The Village Network's new leader dedicated, excited to start

January 14, 2013

By LINDA HALL Staff Writer Daily Record Published: January 14, 2013

rg 250x188WOOSTER -- The new Village Network chief executive officer, Richard Graziano, has spent "hours and hours" with his predecessor, Jim Miller, driving to all the communities served by TVN and meeting with regional directors, other staff members, families and donors in each of them.

"We're not done yet," said Graziano, the former chief operating officer of Fellowship Health Resources, a $32-million mental health agency serving seven states.

Graziano is clear about the purpose of his and Miller's visits.

There is a lot of history in any organization, and a newcomer should know it, according to Graziano, who stressed, the person coming into an organization must "rely on the people who have made the organization as great as it is. That's what I'm doing now."

Miller, under contract for the calendar year as a consultant on an as-needed basis, and Graziano have hit 12 counties for day-long visits -- 7 a.m.-11 p.m. -- within the first month of his being hired.

"Jim (has been) very gracious in his time, expertise and knowledge, sharing that with Rich," said Lynn Moomaw, chairman of the TVN board. "Likewise, Rich has been very open about learning about The Village Network and using that institutional knowledge with respect before and as he develops new ideas and infuses new energy into it."

"Any time you come into a new community," Graziano said, "you have to respect that community and those values."

His dedication to mining all there is to know about TVN doesn't preclude looking ahead to the mark he wants to make.

"I think everyone has their own style," he said, referring to leadership, but symbolized by the office now devoid of Miller's belongings, including Ohio State University memorabilia, and filling up with items important to Graziano, which in a quick glance encompass pictures of his family and Yankees keepsakes. He and his wife, Mary, hail from Long Island, although they most recently lived in Dover, Delaware.

"It doesn't make one (style or the other) right or wrong," he said.

Graziano is preparing for the next step -- "looking at the organization and where you're going to take it."

He'll pay attention to structural issues, such as where TVN may be expanded, and service gaps, addressing those in locations already being served.

"These are the things you do to make a structure strong," he said.

Also on Graziano's plate is tying up some projects in progress or already approved for implementation -- the renovation of the administration building and "a couple of mergers and acquisitions (that are) under way."

Putting in place the state model for the Affordable Care Act will also be one of his challenges.

"We have lots of plans," he said. In fact, he has been "throw(ing) a lot of stuff out," gauging the interest of staff members about a variety of endeavors.

One of them is spearheading a major health and wellness program for staff and Village residents; another is taking the arts, including music therapy, to the next level.

"We're looking for partnerships," he said.

As Graziano explored a number of topics related to his new job, he came full circle to the youth served by TVN.

"Some of the best conversations I've had here (so far)," he said, took place in the gym.

One evening, he had the privilege of helping a young man begin to understand his mother's love for him.

"(These conversations) are some of the most touching and the most memorable," Graziano said.

His own love for children was one of the motivators for checking out this position after he was approached about it through TVN's national search.

That, and the fact that the community of Wooster appealed to him, prompted the thought, "I've got to look into this a little more."

"We really got a taste of Wooster with the family," he said, referring to Mary and their two children, R.J., 8, and Emma, 6.

"(The job) intrigued me even more when I saw the commitment of the board," Graziano said.

Through prayer and seeking a sign as an answer, Graziano gained assurance about making the move.

"I feel really lucky to be given this opportunity," he said, repeating his sense of good fortune. "I'm very honored by the opportunity I've been given here. I'm looking forward to doing great things with the (TVN) team."

"My aspiration is I'm going to put 110 percent into this," he said, planning a long-term tenure.

"It's important for me to be at a place where I respect the work (people are) doing," Graziano said.

Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at 330-264-1125, Ext. 2230, or lhall@the-daily-record.com.

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