New ICCF President Possesses ‘Wealth of Experience’

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

ICCF235Ryan VerWys said he plans to do much learning and listening his first 90 days as ICCF’s president.Starting Sept. 4, Ryan VerWys assumes the leadership helm of Inner City Christian Federation, Michigan's oldest nonprofit affordable housing provider. He succeeds longtime president/CEO Jonathan Bradford, who will retire after serving 34 years in the position.

VerWys said he intends to be quick to listen and slow to speak during his first 90 days in his new job.

"Let's be honest, I recognize no one could replace Jonathan Bradford," VerWys said. "I'm not coming into a situation where it's a crisis. Things are going really well here. The best thing I can do is a lot of learning and a lot of listening."

The 37-year-old VerWys is the son of a Reformed Church in America minister. He has been married for 15 years to his wife Rachel. The couple has four children ranging in ages from 3 to 9 years.

Maximizing transformation

"I feel a call to advancing God's Kingdom, particularly to advancing shalom in communities," VerWys said. "I was created for this position. ICCF does not see people as objects of charity but works with them. We provide folks with the know-how to maximize their own transformation."

ICCF board president Ted Cox said VerWys is a hand-in-glove fit.

"His wealth of experience and demonstrated leadership in serving vulnerable neighbors will help ICCF move forward in its mission to ensure access to affordable housing opportunities and services that encourage family responsibility and independence thereby helping to build stable communities," Cox said.

VerWys' most recent stint was director of operations for the Christian Reformed Home Missions, a position he held for a year starting in June 2014.

ICCF2235Since 2007, ICCF’s corporate offices have been housed in a neoclassical-style building that formerly was the D.A. Blodgett Home For Children.Prior to relocating to West Michigan, VerWys served as the founding executive director of Kingdom Causes in Bellflower, Calif., an organization that addressed homelessness, created affordable housing, provided employment-training, and encouraged neighborhood development.

As president/CEO of ICCF, VerWys will lead a team of 40 staff members in housing development, construction, property management, housing education and counseling and finance.

Together they will continue to serve households across Western Michigan with emergency shelter, rental and home ownership opportunities and a broad array of housing and life skill learning opportunities.

"I don't plan on bringing a bunch of changes but instead, continuing the momentum ICCF already has, and coming alongside and learning and supporting a great team that's here," VerWys said. "We can't pay the staff what the market can pay. The people who work here are connecting to a cause."

It all started 41 years ago

ICCF was founded in the Grand Rapids area in 1974 in a donated home that Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church renovated. Its corporate offices moved to its current location at 920 Cherry St. SE in 2007, which is a neoclassical-style building that formerly was the D.A. Blodgett Home For Children that opened in 1908 to care for orphans.

ICCF serves more than 2,200 low- and moderate- income families annually through its programs and services. Its programs include Family Haven emergency housing located at 701 Prospect SE, 168 units of affordable rental housing, newly constructed homes for purchase, home ownership education and financial counseling. All services are provided in Spanish and English.

For more information, call ICCF at (616) 336-9333 or go to
Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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