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Leadership team good news for Rogue Retreat

Rogue Retreat’s interim leadership team named last week should bring the struggling organization the stability it needs to continue its mission of providing shelter to homeless people and helping them move toward permanent housing.

The nonprofit organization is this region’s leading provider of services to homeless people. It has grown steadily, and now operates a supervised urban campground, a tiny house development, the Kelly Shelter and apartments converted from former motels.

But the organization faces financial challenges that threaten its future. Rogue Retreat’s founder and longtime executive director was forced out in August after complaints surfaced that he allowed the distribution of a gay conversion therapy pamphlet at a Medford church where he served as pastor.

It’s unclear whether the organization’s financial problems predated the controversy or if the controversy caused it to lose funding. But that is less important than the need to fix Rogue Retreat’s finances and get it back on solid footing.

Bill Ihle, who is serving as interim executive director, says there is “a sizable deficit.” In addition, the organization intentionally missed a recent deadline to apply for marijuana tax revenue because its finances were not in a condition to participate in the application process. Ihle said Rogue Retreat still doesn’t have an actual budget, and took a pass to avoid hampering other community organizations this time around.

Ihle brings solid credentials to the interim leadership job. He has been CEO and executive director of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Southern Oregon since 2017, a nonprofit now serving nine counties that helps people overcome financial management problems and repair their credit. Before that, he was executive vice president for global marketing and communications for Harry & David.

Ihle is joined on the new Rogue Retreat leadership team by others with extensive financial experience, including Kristi Schoenbachler, a certified public accountant who will be chief financial officer, and Angela Durant, principal planner for the city of Medford’s Housing and Community Development Department, who will oversee contract compliance.

The long-term goal of the new team is to hire a permanent executive director, conduct a financial audit and develop a clear picture of the organization’s financial challenges.

As Ihle says, “failure is not an option” for Rogue Retreat, and it is in the community’s interest for it to succeed. We wish the new team success in placing the organization on a solid foundation where it can continue to serve the community as long as it is needed.