This story was originally featured in West Virginia Executive

Among thousands of nominees for the 2016 John C. Maxwell Leadership Award, Morgantown resident and Founder and Executive Director of Chestnut Mountain Ranch Steve Finn placed in the top three. On August 17, John Maxwell and members of his team honored Finn at the International Maxwell Training Event in Orlando, FL.

The John Maxwell Team is comprised of coaches, speakers and trainers who are commissioned with the responsibility of identifying the best and brightest leaders in the United States and Canada. This is the third consecutive year the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award has been presented, with the goal of recognizing those who are going above and beyond in their communities to positively impact the lives of others.

Finn, a former Atlanta police officer, saw firsthand the need for rehabilitative care for the troubled kids with whom he interacted on a daily basis. Finn and his wife, Dawn, spent three years as house parents at Eagle Ranch in Georgia. They used this ministry as a model for Chestnut Mountain Ranch in Morgantown, WV, which is now a 224-acre, multi-million-dollar ministry. Boys who come to the ranch are often from broken homes or on the verge of being expelled or dropping out of school. The ranch partners with families to pursue restoration and reunification, while providing a Christ-centered school and home geared at helping the boys develop spiritually, intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially.

Finn found out he had been nominated for the award via email from The Maxwell Team and was honored to make it to the Top 100. “I was blown away,” he says. “I thought that was the end.”

However, after numerous phone calls and intensive interviews with Maxwell and his team, Finn continued to climb to the Top 30, then the Top 10 and landed in the Final Three. “When they saw the community support and how the ranch has been built debt-free in one of the poorest states in the nation, I think they wondered, ‘How are you doing this?’” says Finn. “But we are doing this together. The teachers, house parents, counselors—we are working together, and I could see they recognized that. We are equipping people and building on the strengths of others.”

Since Chestnut Mountain Ranch’s inception in 2004, Finn has spoken in hundreds of venues, rallying thousands of volunteers and donors.


img_9847-002About the Author

Lauren Byrer is a freelance writer and copy editor from Morgantown, WV.

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