Lawrence Community Shelter director position now posted, offering $90K-$120K salary

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The Lawrence Community Shelter board of directors has posted the executive director position, launching a search for a permanent leader for the organization.

The board on Nov. 1 held an executive session, or closed-door meeting, then voted to open a national search for a permanent executive director.

Interim Executive Director Melanie Valdez, hired as the shelter’s director of finance and operations in September 2021, started her current position in April 2022. In the years prior to Valdez’s move into the interim role, the shelter had seen a good deal of turnover in leadership, among other challenges.

The shelter recently moved to a shared governance model between the board, City of Lawrence and Douglas County. In addition, shelter staff members recently announced their plans to unionize.

The summary of the job description is largely focused on several duties that the board agreed during its meeting last week that the shelter would take on. (Read more about that at this link.)

It states: “To ensure Lawrence Community Shelter remains responsive to the evolving needs of our community and individuals facing homelessness, the Executive Director will be expected to the address the following immediate priorities and future opportunities:
● Expanding immediate access low-barrier emergency shelter services, especially during inclement weather, to support single adults experiencing homelessness.
● Enhancing warehouse space utilization to increase capacity for our night-by-night program and to create a more segmented environment for distinct populations.
● Implementing shelter options through the use of pallet shelters in an adjacent parking lot.
● Establishing a community outreach and day center facility that provides essential hygiene services such as bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities, to promote dignity and public health, and space for community partners to offer additional supportive services.
● Managing an off-site pallet shelter ‘village’ with communal facilities for hygiene and storage, providing vital support to those in need.
● Ensuring single women and families with children have immediate access to low-barrier emergency shelter services.
● Collaborating with community partners to reduce the Douglas County Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count for unsheltered individuals by 50 percent.”

The executive director position lists a salary of $90,000 to $120,000 annually, commensurate with experience. The job description says the position will require a minimum of five years of nonprofit leadership, financial management and supervision experience focused on homelessness.

Shelter board members said last week that they want to seek community feedback in the search for a director. They also want shelter employees and guests to be represented in the hiring process.

“I think it’d be great to have an opportunity for there to be a public forum on (finalist) candidates,” board member Elizabeth Keever said last week.

Here’s the full job description (click here to open it in a new tab). The job is posted on Indeed for those who are interested in applying.


Valdez did not immediately respond to an email Thursday asking whether she thinks she’ll apply for the position, and if there are any specific qualities and qualifications that she, as the person who has been at the helm of the shelter for more than a year now, would like to see in the next director.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Nov. 28. That’s shortly before the shelter board’s next planned meeting, set for Nov. 30, with exact time and location details TBA.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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