Dave Irvin is taking a strategic approach to supporting programs, developing staff and hiring new employees with his promotion to vice president of human resources and administration at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge.

Irvin said he is enjoying shifting his team’s focus to more than tactical functions at the nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment program, which is based in Minneapolis and has 11 locations in Minnesota.

“Everybody is re-energized by an opportunity to get involved in a different way,” Irvin said. “When you can move your time spent into the strategic, it becomes more valuable both for you as an individual but certainly for the recipients of that work.”

Irvin was managing director of human resources at the Toro Co. for 25 years after working in human resources at the former Musicland Group. But Irvin had to leave Toro in 2010, he said, after developing an addiction.

Irvin was working in another field when a former Toro colleague asked if he could recommend candidates for director of human resources at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge (MnTC). Irvin, who loved human resources but thought he wouldn’t have another opportunity in it, took an interest in the job himself.

“I knew that this was likely a calling and to me it was a calling from God,” Irvin said.

MnTC leaders “didn’t even flinch” during his interview, Irvin said, when he explained why he had been out of human resources for several years. MnTC hired Irvin as director of human resources in October 2017 and promoted him to his current role at the end of 2018.

Thirty percent of MnTC’s clients come directly from incarceration, Irvin said. The others typically are dealing with a long-term addiction.

“To be a part of offering these people a new chance, a new outlook on life is literally a blessing,” Irvin said.

Q: What do you love about working in human resources?

A: Getting the right people onto your bus, putting them in the right seat, helping them to be excited about the opportunity to be on that team and continue to develop their careers, that makes for a great company and a great environment and a growing opportunity not only for the business but for the people in it. When a human resource staff understands that their role is to help the leaders build their team so that they can accomplish their objectives, it really is fun.

Q: What differentiates MnTC’s treatment approach?

A: We’re a Christian organization. Everybody that suffers from addiction and goes through treatment is going to continue to have challenges and temptations in front of them the rest of their life. To be able to fall back on a belief in God and the faith that we helped them build within themselves in God is simply different than going through treatment and not knowing where to turn when you have a temptation in your future.

Q: How does your nonprofit experience at MnTC compare to working at for-profit firms?

A: This is the first nonprofit that I’ve worked at. It truly is different in the way that everybody comes together regardless of what function you’re in for the purpose of benefiting our clients. It is a joy to be in an environment like this.


Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.