Child caring and family service organization Graham Windham recently announced that current Chief Operating Officer Kimberly “Kym” Hardy Watson will soon be telling Eliza Hamilton’s story as the new President and CEO of the private nonprofit. Watson will be the first person of color to run the historic organization.
“As Graham Windham embarks on its 215th year of dedicated service on behalf of our City’s children and families, the Board of Directors is proud to announce that it has unanimously and enthusiastically elected Kimberly Hardy Watson as the organization’s next President and CEO,” said Georgia Wall, Graham Board Chairman. “We recognize Kym’s deep-seated commitment to Graham’s mission and to our children, our families and the entire team. She understands our people, communities and systems from a deeply personal perspective and that understanding combined with decades of leadership in the field makes her without question the best person to lead Graham into its next chapter.”
With over three decades of experience under her belt, as well as brief experience as a foster youth herself, Watson has seen New York City’s systems and institutions from every angle. After studying at Baruch College, CUNY, and Fordham University, Watson’s career began in the 1980s as a caseworker during the crack cocaine epidemic. She went on to become an ordained minister, and later led efforts to improve the criminal justice system. Through her work in the community, Watson keeps family in the center of everything she does.
“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 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.”
Watson has a vision for expanding and integrating Graham’s local presence in the community. She plans to work with other leaders in NYC to create an inclusive approach to help families keep their children safe as well as dismantle racist policies and practices in the child welfare system. In particular, Watson will call to restructure the system of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. She also sets out to increase investments in the community that provide opportunity and support in the hopes of ending the cycle of poverty.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead Graham towards a more racially inclusive and socially responsible future for our children and families,” said Watson.
Watson will start her role as President in March. Later this year, she will become CEO. This is the first time in the institution’s history that an African American woman holds this position. The position of President and CEO is being passed down to Watson by Jess Dannhauser.
“Transitioning leadership over the course of the year to Kym is my great honor. She and I share a deep commitment to our kids, families and team; they inspire us everyday. In Kym, they have a most extraordinary leader,” said Dannhauser, Graham’s current President & CEO. “She has the vision, integrity, empathy and commitment to justice and opportunity that will help them thrive in life.”
Graham Windham was founded by a group of women, including the infamous Eliza Hamilton, in New York City in 1806. The organization provides youth and family services at 11 community-based sites in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The private nonprofit organization employs approximately 450 staff and manages over 1,500 volunteers and supporters. Graham Windham’s kids, families and team come together to help over 4,000 young New Yorkers and their families thrive each year.
For more information, visit Graham Windham’s website.