Welcome to GoodWorks, Kris Thompson! Kris is the Executive Director of Calvary Women’s Services, which provides homeless women with both temporary housing and the resources and support to live independently in the future. Read on to learn more about Calvary, Kris, and her heroes:
1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?
With more women in need of housing, employment and support services, I’ve been working on expanding Calvary Women’s Services’ programs and housing capacity. It’s been great fun talking with long-time supporters about this project and having them respond positively to this opportunity to make further positive change in our community. I really can’t wait to see more women coming in our doors and having the resources to turn their lives around.
2. What else are you up to?
I’ve spent a lot of the last year doing business development — re-organizing the staff structure in anticipation of program growth, expanding our use of technology in financial management and program outcomes, and networking with like-minded individuals and businesses who are also interested in women’s empowerment. Not always glamorous work — but the stuff that holds together an effective organization.
3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?
Definitely my parents. From the time that I was six years old, they would pack my brother and me into the car to travel somewhere in the country to do a volunteer project. We have “summer vacation” photos of us helping renovate an addiction recovery facility in New Mexico, painting senior housing in Pennsylvania, and building a house for a family in Tennessee. Their commitment to volunteerism and social justice certainly set me on my path.
4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?
One of my heroes is Muhammad Yunus, the man who founded the Grameen Bank and expanded the concept of micro-lending. I love that his work began with local women — those he recognized as the heart of their community. I am inspired by his commitment to creating ways for communities to find sustainable solutions to their local problems — not just quick fixes.
5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?
It is tough to know that there are more women in need of services and personal support than what is available in our city. It is challenging to hear women’s stories of long-term struggle and abuse. The flip side, the greatest joy of my work, is witnessing the enormous transformation that women can make in their lives.
6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in your field?
While I am passionate about my work at Calvary Women’s Services, I am also fairly good at being able to step away for family time and vacation. Those who work in nonprofits need to remember — while you love what you do, you also need to go home at night. Work/life balance isn’t always easy but you have to find it.
7. What’s next?
Wish I could say I was running a marathon or hiking Everest, but the next thing up for me is unpacking boxes. I just did some renovations on my house and it’s time to get things put away.
EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?
Nelson Mandela — with the hope that I might absorb even a tiny bit of his integrity, his true humanity, and his ability to help others see themselves in their fullness.
Katherine Graham — with the hope that I would learn something about taking risks to grow a successful business (like she did with The Washington Post Co.) and placing high value on personal and professional relationships.
Bono — with the hope that his passion and enormous vision for ending poverty would expand my own thinking for what is possible in my local place. And, honestly, who doesn’t want to hang out with a rock star?