An Important Announcement from Harmel Co-Founders Ryan Pohl and Brian Black

Dear Friends of Harmel Academy,

As Co-Founder and President of Harmel Academy’s Board of Trustees, I want to share news with you about some leadership changes at Harmel Academy of the Trades. After seven years of dedication and work, the last three of which in a full-time capacity, our founding President, Brian Black is stepping down from his role, effective June 2023.

Simply put, Harmel Academy exists because of Brian’s willingness to answer when he was called to start a radically new type of trade school. We are exceedingly grateful for his work, and we believe his commitment will have positively changed the narrative about work for years to come. As you’ll see in Brian’s letter below, this change will allow Brian to address the onset of some health challenges. Our prayers and our gratitude go with him as he enters his next phase, which will include him continuing to share his experience and skills as a member of Harmel’s Board of Trustees.

We are also pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has selected Harmel’s Executive Director David Michael Phelps as the new President of Harmel Academy of the Trades. David has been involved with the founding of Harmel Academy from the start, and with his decades of work in educational innovation, non-profit administration, teaching, and communications, we are confident that he will continue to build the mission of Harmel Academy.

This fall, we are expecting perhaps our largest incoming class yet, and we have concluded the past year with 100% graduate placements in apprenticeship programs. Under the direction of Mr. Phelps, Harmel Academy will continue to lead as an innovator in post-secondary Catholic education.

In Christ,

Ryan Pohl
Co-Founder and Board President



Some years ago, as I considered the final years of my career, I discerned that I was being called to use my know-how in the skilled trades to begin a mission in the Church that would, God willing, have a generational return. This led me to agreeing to take up leadership in the founding of Harmel Academy of the Trades. Over the past seven years of development and three years of operation, I feel I’ve been able to successfully begin that mission.

As our Lord would have it, in recent months, I have faced the onset of some health challenges that have been the occasion for me to examine my role in the future of that mission.

In the midst of this discernment, I have been approached to use my skills assisting with the construction of an ambitious Gothic Carmelite monastery in Wyoming — which, as it happens, is where my son is a Carmelite monk.

As I’ve considered how I am being called to continue my career while being able to address my health concerns, I have decided to accept their offer, and am resigning as President of Harmel Academy of the Trades. I will maintain a position on Harmel’s Board as it transitions to its next phase of development, which will be, I am certain, as it has always been: in God’s loving care and under the watchful patronage of St Joseph.

Thank you for your prayers and support of Harmel Academy. I have no doubt that those prayers and support will continue to help Harmel form the next generation of Catholic tradesmen.

In Christ,

Brian Black
Trustee, Harmel Academy

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