Ken Brissa joins Phoenix Rescue Mission as an accomplished nonprofit and for-profit senior executive with more than 25 years of executive leadership, fundraising, board development, budget and program management, organizational strategy, and continuous improvement experience.
He has a proven record of success as a leader, inspiring and developing high performing teams, cultivating relationships, managing staff and volunteers, building impactful community and constituent relations, and driving effective local and national collaboration.
Q&A with Ken Brissa
What ties do you have to Phoenix? Why does serving at a local ministry in this particular city excite you?
After spending our entire lives in the Chicagoland area my wife and I were ready to say goodbye to winter. I traveled to Phoenix three or four times for work in my late twenties and loved everything about it so we knew it was a matter of when and not if we’d someday move to the Valley. We moved to Phoenix in 2006 and we’re incredibly blessed that our three children and two grandchildren all live here as well and are close-by.
Serving and working at a local ministry in Phoenix is something God has been putting on my heart for some time. I knew He wanted me to take my professional experiences and successes and bring them to an organization where I could help grow His kingdom.
Are there any particular passions or key values you bring to the table?
I believe the foundation of a successful organization is collaboration – getting the right people involved in the right things at the right time. This not only leads to better outcomes but builds better understanding, buy-in, trust and commitment to the organization and its mission.
I believe as a leader in this role it is my responsibility to remove obstacles that are preventing our staff and volunteers from being successful, to identify each person’s unique abilities to effectively contribute, and ultimately to help the people on my team grow. This means they significantly grow professionally, personally and spiritually under my guidance and so much so that they are promotable either within our organization or another. While it would be unfortunate for us if they move on to another organization, we would have had the benefit of their talent and the outcomes they helped create while they were here.
What are a few things that drew you to the CEO position at PRM?
Most importantly the thing that drew me to the CEO role at PRM was the opportunity to be both an operational and a spiritual leader. This is something God has called me to do in this season of my life. When I read the position description for the first time I told my wife, “You have to read this!” It was as if God wrote a personalized account of the role He was holding for me.
The opportunity and ability to quite literally save both earthly and eternal lives is a responsibility I nor the staff and volunteers at Phoenix Rescue Mission take lightly. The people that I’ve met so far are talented, anointed, passionate professionals and children of God. I’m blessed and looking forward to working side-by-side with them.
What are a few things that are happening at PRM that excite you?
There are so many things that excite me. One being the way in which PRM serves its clients and offers programs that focus on healing the total person that help truly transform their lives. From recovery to vocational development, counseling and mentoring, and all services in-between Phoenix Rescue Mission truly offers a hand-up, not a hand-out.
I’m excited to be part of the construction of the new building and expansion of the Transforming Lives Center for Men. We are at capacity today and more men in the Valley need our services and need to know God. This expansion will allow us to touch more lives and significantly increase the impact PRM makes in these men and our community.
Do you have a vision for Phoenix Rescue Mission’s future?
My personal vision for PRM’s future is in lockstep with that of the organization – to transform lives while transforming our city. We’ll continue to work with partner organizations to fulfill this vision while building new partnerships and relationships to grow our impact.
What is the story of your spiritual walk?
Knowing Christ has led me to this role – He has placed every experience, no matter how small or significant, in my path for a time such as this.
I grew up believing in God and knowing that Jesus Christ was my savior, but I did not have a relationship with Jesus. I recited prayers, more than usual when something bad like a family illness or national tragedy was going on, attended church on Sunday, etc. It wasn’t until we finally accepted one of many invitations from some dear friends to join their family at their church that I truly began to know Christ.
I had never experienced an evangelical, non-denominational worship and message service. During worship that first time I was so uncomfortable and wondered to myself, “Why in the world are these people singing, jumping and raising their hands in the air?” I thought, “This is not for me!” Then the pastor started his message. I told my wife later that afternoon that I felt bad for the other 200 people in the room because the pastor was talking directly to me. We started serving in the church, joined and later led Small Groups and grew our relationship with Christ. Fast forward to the present I am on the board of my home church in Scottsdale and I was a guest speaker and delivered my first message there in October 2019.
Is there anything you enjoy doing here in Arizona?
Hiking Camelback Mountain and walking around Chaparral Park are two favorites. We need to make it a priority to discover new hiking trails.
Favorite sports and teams?
My favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears with the Diamondbacks and Cardinals a close second. I like watching football most and love playing baseball and golf. It’s strange though to love golf as much as I do and be as bad at it as I am.