Graham Windham, one of the oldest and most innovative child caring and family service organizations in the United States, has named Kimberly “Kym” Hardy Watson as its new President & CEO, the organization announced today.
Ms. Watson has over three decades of experience working directly with New York families, most recently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Graham Windham. Today’s announcement marks a historic moment in the institution’s 215-year history as an African American woman takes the helm for the first time. Ms. Watson will start as President in March, and as CEO later this year with a bold vision for expanding Graham’s presence in local communities and working with other leaders in NYC to create an inclusive, unbiased approach to helping families keep their children safe, dismantling racism in the child welfare system.
Having briefly spent time herself in New York City’s foster care system, Ms. Watson has truly seen systems and institutions from every angle. Her career began in the 1980s, when she started out as a caseworker during the crack cocaine epidemic. She went on to become an ordained minister, and later also led efforts related to the criminal justice system, creating and implementing Project Reconciliation, for mothers and daughters incarcerated together at Rikers Island.
“Being entrusted with the lives of New York’s children and families is a precious responsibility that I hold dear and take very seriously,” said Kym Hardy Watson, incoming President & CEO of Graham Windham. “Growing up in Brownsville-East New York and raising my own family in Bedford Stuyvesant, I have both been on the stage and had a front-row seat for the everyday drama of life of these underserved communities that I love. As I step into this new role, it is an honor and a privilege to work alongside families from my own neighborhood here in Brooklyn and across the city. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead Graham towards a more racially inclusive and socially responsible future for our children and families.”
Anchored by her work serving families whose voice she centers in all of her work, Ms. Watson is gearing up to expand the ways the agency is integrated into the communities it serves, while also working with partners to dismantle racist policies and practices. In particular, she will join the call to restructure mandated reporter systems and increase investments in local communities to subvert the cycle of poverty. She is also prepared to expand Graham’s innovative coaching programs and community centers for children, youth and parents proven to provide the opportunity and support families have said they want the most to help them thrive.
Graham Windham has pioneered programs for New York City’s children, families and communities since its founding by a group of dedicated, forward-looking women including Eliza Hamilton in 1806. The organization provides youth and family programs at 11 community-based sites in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Services include in-home family support services, school & community-based service centers, mental health and wellness services, family foster care, and youth coaching.
Read the full announcement from Graham Windham.