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Taking Care with Compassion | Kenyatta T. Brunson, MSA
Kenyatta T. Brunson, MSA
Driven by her compassion to make lives better for the women of N Street Village, throughout her 25-year career in the nonprofit sector, Kenyatta T. Brunson has worked with individuals from the most vulnerable populations in society: at-risk youth, those with substance use disorders, mental health issues, and the chronically homeless. Her deep spiritual faith is the bedrock of her dedication and commitment to improving the lives of others. The CEO of N Street Village leads with her heart and identifies herself as a “servant leader.”
N Street Village collaborates with their government partners The Department of Human Services and The Community Partnership to provide housing for women who are chronically homeless. They also work very closely with community volunteers to help fulfill their mission and has partnered with women-led and owned organizations to provide resources that help meet the needs of the women they serve, including Bhakti Yoga DC, UPIC Health, Project Knitwell, and Together We Bake.
In addition, the company encourages women at various stages of their careers to join one of their committees to network with fellow business owners while sharing their talents to raise funds and increase awareness of homelessness in Washington, D.C.
Leader & Motivator
Kenyatta takes a personal interest in each team member and gives them the space to grow and develop their skills. She believes her team is the heart of what N Street Village does every day, and the only way to accomplish any goal is to listen to her team and encourage them to strive for excellence. Kenyatta also believes heavily in staff professional development, and allowing people an opportunity to grow and learn is essential to the work that N Street Village does. She re-designed the case management job descriptions and criteria to allow those with lived experience and years of experience working in human services to apply for entry-level Case Manager positions.
This provides a framework for upward mobility into licensed Case Manager positions with training and the offer of professional development funds to obtain the education required for credentialed positions and success.
“I believe that I have always been successful in my career, because I was always able to do what made me happy and brought joy to my life—being of service to others. I have over 25 years of experience and the fact that I am now the President and Chief Executive Officer at N Street Village and the first Black woman to hold this position is indeed the most successful moment in my career and I do not take this responsibility lightly,” says Kenyatta. “My advice that I would like to share is ALWAYS be true to yourself, show up as your authentic self. Everyone’s journey is different so you can only continue to push forward on your journey—you may have to slow down, you may have to take a different route, but NEVER stop.”
Kenyatta believes that leaders recognize the power of empathy, understand their teams, and work towards everyone’s productivity. Being a compassionate leader, Kenyatta takes a genuine interest in all of the staff that works at N Street Village. Getting to know her team—what inspires them to do this work, why do they choose to work at N Street Village, and what makes them who they are—allows her to efficiently make decisions for the organization with a lens into how her decisions may impact those team members both in a positive and/or negative way which ultimately impacts the culture and reputation of the organization.
As the largest provider of housing and supportive services for women experiencing homelessness in D.C., N Street Village is setting the standard within the industry by taking a holistic approach to providing services to women seeking help. They not only provide shelter and nutritious meals, but offer workforce development classes, mental health activities such as yoga and meditation, household supplies and toiletries, and one-on-one substance abuse counseling. Women and girls make up 37 percent of people experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.; 80 percent of N Street Village’s clients are African American, and 53 percent are over 50. Studies show that older women face more chronic health conditions and, on average, die 35 years prematurely. “Our mission is to ensure that the women who come to the Village are welcomed with respect, treated with dignity, and receive access to first-class healthcare,” says Kenyatta.
One of the most significant accomplishments of the foundation was providing robust services during the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside opening three new sites to support the growing need of women experiencing homelessness. They also launched a grocery delivery program for more than 60 permanent supportive housing residents experiencing food insecurity. They provided more than 1,500 hours of virtual and in-person classes to clients and residents.
Kenyatta wants to elevate N Street Village to a national level in the days to come. They want to partner with other women social service providers, share their holistic care vision and provide more trauma-informed services for women. In serving an older population, Kenyatta and her team want to build a housing program geared to their seniors that offers more intensive services, including medical staff and yoga and nutrition classes to help them lead healthy lives. “I also want to venture into affordable housing, not just permanent supportive housing, but affordable housing that incorporates a community setting,” she explains. “Currently I am focused on building a talented executive team. Once I have a team in place I can begin focusing on how to move towards the short term and long term goals in my vision that will continue to build upon our great legacy as an organization such as expanding our vocational center to include educational classes, developing a new strategic plan that includes how we can provide more affordable permanent housing options for women experiencing homelessness.”
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