The West End Residences Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Jeannette K. Ruffins, MSW as the Executive Director/CEO effective July 9, 2018.
As Executive Director, Ms. Ruffins will lead the 29 year old social service organization in furthering its mission to provide safe and supportive transitional and permanent housing. West End Residences’ model is rooted in providing comprehensive services to assist homeless and formerly homeless youth, families, and older adults live more independent and productive lives.
Ms. Ruffins joins West End Residences (WER) after serving as the Senior Vice President for Affordable and Supportive Housing at Bailey House in New York where she oversaw operations for the housing portfolio including managing an $11 million operating budget. During her 13 year tenure at Bailey House, she helped to grow the number of programs serving clients from 3 to 14, increase the operating budget from $4.5 million to its current size and expand the major funding base for the organization from two to seven.
Prior to her employment at Bailey House, Ms. Ruffins worked for fourteen years at HELP USA, ending her tenure there as the Executive Director of HELP 1, where she oversaw daily operations of the 191 unit transitional shelter for homeless families, directly supervising the Departments of Social Services, Early Childhood Education and Youth Services.
She has also served as an Adjunct Lecturer at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Social Work, and Brooklyn College’s School of Education lecturing in the areas of advocacy; social justice; and the impact of race, class and culture in urban education.
As the Co-Chair of the New York City Coalition on the Continuum of Care, Ms. Ruffins provides leadership in the prevention and eradication of homelessness in NYC and shared oversight of federal McKinney-Vento funding to over 60 grantees.
Ms. Ruffins has a Master of Social Work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Services Administration and a BA in Psychology from Northwestern University
The selection of Jeannette Ruffins by the Board of Directors followed an extensive search to find a successor to the current Executive Director, Colleen Jackson who will retire at the end of June 2018. Ms. Ruffins will build upon the strong foundation and award winning programs that Ms. Jackson built during her 28 years with West End Residences HDFC.
In 1990, Colleen Jackson joined West End Residences as the Director of Operations when the organization managed and provided services to residents of a single intergenerational residence. After becoming the Executive Director six years later, she spent much of her time promoting the need for a specialized approach for adolescent mothers and kids, as well as resisting City efforts to convert the Tier II facility into a generalized shelter. In those early years, Colleen prioritized the development of more intergenerational programming such as expanding the Women’s Empowerment Circle to include the senior residents after recognizing that many of them were survivors of domestic violence as well.
Ms. Jackson’s first major accomplishment as the Executive Director was to restructure the organization’s debt which put it on the firm financial footing that it experiences today. Following that initial action she pushed to expand the organization’s reach and impact by taking on the provision of light touch and property management services for two Sisters of Charity residential sites.
In collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, Colleen introduced the WER Board of Directors to the idea of providing supportive housing for LGBT homeless youth. In order to make that dream a reality, she served as the project promoter with lending institutions, social service designer with funding agencies and project manager for the development of the True Colors Residence (TCR) in Manhattan, which was the first of its kind in New York State.
She pushed for, and was ultimately successful in, using the NY/NY III funds creatively to serve the target population without being constrained by age limits or required move out times. To institutionalize that policy across New York State and the country, she worked in collaboration with CSH, to author and present this new concept of “Non-time-limited Housing for Youth” and the True Colors Supportive Housing model. As a result of her work, the current NY15/15 agreement, that funds the city’s supportive housing, calls for a non-time-limited approach to young adult supportive housing.
Having successfully developed and launched the True Colors Residence in Manhattan, she set out to replicate that housing for LGBT youth across the city. To that end, in 2016, she completed the development of the second True Colors residences located in the Bronx. To set the organization on a course to achieve the mission of a True Colors residence in each of the five city boroughs, Ms. Jackson has initiated the development of the third and fourth True Colors residences in Brooklyn and Queens. By housing LGBT youth and LGBT seniors together in the same building, the Brooklyn residence will be another first of its kind for WER and for the City of New York.
Her impact on this vulnerable population was not limited to just NYC. Colleen has advised non-profit groups in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia; the states of New Jersey and Connecticut, and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, on the True Colors model of supportive housing. A direct outcome of her consultations is a residence for LGBT homeless youth in New Haven, CT, which is nearing completion.
Colleen has served as President of Homeless Services United and currently sits on the Corporation for Supportive Housing Metro Region Advisory Board. She is also on the Advisory Board of Bee’s Fund, a private family foundation for LBT women 18-24 years of age who have no family resources or support.
The West End Board of Directors thanks Colleen for her outstanding and compassionate leadership and inspirational legacy of serving the most vulnerable homeless young adults with award-winning housing and quality supportive services.
Please join us in wishing Colleen well as she begins the next chapter of her life, and in extending a warm welcome to Jeannette as she joins the West End Residences team.