School business manager strives to be a servant leader

| August 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit

Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit

Robley Evans

How do you apply your faith and Catholic values at work?

I’m probably part of the “Old Evangelization” where I try to lead by example. We are blessed at Saint Thomas Academy with daily Mass, so I try to attend as regularly as possible. At our all-school Masses, I sit with the students and participate in singing and responses. The young men can sing, but sometimes need some encouragement.

As part of administration, I try to be a servant leader, taking time to listen (can’t always fix the problem, but can always listen), answering questions so others can continue their jobs, and treating faculty, staff, parents and students fairly from a business perspective. I try to bring out a person’s gifts and skills versus criticizing their weaknesses, but I will encourage them when they want to learn and improve.

I have also been the financial aid administrator for the past 15 years. In helping families with financial aid or those having problems paying tuition, I try to treat everyone with dignity and respect, putting myself in their shoes, knowing it is not always easy for them to ask for help or to share their financial difficulties.

Please tell a story about a time when applying your faith at work really made a difference.

In working with families who are experiencing a financial hardship, we have sometimes extended payments so a student can stay in school. One particular mom worked very hard and continued to make payments for a number of years after her son graduated. The joy and pride she felt in that accomplishment was very touching, and it made me appreciate working for an organization that was willing to show Christ’s compassion when needed.

Who or what has been most inspirational to you in bringing your faith to the marketplace?

My parents had the most influence on me. My dad was a teacher, coach and then assistant headmaster and dean of students at St. John’s Prep School for 35 years. He worked hard and practiced his faith, both at home and work. I have had many former St. John’s faculty and students tell me how he influenced their lives. My mom was a caring nurse and CCD teacher, sharing her faith and teaching her children the values she grew up with.

My wife and children are my current inspiration. They continue to grow, deepen and live their faith beyond what I have taught them, and they continue to be a great example to me.

What achievement at work are you most proud of?

As business manager of a nonprofit, I believe I have gained the trust of faculty, board members, families and donors to use our limited resources fairly, and to balance tuition and donations with financial grants, salaries and expenses.

In what specific ways have you experienced God’s presence in your workplace?

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. The prayers and support I received from the Saint Thomas Academy, Visitation, and St. Michael communities was overwhelming.

This past year has been especially difficult, with the deaths of a number of individuals close to the school and others close to my family, including my brother. I thank God for the support I have received from co-workers at times like these, knowing that our hope is in the Lord and that we will be with him for eternity.


Age: 56

Organization: Saint Thomas Academy

Title: Business manager

Parish: St. Joseph in West St. Paul

Spouse: Joan

Children: Sister Mary Joseph (Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus), 31; Paul, 29; Theresa, 26; Martha, 23; Philip, 20; and Anna, 16

Volunteer activities: Parish finance council in various roles including chair and trustee, Twin Cities Natural Family Planning board, Archdiocesan marriage preparation program, host for National Evangelization Teams (NET Ministries) missionaries

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Category: Leading With Faith