News & Event
By Mark Patinkin
Journal Staff Writer Posted May. 10, 2015 at 12:01 am Updated May 10, 2015 at 1:58 AM
She was in her early 50s and had one unusual priority she explained to friends this way: “I wanted a job that would make me cry.”
Someone made a suggestion, and in March 2000, Nolan drove to Providence from her Cumberland home and walked into Traveler's Aid, which served the homeless.
“Their pain,” she recalls, “was palpable.”
Since then, Anne Nolan has been a force that has changed the way Rhode Island fights homelessness.
At the end of this month, at age 67, Nolan will be retiring, so I decided to stop by.
“Once in a while I get sleepy during the day and like to take nap,” she told me.
Hardly; spending a few hours with Anne Nolan helped me see homelessness in a new way.
The majority, Nolan said, are homeless once in their lives; folks just getting by who are suddenly hit by job loss, illness — even divorce can do it.
Karen Santilli, 48, is Crossroads' chief marketing officer and will be replacing Nolan as president. I asked her to sum up Nolan’s legacy.
As a different kind of legacy, Santilli pointed to how Nolan brought a sense of business discipline from her corporate past — including the banking world — to a nonprofit.
“A chicken in every pot,” said Nolan, “peace on earth, end of world hunger, a garage-door opener for every garage.”
For example, Crossroads ran a health clinic because the homeless need that to get back on track. But it wasn’t the agency’s expertise, so she partnered with the Providence Community Health Center to run it for them.
Then, as a mission statement of sorts, she came up with a primary focus that may sound obvious, but it added laser clarity to what Crossroads does. Nolan explained it to me this way:
In the past, that was one of many priorities mixed in with things like counseling and skills training. But she explained that people can’t do the things needed to get back in a home — like finding a job — if they’re worried about where they’ll sleep that night.
The former YMCA building where we were talking is a good example of Crossroads' priority: 200 people now live there — 176 in rooms and 14 in efficiency apartments. All were once homeless, and for cohesiveness, all are single without children.
And yes, they do offer social services, including job training in areas like nursing and janitorial work.
Does she have many success stories in that category?
“We housed him,” said Nolan, “and in the next six months, he had only four visits.”
“I often say to myself I wouldn’t survive the lives most of them have lived,” Nolan said. “The courage they have to endure it is remarkable.”
I asked Santilli, who was sitting in on the interview, for other examples of Nolan bringing focus to Crossroads.
Then she mentioned the fourth, which struck me as odd, so I repeated it.
Santilli nodded and Nolan said there’s a serious reason for it.
That, she said, can drain the staff.
So she instituted a “rejuvenation day” where each staffer has to give a plan to their supervisor for a day off strictly for personal refueling.
Nolan brings the same idea to something Crossroads is famous for in Rhode Island’s nonprofit world — a 600-guest annual fundraiser at unusual locales, one year at an airport hanger, another at McCoy Stadium, and once an outdoor “Beach Ball” on tons of sand trucked into the parking lot of The Providence Journal, one of Crossroads’ major donors. The annual event usually raises around $600,000.
“It used to be the stereotype 45-year-old white male drinking out of a paper bag,” she said. “Now we have every possible face; it’s almost 50-50 men and women.”
Her theory: “I think the sense of community out there used to be stronger. People took care of each other. Families took care of each other.” Today — that's more frayed.
She remembered a moment at a recent Christmas party at the Crossroads family shelter on Broad. Santa came with modest presents for the kids, including a toy truck for one little boy — a cheap thing, said Nolan, that you might find at a gas-station store.
I asked if she's ready to leave or sad about it.
“I love this organization,” said Anne Nolan.
Like the other day when she walked into the Crossroads community room and saw a set of parents there with two babies — and nowhere to go.
Which is what she had always hoped to find in her work.
Today is a bittersweet day for me, as it marks my last day at Crossroads Rhode Island. Over the last 15 years, I have been privileged to work with the most dedicated staff, Board of Directors, and supporters anywhere to end homelessness for countless families and individuals in our state.
Providence, RI, April 17, 2015 – Crossroads Rhode Island Board of Directors’ chair, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. today announced that the Board has named Karen A. Santilli as President and CEO of the state’s largest provider of services to the homeless. Ms. Santilli will succeed Anne Nolan, who will retire after 14 years of service. Ms.Santilli, 48, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, and a member of the Senior Management Team of Crossroads Rhode Island joined Crossroads in 2008 and brings more than 25 years of non-profit experience to her new role starting June 1, 2015.
