Throughout the course of interviews, we’ve asked many finalists the question, “What’s on your wish list for the organization you support?” We weren’t expecting the answer we got from Justin Hayes, a candidate for ELEVATE Board Member of the Year.
“I don’t feel as though I’ve left anything on the table that I wanted to get done.”
Hayes was only 26-years-old when he began his service as a board member for AYS, Inc., which specializes in providing high-quality, educational and safe programs for children outside of school hours. This year he is completing his third, 3-year term, which by bylaws mandate that he must step down for at least a year. But for now, Hayes (and we imagine the entire AYS, Inc. staff and board) are riding a high off the recent announcement that they secured a $7.5 million dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish an endowment and support strategic initiatives to continue the AYS mission.
Working with the staff to secure the grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and leading the finance committee in establishing an endowment for the organization serve as the pinnacle of Justin’s many other accomplishments at AYS. Hayes has served as board treasurer since 2011 and has been instrumental in helping create a financial sustainability vision for the organization. Through his leadership, the board established its first investment policy and strategy that helped forge a path toward sustainability. Hayes dedicated hours assessing AYS billing processes and made recommendations that helped establish a metric for bad debt expense to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Hayes operates from a family mantra he says stuck with him through the years: “No matter what you have or where you are in life, there is always something to give.” Today, he works as Assurance Director at national CPA firm, Katz Sapper & Miller. Of his employer, Hayes says he appreciates the emphasis on community partnerships and support given to employees to “get out, be active in Central Indiana and volunteer time.”
It was a KSM partner who first brought the idea of serving on the AYS board to Hayes nine years ago. Their story is somewhat serendipitous; for Hayes, “AYS needed the help I could give them, at the time I was ready to give.” This type of skills-based volunteering was perfectly suited for someone like Justin who jokes, “I’m not so good with other people’s kids, but accounting, I can do.”
AYS, Inc. President and CEO, Chrystal Struben and nominator for this ELEVATE Award shared about him, “[Justin] is an outspoken member of our board who is not afraid to ask the tough questions and challenge the organization to be its best.” But this role is something Justin grew into over time, and recalls being somewhat terrified to speak up during the first twelve months of his service. When asked the secret to gaining the respect of fellow board members, he said, “Be humble and respect the service and experience of everyone in the room. Everybody can teach you something; from the seasoned volunteer to the new hire. Be willing to learn.”
Justin Hayes put it all on the table for AYS, Inc. and left quite an impression in the process. We congratulate him on his nomination for this ELEVATE Award!