Nonprofit executive Keith Vire plans to retire in December

by Paul Gatling ( 328 views 

The executive who oversees the Springdale-based nonprofit Arkansas Support Network is calling it a career.

Dr. Keith Vire, head of the ASN for 26 years, is planning to retire, effective at the end of December this year.

Vire, who will turn 67 on July 18, said there’s long been a succession plan in place for his retirement, and the time has finally come to follow the plan.

“I’ve always been sort of a logical and linear thinker, and for me, a plan has a beginning, a middle and an end,” he said. “And this just seemed like the right thing for the organization. I love my work, and at one point I thought I would never retire. But the person we have trained and ready to roll will not wait forever. She already has offers. This is the right time for the long-term stability of the organization.”

Vire’s deputy for a number of years, Dr. Syard Evans, will assume the CEO title on Jan. 1, 2018. She’ll oversee an organization that provides support and services to individuals and families with children with disabilities.

ASN supports between 1,500 and 1,700 individuals and families each year and has an annual budget of $26 million. Besides its Springdale headquarters, ASN also has offices in Fort Smith, Camden and Jonesboro, and will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018.

Keith Vire

Vire’s retirement will bring an end to a 42-year career of nonprofit work in the region. Before joining ASN, he headed up a small nonprofit in Rogers.

“It was called the Adult Development Center, and it was myself and one other person; we served about nine people,” Vire recalled.

Today, the nonprofit is known as Open Avenues, which provides life and work skills for adults with developmental disabilities.

Vire has served a number of organizations as a board member, and was appointed by three Arkansas governors to serve on numerous statewide boards. Earlier this year, he was presented with the prestigious Social Justice Award by the state affiliate of the Association on Higher Education and Disability.

“I said one time that I feel as called to do this work as I think any preacher is called to do the work they do,” Vire said. “The idea of being able to spend your life trying to make the world better for people with disabilities and people who are vulnerable has been a great life. I haven’t always been successful, but it would be hard to overestimate how good a feeling that is.”