Welcome Executive Director:
Courtney Brooks Kamin
Two weeks ago, I sat down with Board President Dick Burk to accept the position as Executive Director of REACH. Since then, I have joined the Board through a strategic planning session, met current and former staff who have helped me get aquatinted with daily operations, ran into volunteers who give so generously of their time, and drank countless cups of coffee to fuel me through marathon days of deep diving into this incredible organization.
You can learn about my professional background on the staff page, but I’d like to share who I am beyond my resume. I live in the DC area with my husband, who, after serving two tours in Iraq, now serves a national nonprofit veteran organization and is Army Reserves. We have a sweet, silly, and bold two-year-old toddler named Lincoln and a wild little Aussie puppy named Huckleberry (because having a toddler and a puppy is such a good idea). Like any working family, we treasure our quiet time, which I spend (at least in the warmer months) working in our backyard to create my own little reminder of the mountains of home.
I was born and raised in Central Appalachia, coming from a long line of coal miners and farmers. What you may have learned about this region has probably come to you across news outlets: economic disparities, unemployment, and a lack of education. Those things are true, and their origins and intersections are much more complicated than a simple news story could ever cover, but what you do not hear about are the closely-knit kinship networks, pride and preservation of traditions, and the importance of community. After my own transformative educational experience at a small school in Kentucky, known for its abolitionist roots and social justice focus, I found myself on a path trying to make change where I could, which led me to the doorstep of REACH, a place I was not expecting to find, but a destination with a mission and vision that was familiar and resonated.
We are more alike
It is quite easy to find yourself amazed by the work of REACH. Education, safety, and health are fundamental human rights, and I personally know how access to these can be transformative, especially when enfolded within one’s own community. I would never align my experiences to anyone else’s, as our stories are uniquely our own, but as Maya Angelou wisely said, “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Our sponsors and donors have felt this connection, this alikeness, with the purpose of REACH, making individual commitments, month after month, year after year, ensuring that a child they may never meet in a place they may never see might have an opportunity to build a foundation for their own future. It is a testament to how far compassion and kindness can reach, which has allowed this organization to grow exponentially since it was founded.
I look forward to learning your stories, your pathways that have led you to AHH’s doorstep. I look forward to many milestones and celebrations as the organization, and we, as part of that organization, continue to see it continue to grow.
Welcome Courtney – Your “intro” above was thoughtful and bodes well for your work there at REACH. I wish you all the best with what I am sure you’ll find to be a most rewarding endeavor.
Cheers and aloha, Dan Gardner (REACH Exec. Dir. 9/10 – 9/12)