I am incredibly humbled and honored to join All Stars Helping Kids as the new Executive Director. As I step into this role, I am acutely aware of the opportunities and challenges facing the nonprofits we support and the communities we serve.
Across the region, young people – especially those whose skin color, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, disability, sexual orientation, or zip code has prevented them from realizing their full potential – are struggling to get good jobs, gain access to health care, have affordable housing, or receive a quality education.
And unfortunately, too many youth serving organizations are seeing significant increases in demand for vital services while facing a combination of challenges including restricted program funding, lack of liquidity, weak infrastructure and systems, overworked and underpaid staff, and a reliance of government funding that does not cover full costs. There is also a clear need to develop stronger boards, new business models, and outcomes-based strategies. Leaders of these organizations must be empowered to develop new approaches and move away from harmful funding practices that can leave them anemic, reactive, and reliant on sweat equity to deliver services.
How are we to respond?
We could simply accept that there is not and will not be enough money to address the social challenges facing our communities. We could say our role is no longer to help move people up the ladder of economic opportunity and the best we can do is to help stop people falling further down. We could accept mediocracy, poor outcomes and limited impact.
Or we can choose a different path. We can choose to break the rules, escape our silos, and end the culture of scarcity that has plagued the sector for decades. And that is what truly excites me about this opportunity. Because, from almost its very inception, All Stars has chosen to work differently.
I believe All Stars will bring together money, capacity building and partnerships to drive real on-the-ground change in our communities. We will serve as champions of the great work being done by our grantees. And, we will be a leader in developing new approaches that integrate nonprofit know-how, philanthropic capital, and private investment to advance our strategic goals. All of us here at All Stars from the staff to the board to our grantees recognize that now is not the time to step back but rather to step forward.
Driving Effectiveness & Impact
We are seeing radical shifts in how the social sector works including unprecedented cuts in government funding, disruptions from technology, the rise of impact investing, policy changes at the state and federal levels, and continuing increases in demand for vital safety-net services. To ensure our grantees and partners can not only compete but can thrive in this new reality, we will be examining how to offer new and expanded services, strengthen our capacity building programs, create peer networks, and develop new funding partnerships.
Building Community & Collaboration
Breaking the cycle of poverty will require a committed effort that involves government, funders, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations themselves. Consequently, we want to build a space for collaborative efforts among all of our partners and stakeholders to address issues of equity, economic mobility, and ensuring access for all.
Adapting How We Work
We are also improving the way we work as an organization. We are refreshing and revitalizing our strategic plan and vision for how we deliver impact, exploring new systems and technology to better serve our partners, and improving our website to offer visitors an enhanced experience. We will also be moving our offices to a new and bigger space that will allow us to better meet the needs of a growing organization.
This is a going to be a team effort. And I am deeply grateful to the entire team here at All Stars – our Board Chair, Issac Vaughn, the Search Committee, and ASHK staff – for their support and assistance in helping me transition into this position. Also, I would like to express my sincere appreciate to our Founder and guiding spirit Ronnie Lott and his wife Karen for their unwavering dedication and generosity leading this amazing work for these past 30 years.
As All Stars looks to adapt and respond to the changing needs of our communities, I hope we can count on you to join us as thought partners and co-creators of game-changing strategies that drive innovation, strengthen our nonprofit partners, and disrupt the cycle of poverty so that all youth can thrive regardless of zip code.
All Stars Helping Kids