CHRIS 180 | Leadership
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Click on any of the names below to get more detailed information:

Kathy Colbenson, LMFT, President and Chief Executive Officer

Kathy 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 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.  New programs include the opening the Southeast’s first program for homeless youth that targeted outreach to LGBTQ youth in January 2000, creating the first supportive housing program in the state for homeless youth and youth aging out of foster care in 2010, creating new trauma-informed models for service delivery and adoption, 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; and in 2013, Kathy was honored to receive the Turknett Leadership Character Award. CHRIS 180 programs, services, and staff have been recognized for expertise and leadership in trauma-informed care.  Recent recognitions include the TeleHealth Facility of the Year Award from the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth for the CHRIS Counseling Center, and our Keeping Families Together Program received the National Innovation and Excellence Program Award from the National Center for Excellence and Innovation. Additionally, CHRIS 180 is the two-time winner of the Managing for Excellence Award (1998 & 2011) from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. In 2019, Kathy was honored as one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEO’s. Kathy is married, has two daughters, three dogs, three cats and enjoys hiking, gardening, traveling, and photography.

Cindy Simpson, MA & Ed.S., Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Cindy has more than 35 years of experience working in Georgia’s social welfare, youth homelessness, and mental health systems. As COO of CHRIS 180, Cindy has developed several new programs including the TransitionZ program at Summit Trail, a 44-unit supportive housing apartment complex for homeless and transition-age youth with a mental health diagnosis; the Drop-In Center for homeless youth and young adults; the Voices Against Violence curriculum; a trauma-informed care training model (Trauma STARs); an LGBTQ training program; and a trauma informed adoption services model for special needs youth in foster care. Cindy is also a published author with articles on subjects such as adolescent substance abuse and behavior management.

 

Cindy has led advocacy efforts in the modifications of state delivery systems and for LGBTQ youth in foster care helping to develop guidelines that enable LBGTQ youth to feel valued and accepted. In 2011, Cindy was awarded the Gayle Bayes Vision for Children award for her leadership in social services. In 2015, the CHRIS Counseling Center received the TeleHealth Facility of the year award and in 2016 the Keeping Families Together program received the National Innovation and Excellence Program award from the National Center for Excellence and Innovations. Cindy earned her BA from DePauw University and her MA and Ed.S from the University of Georgia.  She is a mother of six adopted sons.

 

Publications:

Gillis, H.L. & Simpson, C. (1991). Adventure-based counseling: An introduction and specific applications for substance abusing adolescents. Child and Adolescent Newsline, 2(2), 1-3.

Gillis, H.L. & Simpson, C. (1990) Project Choices: Beginning a model program for drug using adolescents. In R. Flor (Ed.) Proceedings Journal of the 18th Annual AEE Conference. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education, (pp.71-73).

“Behavior Management through Adventure” a group model approach in de-escalation, reduction of explosive behaviors and reduction of physical restraints, 2004

Mark Phillips, MBA, CPA, Chief Financial Officer

Mark joined CHRIS  180 in 2015 with more than 30 years of experience in finance. During his career, Mark served as CFO, Consultant, VP of Finance, and Controller for large public, and small and mid-size private entities in the distribution, non-profit, technology, manufacturing, airline, hospitality, and real estate industries. Mark’s experience includes financial leadership, raising capital, controllership, financial reporting, turnarounds, bankruptcies, and financial analysis in non-profit, public, and in rapidly growing and distressed private companies. Mark is a licensed CPA and holds an MBA from Georgia State University’s Executive Program.

 

Kevin Clift, Chief Development Officer

Kevin joined CHRIS180 in 2018 with over over 30 years of non-profit experience in fundraising and program management at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, based in Washington, DC.  He was most recently the Director of HRC’s midlevel giving program, the Federal Club.  Clift is a graduate of the School for International Training and American University’s Washington College of Law.  He is the father of an adopted son.  He and his partner have two children and reside in Atlanta.

