also impact so many people. God has reinforced how important each one of these kids are, each one of the families are. If we can be part of bringing healthy change to these kids’ lives, it will touch so many.”