As the leader of an organization that began in Harrisburg in 1885, John Griner has excelled at casting a vision and strengthening The Salvation Army’s legacy and reputation for more than 30 years.
Since taking over leadership of The Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital City Region in 2005, he has grown its operational budget from $700,000 to $5.2 million, while leading a capital campaign and building a new 38,000-square-foot headquarters.
However, a true testament to Griner’s authentic leadership was how he continued to lead Salvation Army Harrisburg through the COVID-19 crisis with incredible courage and compassion. After Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown on March 19, 2020, Griner reorganized his 107-person staff to a thread-bare, front-line “family” of seven, and focused entirely on Salvation Army Harrisburg’s most important stakeholder, the families and children in deep need.
When the choice food pantry, the largest in Dauphin County, had to close in-person shopping, Griner quickly adapted to a curbside model. In 2020, the food assists jumped to 659,759 and the points of service nearly doubled to 732,962. All delivered by a severely reduced team. In 2021, still under the crush of the pandemic, Griner led the Salvation Army in providing 730,039 food assists and 817,878 points of service. And as each new pandemic restriction increased the need for new services, Griner led Salvation Army Harrisburg in expanding its service footprint from four zip codes, to 44.
“We never missed a day of operating since the pandemic began,” says Jenny Gallagher-Blom, Program and Operations Director at TSA Harrisburg. “Major Griner has always shared that it is our goal to go out of business, so we work to provide support to teach and equip the families we serve toward greater self-sufficiency.”
Dedicated to this mission even during a pandemic, Griner launched “The Family Table” in April 2020 to offer free programs that teach and train participants how to prepare healthy and beneficial meals for themselves and others, in cost-effective ways.