Female Leaders at the Helm as StandUp for Kids Celebrates Women’s History Month

March 30 2021

DECATUR, Ga.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--StandUp for Kids (StandUp) is proud to celebrate the vital role women play in American history by announcing an all-female executive committee. This change in leadership advances its mission, bringing diversity, different perspectives and strong backgrounds to its Board, and represents what is culturally needed today.

“We represent our kids more today than we did before. This will be instrumental in helping StandUp end youth homelessness,” said Greg Smith, National Executive Director. He added, “This is the first time in our 30-year history that not only do we have a woman leading the Board, but the entire executive committee is female. I am thrilled to be working with such strong and talented people. I couldn’t be more confident in our future.”

In the U.S., 4.2 million youth experience homelessness every year, with many forced to make difficult choices just to survive. A national non-profit, StandUp empowers homeless and at-risk youth toward lifelong personal growth through open, straightforward counseling, mentoring, and life-skills training. Greg explained, “We strive to build inclusive communities where all youth know care, feel loved, and have a support system to move quickly from surviving to thriving. We are proud of showing unbiased hospitality, and respect the individual diversity, beliefs, and decisions of each youth we serve and condemn discrimination in any form.”

With a goal toward fostering a healthy and growing organization that has focus and executional excellence, the Board elected the following new executive committee members in February:

Laura Ann Smith, Chair: With a strong background in corporate governance, Laura Ann will be supporting StandUp’s work with youth across the country to find their path forward. “Everyone deserves the best that life has to offer. For some that comes more freely, and others have to work harder under more difficult circumstances and need a guiding hand to help them know that they deserve it and show them how to get there.”

Maria Verastegui, Vice-Chair: As a marketing executive, design leader, and agency founder working in the Pharmaceutical industry, Maria will draw upon her 20 years of creative leadership building brands, mentoring and growing in-house teams, and cultivating the power of marketing and design to impact business. She is excited to join a group that pours an immense amount of dedication, love, and sweat equity into everything they do for the kids. “Our volunteers are warriors – out on the street day and night, they go where the kids are; to be there for them, to be the ones they can trust to help.”

Catherine Ballowe, Treasurer: Bringing over 25 years of finance and accounting experience, Catherine will help guide StandUp's financial wellness. “Every homeless youth has a unique story, and I am acutely aware that almost every one of them has felt abandoned or let down by a grown-up.” She added, “I love working with kids and showing them that someone believes in them, so that they can, in turn, learn to believe in themselves!”

Kelly Fields, Secretary: Executive Director of StandUp’s Atlanta chapter since 2010, Kelly’s background includes 20 years of non-profit experience and over 10 years working in corporate human resources. “Every single day I have a chance to use all the tools in my toolbox. There is no gliding when your job is guiding kids out of crises.”

StandUp for Kids’ efforts are geared to help “one youth at a time.” Without the stability of home or family, young people under 25 are vulnerable to a range of negative experiences including exploitation and victimization, and they face devastating barriers in life, hindering their ability to re-assimilate into their communities.

To find out more about StandUp for Kids, visit www.standupforkids.org.

About StandUp for Kids: StandUp for Kids is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of youth homelessness in local communities like yours. Since 1990, we have cared for homeless and at-risk youth by transitioning them from crisis to connection. We give our youth a sense of safety, hope, and belonging through housing support, mentoring, drop-in centers, and street outreach.

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