Nonprofit Profile of CHRIS Kids

Nonprofit Profiles –  From the Desk of:  CHRIS Kids

I conduct a series called ‘From the Desk of:  Atlanta Nonprofit Leaders’.  This endeavor is a series of interviews of Executive Directors, Head of Schools and CEOs of local nonprofit organizations.   My Nonprofit Profiles blog posts highlight the most outstanding feature of each leader and his/her organization.  Here are their stories…

“The Business of Utilizing People’s Potential”



Kathy Colbenson, the CEO of CHRIS Kids


CHRIS Kids’ mission is to heal children, strengthen families and build community.  Their vision is to improve our community by providing children, adults and families with high-quality, trauma-informed behavioral health services and support systems systems.

Where:  http://www.chriskids.org/home-page


Kathy Colbenson is ‘Unlocking Potential’.  As the CEO of CHRIS Kids, she has learned how to leverage people’s strengths, skill-sets and roles for complete engagement.  Kathy utilizes the full potential of her team to help youth who have a history of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse, neglect, homelessness and/or substance abuse.   Every day, Kathy and her staff help their clients find ways to create their own success!   This is what CHRIS Kids is about – unlocking potential.


It was a pleasure to sit down with and learn from Kathy Colbenson.  She understands the importance of good governance and management to run a successful nonprofit business.  In her own words, “Our business is doing good with the maximum amount of stewardship”.  She regularly assesses the potential of all the staff at CHRIS Kids as well as assessing the potential of the organization itself for constant development and growth.

Kathy is an impressive nonprofit leader.  Her self-confidence as a steward of her organization allows her to focus on developing leaders within- both within themselves and within the organization.  Kathy is trained and licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  She uses her skills as a therapist as well as her skills as a smart business woman to guide the organization.  By learning that everyone has an explicit and different role in the organization, she helps keep everyone focused on working within their specific roles to help the organization reach its strategic goals.  Kathy states that the secret to a great organization is having “a great Board of Directors, great strategic planning and a great staff”.

CHRIS Kids has grown from an organization that created Georgia’s first specialized group home for youth with behavioral/emotional challenges in 1981 to what it is today.  They are a community of leaders who support youth with emotional and/or mental health issues and are in need of stable housing.  CHRIS Kids also supports individuals and organizations who work with similar populations by providing trainings.  The  CHRIS KIds community spreads far and wide as Kathy and her team have partnered with multiple organizations in order to provide the best services to their clients.

I was most impressed with 2 things as I toured the CHRIS Kids:
1)    The Mission, Vision and Values were inscribed in many places around the buildings.  This is the sign of a strong nonprofit and one that wants to keep their purpose ‘in view’.
2)    The décor.  This may seem silly and superficial, but it holds a lot of significance.  CHRIS Kids has spent the time, effort and money to create a beautiful environment for their staff, clients and guests.

Kathy has been with CHRIS Kids for 27 years.   She has helped to create a stable, thriving organization that offers many tools and services to unlock the possibilities within every youth that enters their doors.   An executive director who focuses on the potential of her people, the organization and their target market is a Winner in my book!

To learn more about CHRIS Kid’s, please check them out at http://www.chriskids.org/home-page.


Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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