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Request Speaker: Larry Probus

After spending many years working for a company whose business was whiskey, wine, china plates, and leather suitcases, Larry ended up in a leadership role at a Christian humanitarian organization. He talks about his experiences and his work to ensure that World Vision is a good steward.

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Larry Probus, chief operating officer, World Vision U.S.

Larry Probus, chief operating officer, World Vision U.S.

More About Larry

Larry’s Biography

A visit with Mother Teresa started Larry on a journey that took him from the corporate world to World Vision in 2003.

Larry’s primary responsibility today as CFO is to ensure World Vision is a good steward. He directs finance, information technology, legal, and corporate service functions. He has spoken to groups about his personal life, the economics of mission, and the stewardship of donors’ dollars.

He graduated magna cum laude from Western Kentucky University and is a certified public accountant. Larry spent 27 years in corporate finance and public accounting. He began his career at a Big 8 accounting firm, Coopers and Lybrand, and then worked 23 years for Brown-Forman Corporation, an international consumer products company whose leading brands included Jack Daniel’s, Lenox China, Gorham Silver, and Hartmann Luggage.

Recognized as 2009 CFO of the Year for non-profit organizations in Washington state, Larry is a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, a group of leaders from business, academia, and government who provide counsel to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

He also serves on the Standards Committee of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Probus is a Bingham Fellow, a graduate of Leadership Louisville, and a past member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

His career path included working as CFO for Lenox Collections, then a division of Brown-Forman. He served under Lenox President Rich Stearns, who is now president of World Vision. Larry at the time was growing as a new Christian. At their first meeting, Larry was impressed by Rich, a businessman with a Bible on his desk who talked about his faith.

Larry later headed up mergers and acquisition for Brown-Forman. The position required travel, including a lot of time in India. He says, “I was not prepared for what I saw during my first trip: people with terrible physical afflictions unknown to the West, children sleeping in cardboard boxes on the road.”

He wondered: Is there anything one person can do in a place where the need is so overwhelming?

On his next trip to India, he met Mother Teresa. He saw that one person, acting as a servant of God, can make a profound impact.

Mother Teresa said, “So, tell me why you’re in my country.” Larry recalls, “It was kind of a piercing question for me because the specific reason I was there on that trip was to set up distribution for Jack Daniel’s in India, and I was contrasting why I was there and why she was there. Well, that question kind of haunted me for a while. I thought and prayed about that a lot.”

He had a strong feeling that God wanted him where he was at the time, but had something else for him in the future. Ten years later, then a senior vice president of finance at Brown-Forman, he received a call from World Vision about their need for a CFO.

Larry encourages others to “really listen and actively solicit what God may be telling you.” He’s based at World Vision’s U.S. headquarters near Seattle.

Larry Probus, chief operating officer for World Vision U.S., in Vietnam.Larry’s Presentation Topic

Larry is available to speak on the topic of stewardship and operational excellence. Please contact the Speakers Bureau with any questions.