Get to know our new President and CEO, Scurry Miller!
Children’s Home recently welcomed our new President and CEO all the way from Austin, Texas. His signature southern drawl may help you pick him out of a crowd, but he’s already right at home in Peoria and ready to bring his transformative servant leadership to support our youth and families, our staff, and our community of donors.
Tell us about yourself!
Well, hello there! I’m Richardson Scurry Miller — but everyone calls me Scurry.
Family is incredibly important to me – my mother, brother, and sisters live in Dallas and I enjoy spending time with them. I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life dedicated to social services and nonprofit work, with a focus on supporting vulnerable populations: homeless youth and families, people living with HIV, to name a few.
I’ve been with my partner for 20 years and we couldn’t be more excited to call Peoria our new home. The warm welcome we’ve received is second to none – I’ve never experienced this type of community welcome! From the community leaders to clerks at stores to baristas in the coffee shops, I’ve felt really cared for since arriving.
I really love people and I’m looking forward to meeting folks in Peoria and getting to know anyone and everyone around town.
What drew you to this position at Children’s Home?
The vast array of services that Children’s Home offers is so much in line with my background that it felt like a match made in heaven. I was impressed by the longevity of Children’s Home in the Peoria community: the history, the meaning, and the value. Above those, the legacy was, and is, incredibly important to me. I felt like I had the opportunity to join an organization where I could help carry on a legacy and work toward a future of social services that promotes innovative ways to work with youth and families.
The more I learned about the position and the agency, the more excited I became.
Tell us a little bit about your approach to leadership.
I’m a firm believer in servant leadership and in leading by example. I’ve experienced leaders I’ve thought very highly of and learned a lot from and I’ve also experienced leaders that I knew I didn’t want to become. I’ve learned equal amounts from both.
As a leader, you need to be level, balanced, and fair. It’s important to listen to the people who work with you and for you and to bring along young leaders in an organization so you can teach and mentor them. Leading an organization means always remembering the mission and making decisions that keep everything moving forward.
Why did you decide to get into the social services and nonprofit industry?
I began working in this business as a front-line worker in a treatment center for alcohol and drug rehabilitation. I started there because that was the life I knew.
I was a homeless, drug-addicted, runaway youth. Not something a lot of people would suspect me looking at me now. The headline of my life used to read, “Homeless Drug-Addicted Juvenile on the Street” and now it reads, “President and CEO of One of Illinois’ Largest Nonprofit Organizations.” I’ve experienced quite a transformation in my life.
But I stay in this business because of the youth that we work with. I want to work with those who are the toughest to help and who need us the most, which, lucky for me, is the mission at Children’s Home. I’m interested in helping that population because they are the youth who could end up in jail, on street corners, in psychiatric centers, and hospitals. And their families and caregivers need significant support and help, too. Intervention of people who cared is what spared me and saved my life.
I believe that we can help our community and our state look very different and make substantial changes and forward momentum in the way we provide care and support for at-risk youth.
What will you miss most about Austin? What are you looking forward to most about living in Peoria?
I’ll miss the Mexican food and the BBQ – the food there is so very authentic and for those of you who have been to Austin, you’ve likely been recommended to go to a specific restaurant. I’ll also miss the music and the hippie-vibe that has changed as the years have gone by. I will miss what I call the old Austin, “the drag,” in front of the university there – that area was so fun and lively.
I’m most excited that Peoria is a smaller city with a close-knit comfortable environment. You can tell it’s a more intimate community where everyone seems to know everyone or they are connected in some way. I couldn’t believe driving at 5 p.m. that I didn’t have a single stoplight and with hardly any traffic! What a dream!
It feels like a community I can make a difference with powerful and meaningful contributions. I can already tell it’s a community with an abundance of gratitude and service.
Have you uncovered any favorite Peoria spots yet? (Restaurants, activities, etc.?)
I absolutely love Grandview Drive. Right now, we live in Peoria Heights and have been exploring the great restaurants up and down Prospect. So far, I’ve been a big fan of every restaurant named after a person: Jim’s and Joe’s!
I’m really looking forward to seeing a Rivermen hockey game (we already have tickets) and concerts and shows at the Civic Center, the Riverfront Museum, you name it. I want to experience all the Peoria Area has to offer, so you will see me out and about.
What are some of your hobbies? Where can we find you on the weekends?
You can find me hiking and walking pretty much 365 days of the year – the cold does not bother me at all, it excites me. I’m an avid seeker of elevating my consciousness through yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices.
What inspires you?
Sunsets. Happy dogs. The simplicity and vulnerability of uninhibited play. As adults, we can become boxed in for what we “have to do” as grown-ups, it’s nice to open up the box and step out once in a while. I’m inspired by seeing the kids or youth I’ve worked with in their adulthood, the light in their eyes, the fullness in their face of maturity.
It’s very inspiring to see a team and organization come together. I love seeing people find their groove and their worth and power in their jobs and in what we do; I love witnessing them getting traction and seeing their value and worth – it’s easy to lose sight of sometimes so I love helping them rediscover what they love about this industry. That is truly what I live for.
What is one piece of advice you’d give yourself at age 10?
I’ve got a few pieces of advice I’d like to tell myself at that age:
To remember that it’s going to be alright. To remember that you’re loved. And that it’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t let life become dull or boring. Take charge because you only get to do this one time. You’ll always have what you need to live. Worry a little, but don’t worry a lot. The people in your life are most important – things and money will come and go, but who you are and the people in your life are what will mean the most to you – promise you that.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I’m very proud to join Children’s Home and I look forward to getting to know our wonderful community of supporters, donors, and sponsors who contribute in big ways to keep our agency moving forward. It’s an honor to join a mission 156 years deep and I know that together, we’ll continue to change the lives of the kids who will change the world.