Crossroads Road Island
Purpose Prize Fellow 2008
Nolan provides comprehensive services for the homeless, including permanent housing.
Nolan was 52 and bored with her 30-year career in corporate management, but she was neither financially or emotionally ready to retire. She just wanted to feel proud and passionate about her work. Visiting a struggling homeless service program, she was inspired by the dedicated staff and knew she could help them grow. Beginning as a board member and absorbing everything possible about poverty and homelessness, Nolan soon became president of the Crossroads Rhode Island agency. Nolan saw that good management would help dedicated staff people do better work with greater satisfaction. She drove Crossroads to implement its core values of Safety, Respect, and Effectiveness with rigorous accounting and management changes. Focusing more on “chasing our mission” and less on “chasing the money” meant the agency ceased its ineffective programs, learned to support its core projects and found the right external partners to provide the other necessary services. Since Nolan assumed leadership at Crossroads in 2001, revenue has doubled and assets increased tenfold. The organization has developed dozens of permanent supportive housing units for singles, families, and disabled homeless adults; the state’s first permanent housing for homeless elders; and has built a new women’s shelter. Any homeless person now has access to comprehensive services at a single location. “As soon as I opened the door of that run-down, dilapidated building, I was overwhelmed with the humanity and pain that was evident in every person in the room. At that moment, I knew I’d found my place.”