[Hays, KS, November 30, 2022] Faith and family have always provided a solid foundation for Mason Ruder while growing up in Hays.
That foundation got even stronger earlier this month when his alma mater greeted him back with open arms.
Ruder, a 2010 graduate of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, has been named the new director of institutional advancement for Hays Catholic Schools (HCS).
Ruder will take over that position on Dec. 12, but he already feels quite at home with HCS, which is comprised of Holy Family Elementary School and Thomas More Prep-Marian, where he was heavily involved in activities during his high school years.
“I am really excited about getting on board. This is a way of being able to actively help my community, my school, my family,” said Ruder, a member of the Hays City Commission who currently is serving as the city’s mayor.
Chad Meitner, principal at TMP-Marian, is impressed with Ruder’s leadership roles in the community. Ruder also has experience as a manager at local restaurants and as environmental services director for Ellis County.
"As an alumnus, a key figure in the Hays community and a man of faith, I am beyond excited to work with Mason Ruder," Meitner said. "His leadership style is a great fit for the Advancement Office and will definitely help progress the mission of Hays Catholic Schools."
Like all successful leaders, Ruder did his homework. He reached out to Jeff Brull and Troy Ruda, HCS’ past two advancement directors and both TMP-Marian alumni, for direction while pursuing the job.
“They both gave me some guidance that I think will help a lot,” he said. “I have faith that my connection with the local Catholic community and relationships I’ve built in my various careers will be a huge asset for Hays Catholic Schools.”
Ruder said he felt a tinge of nostalgia during his interview and tour of facilities as he walked the halls of the historical TMP-M building that opened as St. Joseph Military Academy back in 1908.
As advancement director, Ruder will be responsible for the direction and leadership of all advancement efforts for Hays Catholic Schools.
“I’m really looking forward to getting in there and talk with my team and start this unified mission,” he said. In addition to Meitner, the HCS team includes Rachel Wentling, principal at Holy Family Elementary, and Geoff Andrews, superintendent for the Catholic schools of the Salina Diocese and diocesan designate for TMP-Marian.
It’s another return to his roots for Ruder, who moved back to Hays from Kansas City in 2015 to start his own family. Hays is home to a large family base for Ruder, including his parents, his grandparents, his brother and family and numerous other relatives.
Hays is where Ruder and his wife, Tori, want to raise their two young daughters, 3-year-old Ryleigh and 1-year-old Isabelle. Hays is where he has been a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish except for his stint in Kansas City.
“Hays is home,” Ruder said. “This job is what I feel I have been preparing for all my life, and I truly think it will be life-changing.”