Shawn Newhouse, new Executive Director of City on a Hill

For the first time since its founding in 2006, City on a Hill in Zeeland will have a new executive director.

The board of the ministry center in Zeeland has chosen Shawn Newhouse to replace Gary Ellens, the founding director who is retiring at the end of this year.

Newhouse, of Spring Lake, has a varied background of nonprofit and academic experience, most recently as head of people and culture at CURE International and as a vice president at Cornerstone University.

“The role of executive director at City on a Hill affords me an opportunity to serve in a manner that marries my passions and experiences while furthering the straightforward and transformational mission of City on a Hill,” said Newhouse, who holds a doctoral degree in business administration/marketing.

COAH Board Chair Henry Veenstra said the board chose Newhouse from among 77 applicants in a three-month search. He cited “her significant leadership skill, her wealth of experience, and her strong faith.”

“The board,” he added, “is excited that Dr. Newhouse will be the person to build on the solid foundation that Gary has laid for City on a Hill and will be able to help us make an even greater impact as a faith-based organization in the future.”

City on a Hill is a non-profit ministry formed in 2006 to transform the former Zeeland Hospital building into a center providing affordable and collaborative space for ministries. Today it houses 40 individual ministries and nonprofits that work locally, nationally, and globally.

In addition, City on a Hill itself operates four community service ministries. Those include the Health Clinic, providing free medical care to the uninsured or underinsured, and Doors of Hope, offering guidance to people in crisis, along with the Café community space and Leader Renewal retreat room.

Newhouse praised how Ellens, the board, staff, and volunteers have grown City on a Hill to become “an organization that helps nonprofits flourish and fulfill their God-given missions” as well as be a place offering resources to people in need.

“The individual stories of life change and transformation clearly demonstrate City on a Hill’s strength and value to the communities served,” she said. Newhouse begins her duties Jan. 2.

“I look forward to meeting and engaging with community stakeholders who have been instrumental in making City on a Hill Ministries what it is today,” Newhouse added.

“I’m also excited to see where the Lord will lead the organization in the future as we seek to meet real needs in the community and support the ministries housed in COAH’s facilities.”

Even before City on a Hill opened, Ellens was a consultant to the team that formed the ministry.

“We have been blessed by the leadership of Gary Ellens as he has grown City on a Hill Ministries from an idea into a solid ministry impacting many people in this area and around the world,” Veenstra said. “Over the past 16 years, Gary has been instrumental in building an organization that is both successful and sustainable.”