“Don’t Get Overwhelmed by the Headlines: How you can make a difference”
Feb 04, 2020 12:00 PM
Kathy Colbenson, LMFT, President & CEO, CHRIS 180
“Don’t Get Overwhelmed by the Headlines: How you can make a difference”

Kathy Colbenson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 40 years of experience. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of CHRIS 180 since 1987. Under her leadership, CHRIS 180 has grown to include eight group homes, a permanent supportive housing program, a counseling center, a comprehensive community program designed to strengthen families, a drop-in center for homeless youth and young adults, an adoption program, a homeless outreach and community housing program, the At-Promise Center in partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation, an Integrated Health Clinic and a training institute – all of which focus on behavioral health, recovering from the impact of childhood trauma, and helping people develop the skills necessary for self-sufficiency.

 Over the years, Kathy has provided consistent leadership through innovation and initiatives that break down barriers and result in outreach and help for underserved, invisible populations.  Programs include operating the state’s first program (1986) for youth aging out of foster care, creating the Southeast’s first program for homeless youth with targeted outreach to LGBTQ youth (2000), creating the first supportive housing program in the state for homeless youth and youth aging out of foster care (2010), creating new trauma-informed models for service delivery and adoption(2013), developing a trauma training program (2014), and many other positive changes in services for children and families throughout the state.

 In 2003, Kathy was humbled to receive the Dan Bradley Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign; in 2010 Kathy was recognized with the Evelyn Ullman Innovative Leadership Award; in 2013, Kathy was honored to receive the Turknett Leadership Character Award; in 2019, Kathy was named one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs and in 2020 Kathy was named one of Atlanta’s 500 Most Influential Leaders.  Kathy is particularly proud that CHRIS 180 programs, services, and staff have been recognized for expertise and leadership in trauma-informed care and innovation. Recent recognitions include the TeleHealth Facility of the Year Award from the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth for the CHRIS Counseling Center, and the National Innovation and the Excellence Program Award from the National Center for Excellence and Innovation for our Keeping Families Together Program.  Additionally, CHRIS 180 is the two-time winner of the Managing for Excellence Award (1998 & 2011) from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Kathy’s passions include volunteerism and donating to many social and environmental causes. In addition to CHRIS 180, Kathy is a former Board member and supporter of the East Atlanta Kids Club, an advisor for Bearing Bikes, was appointed by Governor Deal to serve on the Board of the Georgia Commission on Service and Volunteerism and the serves on the Advisory Board for Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta.  Kathy is married, has two grown daughters, three dogs, three cats and enjoys hiking, gardening, traveling and photography. 

INVOCATION:  Jeffrey Smythe