In its last meeting of 2017, the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless (ATFH) accepted the retirement of its Board chair, Charles Steffen, Ph.D., and then named one of its members, Warren Smith, as the next Board chair, effective January 1, 2018.
Steffen has served the ATFH and the Board for eight years and had been a part of the leadership team that successfully negotiated an acrimonious legal settlement with Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) in August. Since then, the Task Force has worked with Continuum of Care/Partners for Home to help relocate current residents of the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter into other suitable facilities and into permanent homes.
Warren Smith brings more than 20 years of professional experience in domestic and international business and nonprofit management and operations, including nine years at Hormel Foods Corporation. He has previously volunteered with the Savannah Chapter of the Red Cross, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and many other nonprofits. Smith is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in international politics and law, a master’s in public administration, and completed two years of coursework toward a doctorate in administration.
Community activists Anita and Jim Beaty began protesting the treatment of homeless people in Atlanta some 30 years ago, and their fight led to the creation of the Task Force, the first advocacy voice for the homeless in the city. The Beatys retired from the organization before the settlement, but their cause morphed into a movement that changed the conversation about homelessness.
“We must and we will become a stronger voice and advocate for building more affordable housing, promoting healthcare for the homeless, decriminalizing poverty, and securing jobs for those without employment opportunities.
Carl Hartrampf, executive director of ATFH, who succeeded Anita Beaty, commented on the new change of leadership: “Dr. Steffen has been an integral part of the organization’s growth, helping us to secure important services and partnerships for the homeless men, women and children served by ATFH. We will miss Chuck, but wish him and his wife the very best on a much-deserved, happy retirement. At the same time, we are honored that Mr. Smith will step into this important role at this pivotal time for ATFH.”
In his remarks accepting the chairmanship, Smith stated: “We must and we will become a stronger voice and advocate for building more affordable housing, promoting healthcare for the homeless, decriminalizing poverty, and securing jobs for those without employment opportunities. We have long been defined by the Peachtree/Pine facility where we were located. Now, with the legal settlement behind us, I believe we can become even a stronger advocate for all causes of homelessness and work with other groups with similar aspirations to solve these deeply rooted societal problems.”
“I am extremely humbled and proud,” Smith said, “to take up the strong mantle that Dr. Steffen has built and to work alongside Carl, the other distinguished members of the Board, ATFH staff and volunteers, and all of our partnering agencies and businesses as we chart our new path forward.”
Board member Joe Beasley stated, “Although Warren has been on the Board a short time, he’s shown tremendous commitment and skills, and we will benefit from his strong background working with nonprofit organizations. As we refocus our advocacy for the homeless in Atlanta, we are delighted he has agreed to lead us at this critical time. “
About the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
As the largest shelter in the U.S. Southeast, the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless (ATFH) has served the Atlanta community for more than 30 years. Its two-fold mission provides direct homeless services and advocates for policies and programs that combat the root causes of homelessness. Those causes are: the lack of affordable housing, the shortage of jobs that provide living wages, the criminalization of homelessness and poverty, and inadequate healthcare and food insecurity. The ATFH assists individuals in obtaining permanent housing, employment, vision screenings, addiction recovery placement, assistance with obtaining social security benefits, obtaining identification, HIV testing, and referrals for medical and psychiatric care.