Clark County Homeless Coalition welcomes new Executive Director

Published 2:30 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Desserts and other treats were found in the central area of the Clark County Homeless Coalition on Wednesday afternoon.

Such is often the case when new staff arrives and gets welcomed.

At an open house from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., Steve Lenahan was welcomed as the next Executive Director of the Clark County Homeless Coalition.

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He replaces former Executive Director Terry Davidson, who retired after 14 years of service.

“I’m excited today,” Lenahan said. “I’m just super excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity.

Born and raised in Georgetown, Lenahan has been involved in non-profit work and leadership for over 30 years.

Until recently, he spent most of his time outside the commonwealth.

For the last 21 years, he’s been in New Orleans – an area known for its distinctive jazz music, creole cuisine, and Mardi Gras celebration.

By doing various work with non-profit organizations, Lenahan has seen much.

“I’ve served babies to senior citizens and homeless [citizens] down in New Orleans as well,” Lenahan said. “[I] did a lot of Hurricane Katrina work down there.”

Yet, despite his experiences, Lenahan felt it was the right time to return to Kentucky.

“[I] have always missed Kentucky, so always wanted to come back,” Lenahan said. “My kids are graduating high school and in college, so it was time.”

Along with the desire to return to Kentucky, Lenahan saw something in Clark County and the Clark County Homeless Coalition.

“I like small towns. I’ve worked for large non-profits, and I’ve worked for small non-profits. The most important thing for me is to be able to see the mission in action,” Lenahan said. “With small non-profits, you see the mission every day. You see the clients. You see the case managers. You see the workers. You see progress, and you see growth. That was important for me to get back to the grassroots.”

The Clark County Homeless Coalition provides case management, housing assistance programs, and more.

It features a homeless shelter, Wainscott Hall, to help assist through case management, teaching life skills, and more.

In 2022, approximately 84% of participants in the program eventually received permanent housing.

“Sometimes they come in with chemical dependency [or] mental health issues,” Lenahan said. “The new model is housing first. Get them in housing first, and then treat whatever issues they might have.”

The bridge project, which accompanies traditional housing for families, featured 100% of participants moving on to permanent housing in 2022.

The Clark County Homeless Coalition also does street outreach.

Lenahan emphasizes that – while planning to work with many non-profit organizations – a big key to success is support from fellow staff.

“We have had amazing case managers,” Lenahan said. “Every person is different. Every person has different motivations [and] different goals. We try to match what their goals are and what we can provide.”

Lenahan does not need to look far for inspiration, either.

“[I’m] just trying to continue the legacy of our former Executive Director, Terry Davidson,” he said. “She had the vision to start it up. I just want to grow that [and] honor her vision.”