August 10, 2020
My name is Will Connelly and I am proud and humbled to take over for Barbara Quinn as CEO of Park Center. This community owes a debt of gratitude to Barbara for her steadfast leadership. I met Barbara when she hired me in 2006 to lead the SOAR program. I will always remember her willingness to support me and take a chance on creating a new program for people living on the streets who have the highest needs.
I grew up in Nashville. My roots are here. After graduating from a local high school, I studied theology during my undergraduate years and then pursued a Masters of Theology at Vanderbilt University. I felt called to be helpful to those who stand with their backs against the wall. I began my career engaging individuals experiencing homelessness and making connections to housing, entitlements, mental health support, and sometimes just an ear and a cup of coffee. Shortly after that experience, I came to Park Center because its mission fit with my vocation. I led the SOAR program and have worked to end homelessness here in Nashville and across the country ever since. As I move into my new role at Park Center, I’ve been thinking about how we can thrive as an organization in this incredibly tough and uncertain environment.
My goals are simple: continue to provide excellent, evidence-based services in an inclusive, consistent, and radically compassionate way. Everything we do at Park Center should continue to be person-directed, innovative, data-driven, and relational.
Park Center cannot help our community without you. To our community partners, donors, friends, board members, past and present, staff and most of all our clients, my sleeves are rolled up, and I’m ready to dig deep into the challenges that face Nashville and influence the greater cause across the country.