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A Message from the Our House Leadership

From Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director:

I am writing to you today to share the news that I am leaving Our House after 12 wonderful and life-changing years. My husband Dominik will become CEO of a community development bank in Columbia, South Carolina, so along with our three young children we will be moving there in one month’s time.  It feels good to be able to say “yes” to this opportunity to build and invest in a bank that is deeply aligned with our family mission of helping empower people to lead meaningful and productive lives.  My last day at Our House will be September 15th.

As I think about leaving Our House and leaving this state – my home and my community – the feelings that keep welling up in me are those of deep gratitude.  Gratitude to each of you, who over the last twelve years have given of yourself to help be the fabric of support that lifts homeless and near homeless families and individuals out of poverty.  You have allowed me the privilege of serving as a bridge and a connector between you – our volunteers, our donors, our partners, and our friends – and the men, women and children who come to Our House every day seeking a better life.

I’ve had the chance to bear witness to transformation time and time again over these last twelve years. Just this week to see a mother reunited with her two children.  To hear the hope in a shelter resident’s voice as she told me about the job she was offered just today.  To watch a student get off the school bus and run down the hill to the Children’s Center where there are amazing leaders waiting to ask about his day, to ensure that his time at school is positive and that he is set up for success in life.  To peek in on my daughter’s class at Little Learners right here on campus as she sits in a circle with 12 other pre-schoolers, her friends, kids who live in our shelter and other shelters around town, whose families are struggling but who are receiving support because of Our House.  To know these children’s stories. To see their teacher provide each of them with patience, love and stability during times of stress, chaos and the unknown.  To know that my own children have had the chance to grow up in this incredible community called Our House.  To be a part of our clients’ lives and also to see each day our commonalities.  To know that we are not so different from each other.  And as I have shared the news of leaving, to feel love from our team, from the community and from our clients whose well wishes are so real and personal.

I am grateful to our board and our leadership for allowing me to leave this organization in such trustworthy and talented hands.  Last week, our board voted unanimously to offer the position of Executive Director to Ben Goodwin, who has been my colleague for the last eight years – my friend, my right hand man and the Assistant Director.  Ben has an incredible intellect, is highly capable, but most importantly, his heart is in this place.  He loves our clients and our mission, and he has demonstrated his dedication to our cause and to the community.

Thanks again to each of you for the role you have played in making Our House a national model, a place where thousands of lives are touched and changed for the better every year, and for impacting my life in the most meaningful ways.

 

From Drew Weber, President of the Board of Directors:

Georgia has been an incredible Executive Director of Our House over the past 12 years. Her visionary leadership has helped Our House grow into a dynamic, high-impact organization that is making a huge positive change in people’s lives, and in our entire community. And her deep and heartfelt love for Our House’s clients and mission has inspired so many people, myself included, to get involved. This is a bittersweet time for all of us in the Our House family—we are sad to say goodbye to Georgia, our friend and colleague for so many years, but we are also excited for this new chapter for her and her family.

I’m pleased to announce that we have a strong plan in place to ensure that our organization does not miss a step during this transition. Our Board voted unanimously to select Ben Goodwin, Our House’s current Assistant Director, as Our House’s next Executive Director. Ben has been with Our House for eight years and worked side by side with Georgia to build the organization into what it is today, handling program development and evaluation, fundraising, communications, finances, strategic planning, facilities, operations, capital expansion, and much more. Ben is well-qualified for the role, as a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Hendrix and Oxford and a strong 13-year track record of success in the nonprofit field. He has been intentionally groomed for the Executive Director role as part of a succession plan approved by our Board of Directors two years ago, and he has participated in all major decisions of the organization for many years. He has a deep love for Our House, its clients, and its mission. He has the support and trust of the Our House team. And he has the full support of the board of directors.

This is an exciting time for Our House, an opportunity for our board and our team to recommit to the mission of the organization and, under Ben’s leadership, build on our forward momentum, growing and improving our programs to make a deeper positive impact in even more people’s lives.

 

From Ben Goodwin, incoming Executive Director:

I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead this organization that I love so dearly. I offer my deepest thanks to the board and the team, for your support and confidence; to our clients, for the hard work you invest each day making a better life for yourselves; and to the amazing community of supporters whose generous investments of time, talent, resources, and encouragement have been the lifeblood of this organization since its founding 30 years ago. The past eight years working alongside Georgia here at Our House have been among the greatest experiences of my life, and it is my deepest honor to have the opportunity to take the baton from her on September 15 and continue the important work of building this organization into a national model for empowering homeless and near-homeless families to make a better life for themselves.

This is a big job, and I am going to need your help to succeed. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions, concerns, ideas, or advice. I can be reached at 501-944-5110 or ben@ourhouseshelter.org anytime.

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