Chicago, Ill. Feb. 6, 2023 — Deborah’s Place, a trailblazing Chicago organization in the field of homelessness intervention for women, announced in November 2022 that Audrey Thomas would retire as Chief Executive Officer at the end of January 2023. After a comprehensive internal and external search, the Board of Directors and senior agency leadership have chosen Kathy Booton-Wilson, most recently the organization’s Chief Strategy Officer, as her successor.
Kathy will be just the fourth person to lead in the organization’s 37-year history. She brings more than 35 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, where she has demonstrated her leadership within Deborah’s Place, and the homeless service system in Chicago. Her relationships and ability to work across philanthropic, business, and government institutions – as well as an understanding of the issues facing Deborah’s Place – make her uniquely suited to lead the organization.
In her role as Chief Strategy Officer, Kathy was instrumental in the successful execution of an ambitious five-year strategic plan, through which Deborah’s Place doubled its impact and service capacity. By fostering interagency partnerships, increasing staff, and kickstarting new community-based housing initiatives, the organization went from serving 300 women annually to over 600 in 2022. More and deeper community partnerships are in the future thanks to her work, including new housing developments with the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation and Heartland Alliance.
Regarding the transition, Kathy says “Audrey has laid the groundwork for the life-saving work that we are doing together, and we have a tremendous team in place.”
Audrey, who joined Deborah’s Place as a volunteer within its first year of operations in 1985, has led the organization since 2004. Reflecting on her 37-year tenure with the organization, she says “Deborah’s Place has always been my vocation. Nothing else has ever called to me.”
Her clear-minded focus on the organization’s strengths and values has made it possible for Deborah’s Place to refine its vision, expand its operations, and become the city’s largest provider of permanent supportive housing for unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness. Throughout all of this, her unwavering focus has been on improving the lives of the women she serves.
“Audrey has been a guiding light for Deborah’s Place,” says Deborah’s Place Board President Bruce Traan. Looking toward the future, he says “We are at a thrilling time at Deborah’s Place. With Kathy as the new CEO, I could not be more excited for the organization and the women we serve. We look forward to writing the next chapter of growth for the organization with Kathy.”
To thank Audrey for her work championing unhoused women in Chicago and to continue the mission of Deborah’s Place under Kathy Booton-Wilson’s leadership, supporters are encouraged to contribute to Audrey’s Legacy Fund.
About Deborah’s Place
Deborah’s Place opens doors of opportunity for women experiencing homeless in Chicago. Supportive housing and services offer women their key to healing, achieving their goals and moving on from the experience of homelessness.
We seek to fulfill our mission through the expression of our core values:
- We believe that safe, clean and affordable housing is a right.
- We believe that every woman has the potential to achieve her goals and determine her future.
- We believe that women heal from life traumas through healthy relationships and a caring, supportive community.
- We believe we must seek to affirm diversity, strive to be inclusive of individual identities and experiences, and work to create an intentional and equitable community of residents, staff, volunteers, and donors
- We believe in striving for continual growth, development and excellence in the supportive housing and services we provide.
- We believe that our impact is greatest when we work in collaboration with individuals, organizations and the community at large.