Ivan H. Scheier, Ph. D., began forging a path in volunteer management in the 1960’s and was constantly looking toward the future. He entered the nonprofit sector by coordinating volunteers in juvenile court system programs after working as a court psychologist in the juvenile probation department of Boulder County, Colo. He then helped found The National Information Center on Volunteers in Courts in 1967, which later changed its name to the National Information Center on Volunteerism. After multiple name changes and mergers, the original organization was known as The National Volunteer Center before merging with the Points of Light Foundation in 1991.
In 1972, Ivan Scheier and Marlene Wilson founded the Volunteer Program at Colorado University in Boulder in 1972. The program trained several thousand volunteer directors throughout its 25 years. Marlene served as the spark and faculty director with Ivan providing training through most of its remarkable existence.
Ivan became widely known for his professional consulting with volunteer programs and citizen participation efforts in the US and Canada. He served on commissions for the White House Conference on Children and Youth, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals and the National Forum on Volunteerism. He conducted hundreds of workshops and wrote or published over 100 pamphlets and articles. He was an inspirational trainer, known especially for his “Challenge Think Tanks” – retreats for advanced volunteer managers that were held sporadically around North America. He trained or consulted on every continent.
He opened and directed Voluntas: The Center for Creative Community, a retreat residence to nurture volunteerism in Madrid, New Mexico. After Voluntas closed in 1996 Scheier worked at STILLPOINTS health retreat center.
Ivan is also regarded as the grandfather of organizations known as DOVIA's (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies”), "DOV's" "Associations," " Councils," or "Clusters." These informal peer groups quickly developed at the local or regional level to provide a place for leaders of volunteer engagement to network with each other and enhance the profession of volunteer management. Ivan supported these groups through his “DOVIA Exchange” writings, and many of them still exist today.
In 2000, Ivan introduced us to the role of the "Dream Catcher." His book, Making Dreams Come True without Money, Might or Miracles: A Guide for Dream-Chasers and Dream Catchers, explored how volunteer managers could cultivate volunteers to their fullest potential. "My Dream-Catcher is a person, not a device. He or she takes up the task of helping people achieve their dreams, where 'dream' means a goal, a purpose, a cause or a vision (more in the purposive than the mystic sense)," wrote Scheier.
Before his death, Ivan donated his writings to Regis University where they were digitized and compiled into “The New Volunteerism Project: the Archival Collection of Ivan Henry Scheier”. When the Ellis Archive was created in 2021, Regis University granted permission for Ivan’s Collection to be added where it is now widely accessible.
Regis University is also home to the Voluntas Time Capsule on Volunteerism. The capsule project began in 1990 and Scheier was the principle organizer. It was sealed on Sept. 20, 2001, stored in Dayton Memorial Library at the university, and will be opened Thanksgiving Day 2050.
Scheier wrote "I will be 124 years old at that time and no doubt slowing down a bit (actually, probably completely). But as a long-dead busybody, let me make a few suggestions for 2005-2050.”
Those who knew Ivan remember him as a cutting-edge thinker, a visionary, and a humble poetic soul who lived simply and cared deeply about the future of volunteering.
(Bio Sources: Regis Univ. Collection of Ivan Scheier’s Writing, the Nonprofit Times article at the time of his death, and Susan’s “In Memorium” article in E-volunteerism)
"He was completely devoted to the concept of volunteering…I always felt as though he was 10 years ahead of everyone else!"
-- Susan J. Ellis