Ms. Santilli has recently led the organization through a strategic planning process that confirmed organizational values and redefined the mission, establishing and implementing a housing first model geared toward housing people and ending homelessness. In addition, Ms. Santilli has led the Marketing & Development Team to raise $2.8 million annually through a multi-media mix including direct mail, special events, grants, web-based marketing, major donor development, Planned Giving and community outreach. Under her leadership, Ms. Santilli has doubled the active donor base over a 5 year period.
“As President of Crossroads my first priority will be to continue to build on the strong foundation that Anne Nolan has built as well as ensuring that the organization’s values continue to be the driving force behind everything we do,” said Santilli. “I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past eight years actively engaging with Crossroad’s Board, management team, front-line employees and clients,” said Santilli. “I am honored to have the opportunity to now lead the Crossroads team as we move forward to ending homelessness.”
Prior to joining Crossroads, Ms. Santilli was the Marketing Director at Plan USA (formerly Foster Parents Plan) where she provided leadership and direction to the organization’s operations, participated in strategic business planning and ensured sound financial planning, as well as implementation of new systems and procedures. In addition, she managed all aspects of sponsor and donor acquisition and development, and coordinated with international field staff to identify appropriate overseas development projects.
“After a nationwide search, and with a very strong pool of finalists, the Board unanimously and enthusiastically elected Karen Santilli,” said Judge McConnell, Crossroads Board Chairman. “Karen is an accomplished and outstanding leader, and a dedicated social service advocate who has successfully led the organization through a profound and multi-layer organizational change. She has been a key part of our success, and the Board believes that Karen has the vision and leadership to guide our organization as we continue to put housing first and end homelessness in Rhode Island,” said Judge McConnell.
“On behalf of the Board I sincerely thank Anne for her valuable contributions and outstanding service throughout her career at Crossroads. We will be indebted for her passionate leadership, dedication and service to thousands of homeless individuals and families, and for being the embodiment of Crossroads values – Safety, Respect and Effectiveness”, said Judge McConnell.
“I’m proud of the work that Karen has done, particularly during a difficult economy, and I’m optimistic that Karen will build on the Crossroads foundation to succeed in the future,” Anne Nolan said. “Karen has been a great addition to our organization and her marketing and business savvy, and strong leadership skills make her an excellent choice to lead Crossroads going forward. It’s been an honor to have led such a dedicated staff for more than 14 years. It’s tough to say goodbye to the Crossroads family and clients, but I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Karen, that she will continue to move our agency and our mission forward.”
For Media Inquiries, Contact:
Patricia Campellone, Manager of Special Event and Public Relations
North Kingstown, RI (May 6, 2011) “The communities we build today must meet our state’s and residents’ needs of tomorrow,” says Anne Nolan, President of Crossroads Rhode Island. “And that means developing properties that maintain and protect our environment, are attractive for those who live there as well as their neighbors, and are affordable to Rhode Island working families.”
That sounds like a huge nut to crack but in fact, the Kingstown Crossings apartments were designed and re-developed by Crossroads Rhode Island and KITE Architects to accomplish all three goals and is on track for LEED certification once finished. The community of the future features a lovely, village-like design that utilizes environment-saving technology– which helps residents save money, while occupying the same amount of land as the buildings being replaced.
“LEED for Homes” is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. Green homes use less energy, water and natural resources, create less waste, and are more durable and comfortable for occupants.
“Rhode Island has so much to offer in terms of its beauty and environment. Yet the numbers of those who are without homes they can afford is growing,” adds Nolan. “We are proud to be able to create sustainable homes that are also affordable. This is a win-win. These beautiful homes are indeed the centerpiece of communities of the future, with walkable conveniences and schools, energy efficient systems, all the while maintaining natural, wooded surroundings and landscape.”
The development features a central pedestrian pathway, which will minimize the use of cars and eliminate drive-through traffic, making the area safer for children and families, as well as being walker- and cyclist-friendly.
Five percent of the new apartments are also designed specifically for those with disabilities and all units will feature “green” technology including energy-efficient appliances, heating systems, window systems, and insulation.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held May 20, 2011.
