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Leading with Passion

Father. Husband. Friend. CEO. Evan Kleinhans wears all these hats on a daily basis. He wears all these hats with passion, pride, and with a servant’s heart.

In September, the Cape Fear Farm Credit Board of Directors tapped Evan as CEO for the organization. Evan has been with Cape Fear for eight years as the chief financial officer, and in that time, he has come to love the organization, customers, and the people who work at CFFC.

“It feels very humbling to become CEO. This is an organization that I have loved for a long time and it means so much to me to have the privilege to be able to serve alongside such talented people,” Evan shared.

Being selected to serve as CEO brought many emotions for Evan. While exciting, becoming CEO brings a great sense of responsibility that he keenly feels. Evan takes that responsibility seriously and plans to lead Cape Fear Farm Credit into the future with passion.

“We’re passionate about serving agriculture. We’re passionate about serving our rural communities. We’re passionate about serving one another,” Evan said.

Evan has learned that having passion for what you do not only helps you perform your job better, but it also helps you as a leader. To be passionate, you must first find what you’re passionate about. For Evan, that would be his biggest piece of advice to young leaders—find what you’re passionate about.

“My guidance to young leaders is to find what you love to do and then focus on building the skills and forming relationships to be great in your field. And that’s exactly what I’ve found at Farm Credit,” advises Evan.

His passion stems from working with the greatest customers in the world. Evan says that he loves being able to partner with agriculture producers in Southeastern North Carolina. He loves helping producers to feed, fuel, and clothe the world and assist them by providing capital and relationships to help them grow. He doesn’t have to do it alone, though. One of Evan’s favorite parts of being CEO is the people he gets to work with and serve. As a team, Cape Fear Farm Credit is dedicated to working together to serve agriculture and rural communities.

There is no doubt that Evan and the entire team at Cape Fear Farm Credit have a passion for agriculture and to serve it well. Although Evan didn’t grow up in agriculture, he knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his career in agriculture after his first day at Cape Fear Farm Credit. That was largely due to the culture and the customers.

“My first day out meeting customers and understanding our mission to serve agriculture—I was hooked!” Evan remembers.

Evan has found a career in agriculture, but he’s also found a purpose, passion, and a heart for agriculture. He’s always searched for a way to get to the farm.

“There’s a country song that says you either grew up on a farm or wish that you did. I’m in the category of wish that you did. That being said, I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for agriculture and I certainly have rural roots and have been connected to the industry for a long time,” said Evan.

For Evan, it takes more than passion for agriculture and customers to lead as the CEO of CFFC. It also takes a servant’s heart. Evan takes the quote “you cannot lead unless you serve” to heart. He lives by this as CEO and makes it his mission to serve agriculture, customers, and the team at CFFC. He also strives to serve in his personal life as a father, husband and friend.

Evan and his wife, Katie have been married for 10 years and together for 15. They met through mutual friends in college at ECU. Together, they have a five-year-old daughter, Emma Kate who started kindergarten this year. They also just added a new puppy named Tucker to the family. When asked about her husband, Katie said that Evan is a really great dad, a really good friend, is kind and caring, and is always there for his family and friends. Evan’s servant heart extends beyond his job. It’s just who he is.

Evan says that he strives to be the same person at home and at work. He explains that his family and faith guide and center him to serve. CEO Evan is one and the same as dad and husband Evan. The only difference between the two hats is one is an office hat, and the other hat is often worn outdoors.

When Evan isn’t wearing his CEO hat, you’ll probably find him outdoors. He loves to fish, hunt, explore, and ski. Evan also loves to spend time with his family whether it is at an ECU football game or just a quiet evening at home.

No matter the role Evan is playing or the hat he’s wearing, you can guarantee he’s doing it with passion, pride, and with a servant’s heart.

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