Public service and servant leadership intersect for Malone graduates
Across the disciplines Malone graduates thrive in public service, and for Chris Nichols ’95 and Keith Hochadel ’04 that means shared service to the citizens of Canton Township by serving on the Canton Township Board of Trustees.
Hochadel, newly appointed trustee in January 2022, is a graduate of Malone’s clinical mental health counseling program and Nichols, serving as the Board’s vice president, returned home and transferred to Malone after deciding that a larger state institution wasn’t the right fit for him.
“My experiences as Malone’s Student Senate President, twice, and through living and learning in Washington D.C. with the American Studies Program have constantly helped me in advocating for people as well as integrating Christian values into the secular world of public service,” said Nichols. “The National Student Leadership Forum on Faith & Values in Washington D.C. also helped me make connections and navigate my way through the plethora of applicants every Congressional office gets for internships. The world is smaller than we think!”
Hochadel gained other education and life experience before enrolling at Malone, but knew that his graduate program would equip him for the professional steps he wanted to take next.
“Malone’s counseling program was a great fit for my professional development, the time commitment I could make, its reputation for quality instruction, its alignment with my faith,” he said. “And the Malone community was such a good match for me that I even enjoyed contributing as an adjunct faculty member for a number of years after I graduated.”
Both Pioneers have had longtime interest in public service and their backgrounds have shaped their leadership styles.
“When I was eight years old, my neighbor was elected as our State Representative and my mom was his campaign manager,” said Nichols. “He served our community for 12 years, so I’ve been around local politics my whole life. Canton Township is where I grew up and chose to raise my family. When I was dissatisfied with how things were being managed in the Township a number of years ago, I decided it was my turn to try to make things better. You can either sit back and complain or do something about it -- and then hope you leave the organization better than you found it. In my time on the Board, I believe we have improved the professionalism and operations of the Township, we have added to and improved our parks, added a community center, and initiated a number of community activities. I’d like to think that I bring the same attitude of servant leadership to the Township that I learned back in my days at Malone.”
As a fresh set of eyes on the Board, Hochadel places value in listening before problem-solving.
“Since 2005, when I was a member of the Stark County Drug and Alcohol Board, I’ve been interested in public service,” he said. “As a leader, I believe it's important to be involved and listen to what others are saying. Stark County runs smoothly when we find successful solutions as a team with the resources we have available. I plan to bring a listening ear and want to contribute to the teamwork not only on our board but also with elected officials, department heads, team members of Canton Township, and my peers. We have a great community and it’s important to me that we share opportunities to live, grow business, excel in schools, and worship as the community of Canton Township.
Also professionals in other industries, both Nichols and Hochadel apply their civic leadership to their workplaces as well.
“In my role as Director of Management and Budget for the Stark County Commissioners, I’m responsible for overseeing budgets of more than $260 million,” said Nichols. “I also serve as the Administrator of the Stark Council of Governments, where I facilitate opportunities for all local governments to communicate and work together so we can efficiently serve the residents of Stark County. My education has enhanced my career, not only because it provided me with the skills to perform my wide variety of duties but because my experiences in Malone classes, Student Senate, and the American Studies Program are the reasons I hold all the positions that I do today.”
Currently serving as the Executive Director of Men’s Challenge, Hochadel utilizes his counseling background to support and shape Stark County’s workforce.
“Men's Challenge is a faith-based job readiness program in Stark County, providing jobs skills training classes, coaching and mentoring, and workshops to help participants succeed in today’s job market,” he said. “Malone’s counseling program has equipped me to understand and provide counseling for those who have barriers to meeting their God-given potential. I’m grateful for the insight I now have into the behavioral health issues that our community deals with so that my colleagues and I can assist people in finding professional success.”