Kingstown Crossings LEED for Homes Details
KITE Architects worked with Crossroads RI to design Kingstown Crossings in North Kingstown with many features across the spectrum of sustainability. A feature of the LEED for Homes program is that special focus is given to tenant training as well as ongoing building maintenance. Also, special durability inspections during construction ensure that all trades are building to high standards to ensure a long life of the building. Green features include:
Location and Linkages:
- The site has been previously developed – no farmland is used, and the site uses existing infrastructure such as power, natural gas, and sewers
- The apartments are located on a major bus line, enabling residents to get to work without a car
- There are stores, schools, and parks within walking distance
- Safe, ample play space and a continuous pedestrian path is provided on-site
- Use of local materials is encouraged and documented
- The site will be re-graded to filter most stormwater on-site with natural rain gardens, instead of flowing to Narragansett Bay and overloading storm sewers
- Most of the existing mature trees on-site will be protected during construction
- Low flow toilets, sinks, and showers save water
- Landscape plantings are native and drought resistant, so no irrigation system is needed
Energy & Atmosphere:
- Homes are participating in the Energy Star Homes program
- A high level of insulation and a compact form mean that the buildings’ score for efficiency – the HERS Index – will make the apartments 39% more efficient than required by code. This translates to hundreds of dollars of savings on each tenant’s utility bills.
- A high efficiency boiler (85% AFUE) in each unit will provide both heat and hot water
- All appliances are Energy Star compliant
- A programmable thermostat in each unit allows daytime temperatures to be lower while the residents are at work or school.
- Kitchens and bathrooms are located very close to the hot water heater, minimizing heat loss through the piping
- Ducted kitchen and bath exhaust fans ensure ample ventilation
- Large operable windows and ceiling fans allow residents to keep cool without an air conditioner
- Individually metered natural gas and electrical bills encourage personal responsibility for energy use
Materials and Resources:
- Flooring material is made from locally extracted and manufactured materials
- Pests such as termites are kept from damaging the structure with the use of metal shields at the foundation, using screens at all large openings, and caulking every joint tightly.
- No tropical hardwoods such as mahogany are used anywhere on site.
- The contractor has recycling as much construction waste as possible, has diverted over 80% so far from landfills
- Lumber cuts will be planned in advance to make sure not more than 10% of lumber ends up as scrap.
Indoor Environmental Quality:
- Hard surface flooring is used throughout, reducing indoor air quality problems associated with carpet
- The apartments will be flushed with fresh air to reduce any off-gassing prior to move-in of each unit
- Radon release measures including vent piping under the concrete slabs reduce the risk of radon.
- Doors made from recycled fibers are solid-core and long lasting
- Low-VOC paints and sealants are used
Awareness and Education:
- Onsite operations manager ensures proper maintenance
- Orientation & procedural overview and tours given prior to tenant move in.
More information about the LEED-Homes program may be found at http://www.usgbc.org
The Rhode Island Foundation awarded a $100,000 emergency grant to Crossroads Rhode Island today to bolster the agency’s ongoing efforts to meet the unprecedented need for emergency shelter and services for the homeless. Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO the Foundation, and David M. Hirsch, Foundation chairman, presented the grant to Crossroads President Anne Nolan and Board Chairman Howard G. Sutton at a press conference today. Requests for emergency shelter are the highest in the agency’s history and homeless advocates have warned the current crisis situation will only worsen this winter.
"In this difficult climate, many Rhode Island families and individuals are still seeking out resources to obtain basic necessities like housing, food, and health care," said Steinberg. "Thanks to our generous donors, we are able to provide this grant to ensure Crossroads can continue to respond to the increasing need for shelter and services in our state."
The emergency grant, which is made in part from the George M. and Barbara H. Sage Fund at the Foundation, will provide critical stop-gap funding for Crossroads, which has been overwhelmed with visits by Rhode Island families and individuals in need of housing.
"Crossroads Rhode Island is extremely grateful for the support of both the Rhode Island Foundation and the George M. and Barbara H. Sage Fund at the Foundation for this emergency grant," said Anne Nolan, President of Crossroads. "The number of homeless, particularly women and families new to homelessness, coming to us for help is higher than ever before. This grant will help us to continue providing essential life services in a safe, respectful and effective manner."
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