May 31, 2016 | 3 p.m.
By Michelle Westlund, Senior Content Specialist
Chad Schwitters, a 1995 business graduate, has been named Bethel University’s 2016 Alumnus of the Year. Born and raised on a farm near Clara City, Minnesota, Schwitters long ago exchanged his rural roots for the big city as executive director of Urban Homeworks, a Minneapolis community development organization he’s led since 1999. The city-based nonprofit strives to perpetuate the hope of Jesus through innovative community development, living out core values that emphasize compassion, dignity, relationships, reconciliation, and biblical justice.
In his 17 years at Urban Homeworks, Schwitters has provided vision and inspiration. Within the organization, he gives direction to the leadership team, envisions new approaches to fund development strategies, and lays the foundation for organizational culture and mission. Outside its walls, he cultivates key stakeholder relationships and bolsters external partnerships, actively working with community leadership efforts that support and inform his organization’s work.
Fully committed to the community he serves, Schwitters and his family—including his wife Sheila (Knapper) ’95 and three children—live in North Minneapolis. “Chad personifies the concept of walking the walk,” says Erik Hansen, director of economic development and housing for the city of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. “He brings a difference to a community that not only needs help, but is also a community that he and his family call home.”
And that influence extends in a ripple effect from the city and outward, inspiring continuous hope and change. “I’ve known Chad since our days at Bethel,” says Troy Kopischke ’97, Bethel trustee and former Urban Homeworks board member. “I watched him take a struggling two-person nonprofit and grow it into one of the most beautiful and prominent organizations in Minneapolis, one that spreads the hope and love of Jesus to residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul and beyond. If you follow his story, and the story of the hundreds of families he’s helped over the years, you hear a love story, the beautiful story of Christ’s love acted out.”
Schwitters will be recognized during Homecoming events in October.