Covering Kentucky

Jan 4, 2014 3:21 PM

Sunrise Interim Head Is Eastern Ky. Native

LOUISVILLE (AP) - The interim president of a Baptist affiliated home for abused children says he is drawing on his own personal experiences to lead the state's largest private child care agency.

Dale Suttles took over as interim president during a turbulent time for Sunrise Children's Services. The agency's president, Bill Smithwick, resigned in December shortly after floating a proposal that the agency stop its practice of banning gay employees. Baptist leaders gathered at the Kentucky Baptist Convention in November issued a no confidence vote in Smithwick's leadership, prompting his departure.

Suttles, a native of Olive Hill in Carter County, has taken over for Smithwick while Sunrise's board of directors searches for a new full-time president.

After more than three weeks in the job, Suttles told The Independent, "I focus on the kids. I know if I don't keep my eye on the ball, then kids will suffer."

The Baptist Convention appointed Suttles to temporarily head the agency at a special called trustee meeting Nov. 26.

Suttles was officially introduced to the KBC's Mission Board, which promoted him from regional advancement director at the Danville campus to interim head at headquarters near Louisville.

Suttles and his wife have an adopted son, Matthew, who has been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome.

Suttles told the Western Recorder, a Kentucky Baptist news journal, they struggled at first to give the boy the type of care he needed in dealing with past abuse and developmental delays.

He said the types of personal obstacles he faced with his family are part of what brought him to Sunrise.

"I want to take this organization and I want to make it better because my Matthew is a Sunrise kid," he said.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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