Joyce Willis is retiring after serving for 16 years as Executive Director of the Havens Relief Fund Society. Allison McDermott will succeed Willis as Executive Director.
Havens is a private operating foundation whose mission is to provide direct- but anonymous- financial aid to needy New Yorkers who have temporarily fallen on hard times. The Society was established in 1871 by Charles G. Havens with a gift of $25,000. Upon his death, he left the bulk of his estate, about $1,000,000, to establish the Havens Relief Fund Society. Today, Havens has roughly 150 Almoners -- an old English word meaning official distributor of another person’s charity -- all volunteers, who seek out and address these special cases and report back at year-end to the Board of Managers. The donor, the Havens Relief Fund Society, always remains anonymous.
“Joyce has recruited an impressive roster of Almoners, who work with individuals representing the diverse races, religions and ethnicities living in communities throughout New York City,” said Board President, Dr. Regina Peruggi. “One of Joyce’s key achievements has been strengthening Havens’ work with immigrants, refugees and new Americans. In 2012, Havens made close to three quarters of $1,000,000 in direct grants to nearly 2,200 NYC residents and their families.”
Willis’ professional career has spanned more than four decades of public service, during which time she served as Executive Director for five non-profit agencies. These included agencies serving the elderly, the homeless, incarcerated individuals as well as those recently released, and individuals struggling with mental illness, drug addiction and disease.
Allison McDermott was selected from an impressive group of candidates after a nationwide search. “Our new Executive Director, Allison McDermott, has the background, skills, values, energy and work ethic to ensure the future growth of Havens’ donor base and its strategic goal of doubling the number of beneficiaries by 2021,” says Dr. Peruggi.
McDermott has spent her professional career working in the New York City nonprofit sector. Since 2001, she has been employed with Pro Bono Net, rising to the position of Deputy Director in 2005. Pro Bono Net is a nonprofit whose mission is to increase access to justice through the innovative use of technology by legal aid and pro bono organizations in New York City and across the country. In her role, she supervised and managed all programmatic activity as well as worked with the Executive Director on all operational issues. Besides extensive experience in applying web-based technology to nonprofit operations, service delivery and fundraising communications, McDermott directed the expansion and replication of the award-winning LawHelp.org across a network of twenty-eight states. Earlier in her career Ms. McDermott worked as a program officer with the former MONY Foundation; as a program coordinator with domestic violence victims at In Motion; and as a case worker for families at risk at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.
McDermott holds a BA from Tufts University and an MS in Social Administration from Columbia University. She will assume her new role on April 1, 2013.