Melissa Robinson Graves, MS, LMFT, Director of School-Based Mental Health Services

Melissa Robinson Graves is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 18 years of experience serving children, adolescents, adults and families in community, school and private settings in Florida and Georgia. She has extensive experience managing multi-million dollar budgets, implementing start-up of system change, and developing programs in private, nonprofit and government sectors. Melissa has worked extensively with individuals and organizations involved in the mental health, juvenile justice and child welfare systems. She worked for the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities overseeing and implementing programming and best practices for the emerging adult population and enhancing statewide adoption of System of Care principles. She was a member of the Interagency Directors Team, a workgroup of the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, which promotes an integrated approach to children and adolescent system of care policy and practices in Georgia.

In 2015, she joined CHRIS 180 as the Director of Training and directed the planning, development and implementation of training programs for internal staff and helping professionals in the community. She led the organization’s efforts to educate social service professionals and educators on understanding and implementing trauma-informed care practices at the individual and organizational levels. In late 2018 Melissa transitioned into the role of Director of Strategic Initiatives and currently executes and sustains key external and internal strategic initiatives including school-based mental health services, addressing community trauma and employee engagement and recognition activities. Melissa earned her BA in Psychology from Georgia State University in Atlanta in 1998 and her MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale in 2000.

 

Chaundra Luckett, Director, Marketing and Communications

Chaundra Luckett joined CHRIS 180 in 2018, with more than 12 years of journalism, marketing, communications and nonprofit public relations experience. A graduate of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Chaundra’s award-winning career in television news helps her bring a unique insight to her work leading the strategic communications and marketing efforts for CHRIS 180.

 

Prior to her arrival at CHRIS 180, Chaundra spent several years as the Public Relations Manager at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the largest hunger-relief organization in the Southeast. At the Food Bank, Chaundra led and contributed to both paid and earned media campaigns around major fundraising and awareness events. Chaundra came to the Food Bank after spending 10 years in the television news industry. She has worked at television stations across the Southeast, producing newscasts, webcasts, current events shows, election night coverage and breaking news while leading teams of all sizes. She is a three time Southeast Emmy Award Nominee, a 2017 Telly Award winner and in 2011 was honored with the Associated Press Award for South Carolina’s Best Newscast. In 2019, she was honored to be in the inaugural Forty Under 40 Class presented by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

 

Chaundra is an avid community volunteer,  serving in civic roles throughout Atlanta. She is a member of The Ivy League of South Gwinnett- an official Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc. Interest Group, the Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., Parliamentarian for the Atlanta Chapter of the Bennett College National Alumnae Association and a member of the Atlanta HBCU Alumni Alliance. Chaundra, is graduate of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2019, a member of the LEAD Atlanta Alumni Association and serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

 

Additionally, she resides in Brookhaven and is a member of Buckhead Church, where she volunteers with the college ministry.

Rita Mathis, LCSW, Director, CHRIS Training Institute

Rita Mathis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over thirty years experience  in the mental health field. As  the Director of Training for the CHRIS 180 Training Institute, Rita is responsible for designing and overseeing training programs at CHRIS 180  for clinical professionals and for the community at large. Rita leverages her experience as a seasoned therapist and a clinical supervisor to apply innovative methods of helping other helping professionals develop and harness their skills.

Rita  has been a mental health therapist for over ten years and  is passionate about helping clients address mental health issues that negatively impact their lives through a variety of approaches, including  Trauma Informed Treatment modalities, Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She also provides supervision for other clinician professionals to ensure that they continue to develop their skills for the benefit of their clients and has a specialty in working with LGBTQ+ clients.

