No Place Like Home: Putting the Right People and Practices in Place for Long-Term Success


Developing a Personnel Plan to Accommodate Rapid Growth

According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, over 80,000 people are considered homeless in Chicago. Facing Forward to End Homelessness is dedicated to reducing this number by providing permanent housing, education, advocacy and social services to homeless people and families across the Chicago area.

Since its founding in 1984, Facing Forward’s mission has been to work with the community to end homelessness. During the last five years, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds. That rapid growth has also come with new challenges, however, including increased staffing needs and administrative burdens. Short-handed HR personnel soon realized they needed someone with the expertise to help them not only find the right people for new positions, but also redesign their organizational structure and processes to be sustainable long-term.


A Shared Investment in Success

To achieve those goals, Facing Forward’s director of operations, Robret Simpson, reached out to Kris for assistance with strategic staffing and organizational growth. Robret knew Kris through networking and her work with the Pierce Family Foundation’s Top Talent Institute, giving her confidence that Kris could help Facing Forward develop a roadmap for operational success. Through her extensive experience with small and mid-sized nonprofits, Kris grasped the organization’s mission quickly and helped create processes and policies to assist Facing Forward in sustainable growth and capacity.

The first step was to evaluate the entire organization and create an organized multi-year plan for restructuring, including personnel changes, creating new job descriptions and recommending operational improvements. During phase two, Kris coordinated the search for the development department to find staff with the character, skills and experience to create funding and financial opportunities that would help support Facing Forward’s mission into the future. Phase three involved thoroughly reviewing and updating HR policies to reflect current best practices, as well as completing a compensation study to establish salaries to attract and retain highly qualified candidates.

“Kris has a real commitment to an organization’s mission and vision. Whenever I work with her, I feel like she’s another staff person. And her commitment doesn’t end when the project ends. Her follow-up is outstanding – she has a genuine commitment to the success of the organization.”
Robret Simpson
Robret Simpson
Director of Operations, Facing Forward


An Organization Well-Equipped to Make Homelessness History

Over the past decade, Facing Forward has continued to partner with Kris for ongoing support in recruitment and organizational development. In that time, the nonprofit has more than tripled its size to 40 staff members. Retention is high, and personnel practices are warm, clear and consistent. The budget has grown from $1.5 million in 2008 to more than three times that size in 2019, with actual revenue of $5.4 million. Most importantly, the organization has greatly expanded its capacity, enabling it to now serve more than 800 people in the Chicago area. Without Kris, Robret says, Facing Forward might never have achieved these milestones within that timeline.

“Kris gave us the tools to be successful,” Robret says. “She’s created a better organizational structure to hire better people, and she’s helped us develop into the type of organization we’ve always wanted to be.”