Shawn Saunders, CFRE
Rescue Mission Group Leader
Shawn began his career in the commercial for-profit sector, working successfully in sales and sales management roles. His life was forever changed, however, when he drove to Virginia to pick up a close family member who had fallen into substance abuse and homelessness. With no where else to turn, Shawn dropped him off at a Rescue Mission close to his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Little did he know how that experience would not only transform the life of his loved one–whose life turned around on account of his stay at the Rescue Mission–but Shawn’s as well. Shawn became involved at the Mission, first as a volunteer, but soon thereafter he was offered and accepted a full-time staff position as the Mission’s chief fundraiser with responsibility for raising millions of dollars to support the Missions annual budget in addition to a $4 million capital campaign, a role in which he thrived.
While working at the Rescue Mission, Shawn also founded a men’s addiction recovery network, which in 2010 he merged with a halfway house ministry. As a result of this merger, Shawn left his position at the Mission to serve as CEO of this fledgling ministry, which in four short years he grew into a comprehensive, innovative recovery organization serving 250 families hallmarked by a sustainable recovery farm. Starting as a ground-level start-up, Shawn generated close to $2 million in under four years by building a strong annual fund and major gifting effort, a collaborative in-kind model based on community development principles and an Acts 5 paradigm, and by incorporating a robust educational program that partnered with several universities and seminaries hosting two regional recovery conferences.
Shawn is a strategic thinker and communicator gifted in building and overseeing development and fundraising campaigns for faith-based organizations. Shawn’s former partners describe him as “…a creative thinker, someone who thinks outside the box. Shawn has the ability to carry out the current mission and look ahead and plan for the future… He sees relationships on a molecular level and is able to connect people’s interests to meaningful opportunities that advance the mission and vision of the organization.”
Shawn has a diverse vocational background making him versatile and well-rounded, but his heart for advancing the gospel has been his focus since he surrendered to vocational ministry at age 16. He received his Bachelors from bible college in 2004 and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Ministry and Master of Arts in Biblical Literature from Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, NC. Additionally, he has been a certified biblical counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors since 2008 which led him into recovery-based coaching and pastoral counseling. He is currently completing a unique recovery book and curriculum which is tentatively slated for publication in 2015.
Shawn lives in Raleigh, NC with his bride of fourteen years, Molly, and their two daughters, Grayson and Hadley. He enjoys reading, writing, landscaping, and being outdoors, especially when he has opportunity to return to his family hometown in the mountains of Virginia.