Monica McGannon, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Fulton County Behavioral Health - Child, Adolescent & Young Adults

monica-mcgannon_2016

Monica has 29 years of experience in the field of mental health including, forensics, child and adolescents, refugees, substance abuse, and hospice. She oversees CHRIS 180’s contracted services with Fulton County Behavioral Health for children, adolescents, and young adults. She has been an active volunteer with the American Red Cross since 1988 serving as a Disaster Mental Health Clinician. Monica has been deployed on numerous disasters including California earthquakes and Atlanta floods. She is a certified grief counselor, and a public speaker for professional conferences, both locally and nationally. Monica is passionate about helping low-income and underserved people get high quality treatment.

Selima Morrow, MSW, Director of Outreach & Community Housing

Selima Morrow is an advocate for equality and believes every person deserves the right to be safe in stable housing. She has 27 years of program development, cultivating partnerships, social services in many diverse communities. Selima passionately supports the needs of youth who are experiencing homelessness, trauma, and mental illness through trauma-informed service delivery to guide individuals and help them achieve their own emotional and physical stability.

Selima holds a Bachelors of Arts from Temple University and a Masters of Social Work degree from Clark Atlanta University. Additionally, Selima has professional development certificates in effective black parenting, trauma-informed services, crisis interventions, supervision and management and program development. Selima is committed to achieving results through advocacy, program and policy development for those individuals who are battling homelessness and mental illness in underserved communities of Atlanta.

Emily Thompson, MS, Vice President, Community Programs

Emily joined CHRIS 180 in 2007 and has more than 17 years experience working within Georgia’s social welfare and mental health systems. At CHRIS 180, Emily has been an innovator of change, developing several successful programs to address the gaps in services for family and children, including the inception of the CHRIS Counseling Center, statewide intensive community-based wraparound services, the adoptions program, and reentry services for young adults. She chairs the DeKalb Local Interagency Planning Team and is part of several committees including the DeKalb Board of Health Coalition and Region 3 Crisis Collaborative. The Keeping Families Together department received the 2016 Program of the Year award from the National Center of Excellence and Innovation under her leadership. Emily earned her BS and MS degrees in Psychology from Georgia College and State University. She is a passionate advocate for at-risk youth and their families within the mental health systems of Georgia and is working to change the systems to better suit those that historically would fall through the cracks.

Brittney Walters, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, CHRIS Counseling Center and Director, Transitionz and Drop in Center

Brittney joined the CHRIS 180 family in 2017 and brings a diversified background of Mental Health experience to the team. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy. She obtained both her BS in Child and Family Development and MSW at the University of Georgia. Prior to joining the CHRIS 180 team, Brittney worked for several years at a local psychiatric residential treatment facility as Unit Director and Clinical Program Manager, responsible for supervising the long-term care and treatment of children with both acute and chronic psychiatric disorders, complex trauma backgrounds, and co-occurring developmental disabilities.  She also has extensive experience working in outpatient Community Service Boards across the state of Georgia specializing in assessment, crisis intervention, and individual/group therapy. Within her many roles at CHRIS 180, Brittney is honored to work with a robust team of Clinical Supervisors, Program Managers, Therapists, Community Support Individuals, Life Coaches, and Administrative Staff. She aims to ensure that individuals receive the most effective and highest quality mental health services both in the clinic, as well as in the community.

Traci Willis, M.Ed, Ed.S, LPC, JourneyZ Director

Traci Willis, joined the CHRIS 180 team in 2016 with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  She is a licensed professional counselor that has over 15 years of experience in the social services field.  She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Business, Master’s of Education in Counseling and Human Development, and an Educational Specialist in Community Counseling.  She is a graduate of Auburn University Montgomery.   Prior to joining the CHRIS 180 staff, Traci was a MST Supervisor that supervised Master’s level therapist, while also carrying a caseload as a therapist.  Traci has experience in mental health counseling, CPS work, advocacy, case management, supervising clinical staff, substance abuse, anger management training, and working with youth with autism.  As the JourneyZ Director; Traci has strategic and operational responsibility for all areas of the JourneyZ Program with supervision of the Program Managers, JourneyZ staff, the physical plant of the homes, coaching, support, and assisting the Program Managers with the supervision of the Social Services Coordinators and House Supervisors; along with the operation of JourneyZ intake.  Traci strives to ensure she advocates for youth as well as staff.  She has a desire to ensure that the JourneyZ Program is a place where we make houses homes.

