New Leader Appointed at Homeless Empowerment Project/Spare Change News

Adam Sennott
Spare Change News

The Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP)/Spare Change News recently announced the hiring of its new Executive Director.

Vincent Flanagan, who previously served as Development Director for Legal Affairs for Give Us Your Poor, was hired to replace outgoing interim Executive Director Bob Woodbury on May 17. Flanagan stated that he and HEP were extremely grateful to Woodbury, a member of the Board of Directors, for his willingness to serve as interim director during the period that a new director was being sought and for the excellent job that he did.

Flanagan has over 30 years of high-level legal and executive managerial experience. He served in various senior level and managerial positions during his 25-year career with the federal judiciary. In 1988, Flanagan was appointed Circuit Executive (Chief Executive Officer) for the United States Courts for the First Circuit. During his career with the judiciary, Flanagan published numerous scholarly articles and served as special advisor to the Federal Court Study Committee, established to examine and propose changes to the work and structure of the federal court system. In 1993, Flanagan was the recipient of the Director’s Award for Outstanding Leadership, the highest award given to a non-judicial officer in the federal judiciary.

As Director of the Homeless Empowerment Project, Flanagan said his first priority was to develop both a strategic plan for moving the organization forward and a business plan to capitalize on established ways of fundraising, develop new areas to secure additional revenue for HEP and examine possible areas of costs savings.

After meeting with various members of the board, staff members and volunteers, Flanagan stated that it was clear that there was a consensus that the new director needed to focus on bringing stability to the organization, reinforcing a sense of professionalism and establishing a more formal organizational structure.

Flanagan stated that he believed that there needed to be a more formal vendors’ training program and orientation. He also stated that the newspaper needed to attract more writers and to find ways to raise money to reimburse freelance writers. He expressed a strong desire to examine ways to bolster the support for the editorial staff. In addition, Flanagan discussed revitalizing HEP’s educational efforts, speaker’s bureau and exploring other areas in which HEP can help address the many issues facing the homeless population.

Flanagan said he first expressed interest in working with the homeless when a friend introduced him to the work of the New York Coalition for Shelter shortly after he graduated from law school. He stated, however, that his 60-plus-hour work week made it impossible for him to make a significant contribution to the coalition, so he put his charitable aspirations on hold. In 2001, when Flanagan stepped down as Circuit Executive, assuming a role as a special advisor to the Chief Judge of the First Circuit, he realized that he was in a position to explore the volunteer opportunities that he had wanted to pursue since graduating law school.

Shortly thereafter, he read an article in Spare Change on Give Us Your Poor (GUYP), an organization dedicated to educating the public about homelessness. Flanagan called to offer his services and joined the organization initially to chair their development board and participate in their educational and fundraising efforts.

Presently, Flanagan is completing a project for GUYP aimed at increasing the number of attorneys and funding available to represent homeless and near homeless individuals and families with a vast array of legal problems. Flanagan noted that John McGah, Executive Director and founder of Give Us Your Poor, recently took a position with the National Center on Family Homelessness. The National Center has agreed to support the ongoing work of GUYP. Although he hopes to continue a relationship with GUYP, Flanagan stated that the project regarding increasing legal services will be his last major effort for the organization as he transitions to his new position as Executive Director of the Homeless Empowerment Project.

Flanagan expressed his gratitude for being given the opportunity to be the new Executive Director of the Homeless Empowerment Project/Spare Change News and is looking forward to a long and successful partnership.

ADAM SENNOTT is the former editor of Spare Change News.

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