For all the multilayered financial deals Brian Hollenback, 56, grapples with as president of Renaissance Rock Island, you might think he studied business or finance in college or is an accountant.

But no. Although the Moline native is a member of the Illinois CPA Society, his training in finance occurred on the job, doing the actual work or attending continuing education classes.

After graduating from high school in 1977, he spent 14 years in mortgage banking in the South and the West. Along the way, he earned a degree in biblical studies at Logos College, St. Augustine, Fla. 

He returned to the Quad-Cities in 1995 to work for Project Now.

His association with Growth began one evening when he was at the Martin Luther King Center to receive an award and happened to be sitting next to Dan Carmody, the now-legendary former president of Renaissance Rock Island.

"He leaned over and said, 'I need to talk to you.'"

Hollenback's work has been recognized, both personally and professionally. In 2002, for example, he received an award from the Rock Island Preservation Society for his hands-on renovation of a rundown Queen-Anne style home. He also has been selected as a Community Hero by the Community Caring Conference and as Rock Island Citizen of the Year.

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And the recognition extends beyond the Quad-Cities.

In 2015, he received an award from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, a citation that "celebrates a true community development pioneer who tirelessly devotes his time, talents and energy to make Rock Island a better place for everyone."

Specifically, the award cited "substantial" achievements, including: triple-digit increases in organizational net worth and income, a successful New Markets Tax Credit transaction, more than $46 million invested in housing, the creation and/or retention of over 2,000 jobs, and an overall economic impact of $233 million."

He donated his $10,000 prize to eight charities.

Hollenback grew up in a faith-filled household — his father, Jack, was pastor of Central Baptist Church in Moline and longtime chaplain for the Moline Fire Department — and, yes, faith still informs his life.

"We want to know that we leave the world a better place," he said during an interview in his office in the McKesson Lofts. "That comes to the core of what spirituality and Christianity is about and realizing you can't do it yourself. That is how I start every day, with prayer and meditation, asking for guidance and strength to have discernment."

In his free time, he enjoys boating, riding his Harley motorcycle, listening to music, playing the keyboard and traveling. At Christmas, he sponsors a Toys for Tots program.

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