Board of Directors

Susan O’Farrell (Chair), BlueLinx

Julia Houston (Vice Chair), Equifax
Debbie Sessions (Treasurer), Porter Keadle Moore, LLC
Cyril Turner (Secretary), Year Up

Gabe Banks, Weathington McGrew

Jay Bernath, C&S Meats

Isys Caffey, Stripe Reputation
Ron Carmichael, Verifone

Emily Chambers, Cox Media Group
Kathy Colbenson, CHRIS 180

Lenore Cusick, CIBC Private Wealth Management
Todd Ellis, KMPG

April Estes, PwC

Mona B. Harty, Delta Air Lines

Kevin Heath, Georgia-Pacific
Susan Somersille Johnson, SunTrust Bank

Robert “Bo” Keatley, Savills Studley

Rob Kight, Delta Air Lines
Paula Larson, Dugan Unlimited

Valarie Mackey, WrightNow Solutions

Hon. Todd Markle, Superior Court of Fulton County

Maney Mazloom, MM Investment Holdings

Terrin McKay, Community Volunteer

Araya Mesfin, UBS

J. Scott Mosteller, Genuine Parts Company

Terry Russell, FrontDoor Communities
Becca Sherrill, BMC Software, Inc

Maria Smith, Federal Reserve Bank

Steve Tedder, Live Oak Capital Partners

Rebecca Woods, Seyfarth Shaw

Advisory Council

The Honorable T. Jackson Bedford, Jr., Fulton County Government (Co-Chair)
Nandy Millner, Merrill Lynch Private Bank  (Co-Chair)
Pamela Babineau, Home Depot

Alice Ball, Community Volunteer

Angele Barrow, New Hope Enterprises

Patty Bedford, Community Volunteer

Brian Bowling, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Kathy Bremer, BoardWalk Consulting

Kenneth F. Britt, Alston & Bird LLP (ret.)

Ann Cramer, Coxe Curry & Associates

Cheryl Custer, Community Volunteer

D.J. Dammann, AT&T

Carolyn C. Donnelly, CIBC Private Wealth Management

Curley Dossman, Jr., Georgia-Pacific Foundation

Chad Duncan, Accenture
Ken Felts, NFP Executive Benefits

Robert S. Harkey, Delta Air Lines (ret).
Marc Heilweil, Gratus Capital
Doug Hooker, Atlanta Regional Commission
Tad M. Hutcheson, Delta Air Lines
Melissa Jewkes, Community Volunteer

Jonathon Karron, Community Volunteer
J.D. Kellum, Keller Williams Realty
Robert L. Karem, UBS Financial Services, Inc. Private Wealth Management

B. Mitchell King, Georgia Power
Kip Kirkpatrick, Alston & Bird LLP (ret.)

Bertram L. Levy, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP

Sheila Lowden, HR Partners, Inc.

Kristen McGuffey, Serta Simmons Bedding

William M. Muller, Community Volunteer

Martha Pacini, Community Volunteer

Claudia Patton, Edelman

Brooke Pendleton, Community Volunteer
Marietta G. Petters, Community Volunteer
Eric Pittman, Vital Solutions
Dr. Mark Rapaport, Emory University School of Medicine

Natalie Ross, BrightBlue Partners
Arnie Silverman, Silverman Construction Project Management

Carla Smith, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.

Sheila Weidman-Farley, Georgia-Pacific

Mark Weinstein, Brightwell Talent Solutions

Karen Wilbanks, The Robert & Polly Dunn Foundation

Gil Wolchock, Philotek
Curtis Wooten, Community Volunteer
Frank Wrenn, Habitat for Humanity International

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