Family Promise Rochester welcomes new executive director

Following a nationwide search, Family Promise Rochester has hired Karen LaFee as the organization’s next executive director. LaFee joins the nonprofit with over 20 years of nonprofit experience and a passion for helping families in need.

“Karen has extensive experience in the non-profit sector,” said Board Chair Melissa Brandt. “The Family Promise Board is thrilled to have a leader who is known not only for her strategic planning and development skills, but also for her compassion and collaborative approach when working with families experiencing homelessness.”

Family Promise Rochester, part of the nationwide Family Promise network of affiliates addressing family homelessness, works locally to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response. The nonprofit was launched in Rochester as Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) in 1999 and has helped hundreds of homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence.

“I am honored at the privilege of becoming the Executive Director to Family Promise,” LaFee said. “My experience and passion in working with children and families, collaborating with community organizations, and leadership in non-profit organizations will support the work we provide and the families we serve.”

LaFee has previously worked as the executive director of Wing House, providing transitional housing and support to adults with brain injuries and strokes, and worked for nearly 18 years directing the Family Connections program with Mercy Medical Center in North Iowa, providing in-home visitation services for pregnant families and parents of infants, and toddlers who are at risk, and teens that are parenting.

Family Promise is a local response to a national crisis, helping homeless families build new lives. This year in America, more than 2.5 million children and their parents will experience homelessness. In a single-night count in 2015, Wilder Research identified 9,312 homeless people living in Minnesota.

Family Promise’s unique work provides a family with a counselor who assists guests daily, helping them to navigate resources in the community to find housing, employment and stability. The counselor also holds life skills training classes for guests; helping them with financing, parenting, rental and legal issues. After securing housing, the counselor works with the families for one year in a follow-along program to provide stability so that the children stay in the same schools and the families remain in their housing – not falling back into homelessness.

While the counselor helps families stabilize, Family Promise’s network of 40 faith communities and 1,400 volunteers provide food, shelter and loving support when a family finds themselves without a home.

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