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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
The Providence Journal, July 11, 2016
Op-ed by Karen Santilli
Regarding Froma Harrop’s June 29 Commentary piece (“The streets cannot be a home”): Many cities and states are seeing an upsurge of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness. So much so that they have turned to emergency declarations to try to tackle the crisis.
The picture that Harrop painted of unsheltered individuals and families was vivid and, although extreme, is the reality for many cities across the country. What was most important in the piece was her acknowledgment that additional funding is needed to solve this complex issue.
Here in Rhode Island, we too are seeing an increase in the number of people we serve. It is unacceptable for any man, woman or child to be homeless. Yet each year thousands of Rhode Islanders find themselves without a place to call home.
A shortage of affordable housing has resulted in rents that absorb a disproportionately high share of income, leaving many only an illness, accident or paycheck away from becoming homeless. Thousands of Rhode Island families and individuals live at or near the poverty line, and are vulnerable to becoming homeless.
The only lasting solution to homelessness is permanent, affordable housing. Far too often, however, we attempt to treat the symptoms of homelessness instead of its root causes. Crossroads is working to increase the number of affordable housing units available, with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness.
Additionally, and in combination with services provided to those who come to a shelter, we have an active street outreach team that identifies, monitors and educates unsheltered homeless people about the programs available to them. In 2015, our outreach team moved 45 individuals who were living on the streets into their own apartments.
We know what the solution is, and we are working tirelessly to put it in place. However, we have a limited budget. With additional funding we can make an even bigger impact on our community and solve homelessness in Rhode Island.
In November, Rhode Island voters will see a referendum on the ballot to provide additional funding for affordable housing. We hope residents understand how vital the bond is and support creating more affordable housing opportunities in our state.
Providence Journal Article: http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/20160711/karen-santilli-money-for-housing-crucial-for-ri-homeless
Written by Karen A. Santilli, President & CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island
Published online on August 25, 2015 at providencejournal.com.
Is it possible to provide every individual and family experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island the opportunity to be housed within 30 days of losing housing? The short answer is yes, when systems and programs are designed to effectively end homelessness rather than manage homelessness.
Rhode Islanders, like residents of other states, have challenges. Wages have stagnated. Housing is not as affordable as it once was. Finding affordable accommodations is difficult. Unemployment is high. And yet homelessness remains solvable. And we know how to solve it -- with a singular focus on housing.
Homelessness is not the character flaw of an individual or head of household in a family. While the stereotypical image is of a person with mental illness struggling with addiction, the truth is that most Rhode Islanders who live with a mental illness and/or addiction will never be homeless. Most people living below the poverty line will never be homeless. Homelessness is a remarkably rare event informed more by unique circumstances and interruption of natural supports than anything else. The solution, therefore, should be so focused.
Ending homelessness is more cost-effective than managing homelessness. It is cheaper -- about threefold less. People who are homeless consume significant taxpayer-funded services, from emergency health care to frequent interactions with police; court costs dealing with petty offenses and misdemeanors to sheltering services.
Over the past two years, Crossroads Rhode Island has revamped its programs top to bottom to focus on housing. The result? Overwhelming increases in people exiting Crossroads programs into housing: 1,238 were moved into housing in 2014 -- a 26 percent increase over 2013. Crossroads’ solution-focused thinking is pervasive in shelters and employment programs, to get people connected to housing as quickly as possible. Lengths of stay in shelters for families and single adults operated by Crossroads are down: 2014 shelter stays decreased 20 percent from the previous year.
How did we get there? Making the tough choices. From top to bottom, Crossroads’ staff now performs the tasks and interventions necessary to end every person’s homelessness. It meant changing programs and staffing. It meant having a board that supports what is proven to work, not necessarily what felt like just a charitable action. It meant making a commitment to continuous improvement.
As a result, Crossroads has been recognized as a national leader and had the opportunity to showcase its accomplishments at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in Washington, D.C. Others want to know how Crossroads Rhode Island went about decreasing the lengths of stays in shelters, and increased the number of people moving into housing and staying housed.
More can and needs to be done to move the entire state in the direction that will achieve maximum results. Ending homelessness in Rhode Island requires critical thought and action on where to place state and federal resources.
The best use of those funds is to target them to the individuals and families that need them the most, not based on first-come, first-served. The best use of those funds is to use data to drive investment. The best use of those funds is in hands-on supports that help people locate and move into housing quickly, and then supports for whatever issues triggered the episode of homelessness in the first place.
The best use of those funds is investing in organizations that have a track record of successful outcomes and are professionally trained on the interventions proven to work. The best use of those funds is investing in programs that deliver services aligned to evidence and practice.
A charitable approach of well-intentioned but misguided organizations is not going to cut it.
It is time to realize that we need a different approach than the one that got us into our current state -- of more than 4,000 people homeless in Rhode Island. Crossroads is blazing the path of what is possible in the state. As the new president of Crossroads, I am committed to making the changes necessary to get the job done. Will the state and its people step up to support this proven approach to ending homelessness?
June 2, 2016
Dear Crossroads Donors,
Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion in the media and in the state legislature about the merits and process of awarding Community Service grants to non-profit agencies that provide many of the human services programs in Rhode Island. Crossroads Rhode Island is the grateful recipient of one of these grants, which helps us sustain essential services focused on helping individuals and families secure stable homes. We receive $302,500 from the legislature, of which 100% is spent on direct services, including:
The Community Service grant helps us provide direct assistance to more than 1,500 people every year and makes it possible for those in the greatest need to get help when they need it most. The grant provides only a portion of the cost of operating these programs (less than 20%), but without this assistance, we would not be able to sustain the level of support we offer now. On any given night, we provide emergency shelter to an average of 184 individuals. In 2015, we housed 41 adults directly from living on the streets in unsafe situations into housing – bypassing the shelter system completely. Our focus is on permanent housing solutions—last year, 92% of the adults in our shelter program and 72% of families in shelter exited to permanent housing. We moved and/or maintained 693 households, representing 1,364 individuals, in stable housing.
Crossroads is proud of its strong fiscal infrastructure and transparency. We provide regular narrative and financial reports to the RI Department of Human Services, which manages our Community Service grant. The Community Service grant is a good investment of state funding, and Crossroads ensures that every dollar awarded to us has a positive impact on ending homelessness in our state.
We recently joined together with five other organizations to voice our support for the Community Service grant program. You can read our joint letter here.
Karen A. Santilli
President & CEO
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