Richard Lance served as NBA President from 1982 to 1996, succeeding William T. Gibble upon his retirement. “Reflecting later on the rapid growth of NBA in 1971-82, Bill Gibble observed, ‘I think the time was ripe for a stronger-oriented management administration, which we have in Rick Lance.'” (Inasmuch, p130.)
A career U.S. Air Force officer, Lance retired in 1974 from his post as Deputy Director of Intelligence Estimates at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters in Omaha, NE. Upon returning to civilian life, Lance was appointed Executive Director of Child Saving Institute (1974-77) and later served as Executive Director of Kansas Christian Home (1977-1982). This made him the first NBA chief administrator since co-founder Fannie Shedd Ayars to have had previous experience operating an NBA program. Lance was also the first layperson to be full-time president of the NBA. He was active in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the congregational, regional, and general levels.
Under Lance, NBA centralized and streamlined its administration, “structuring its national staff and its field responsibilities to correspond to the major service functions of the total NBA operation.” (Inasmuch, p132.) NBA moved further into the owner/operator and fee for services model, laying the groundwork for further expansion into larger communities such as Foxwood Springs, Robin Run, Cypress Village, and Village at Skyline. By 1988, Lance had led the NBA to be recognized by The Non-Profit Times as one of the top charities in the United States. In his 14 years as NBA President, he led NBA growth from 42 to 82 care-giving facilities across the United States, and assets increased from $78 million to $305 million.
“Rick was not a corner-office president,” says Leon Whitney, former NBA CFO during Lance’s tenure. “He cared about the people we were serving, as well as the local and nationwide staff who were helping him get the job done. He made us dream big, then plan big. He stretched us and made us grow.”
Lance died on April 21, 2016. Read the In Memoriam NBA shared, with more about Lance’s career of service and reflections from NBA and Disciples colleagues.