Coalition Strategic Planning and Leadership Update

Dec 06, 2018  |  at 3:59 pm  |  by awright

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Dear Coalition for the Homeless Friends and Family:

In 2012 our region accepted the national challenge to end Veteran homelessness by 2015, chronic homelessness by 2018, and family and youth/young adult homelessness by 2020. With more than 100 nonprofit partners, businesses, government agencies, and more, the Coalition built a strong system known as The Way Home. This system has effectively ended Veteran homelessness in our region and is considered a national leader in solving homelessness.

As many of you are aware, the Coalition has been reviewing our strategic direction and seeking input into what would best serve Houston and our surrounding communities over the next several years. The most significant finding from our strategic review is that Houston is ready for the Coalition to take the leading role in public education and advocacy on behalf of those experiencing homelessness. For more than six years we have been successfully “leading from behind” as we built our system and drove local collaboration. It is now time for the Coalition to become the public voice and face as an advocate for those experiencing homelessness, so the Houston region can continue to be a national leader and find solutions to these complicated issues.

As the Coalition Board of Directors studied our organization and the community’s needs, we took a close look at our organizational structure and available resources. We have determined that as we move into this new direction, we will do so with fresh leadership at both the staff and board levels.

The first major change is that Marilyn Brown will be leaving her position as President/CEO of the Coalition. On behalf of the Board of Directors I want to express our sincere appreciation for the outstanding leadership that Marilyn has provided during her tenure with the Coalition. Since 2012, she and her team have driven the collaboration that led to The Way Home being a nationally-recognized homeless response system which, during her tenure, has reduced homelessness by 51% and moved more than 15,000 people out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

Marilyn and the Coalition also stepped up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and led in the planning of a disaster recovery housing program that, with the help of other partner agencies of The Way Home, prevented homelessness for nearly 1,000 individuals and helped our region’s recovery efforts. Most recently, Marilyn’s leadership helped secure significant funding for two of our partner agencies from a national foundation.

The work is not complete but under Marilyn’s leadership, the Coalition has moved our system closer to the goal that no one should ever have to be without permanent housing for more than 30 days and is now in the position to take on the leading role in public education and advocacy.

The second major change is that Wendy Adair is stepping down as Chair of the Coalition’s Board of Directors and I, Alan Watkins, will be returning to serve in this position. We sincerely appreciate Wendy’s leadership on the Board, particularly in leading our strategic direction initiative.

An interim President/CEO will be named in January. Until that time, Lynn Lohr, former Board Treasurer, has agreed to serve as interim COO and will oversee the general activities of the organization. In 2019, the Board and I will launch a national search for our next President/CEO.

I want to thank you for your partnership and support. I look forward to working with you in 2019 and beyond as the Coalition embarks on this era of growth.


Alan Watkins and the Board of Directors
Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County