A Nonprofit Turnaround Story

Christian W. Dame

by Christian Dame

The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans  (NESHV) faced a crisis. Financial problems had caused the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to suspend state funding and the Board of Directors asked the CEO to resign. The Board then asked NPT’s principal Chris Dame to step in and take charge.

Chris assumed day-to-day operational control of a $6.1 million budget and 125 person staff serving 350 homeless clients daily, plus operating 45 apartments and a job training program for 600 other veterans in a 14 story building in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Meeting the next payroll was problematic. The charge was to make the drastic changes necessary to save the organization from bankruptcy.

Over seven months NPT’s principal Chris Dame worked intensively with the Board of Directors, staff and consultants, and government grantors, to secure additional funding,

New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans

New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans

re-organize the failing development office, complete the annual audit, re-examine the organization’s mission, staffing, and programs with an eye to reform, execute the a major reduction in force upon a program cancellation, and create a positive media image. All this was accomplished while continuing daily services to homeless clients, rebuilding staff morale, and improving corporate governance.

Chris also completed a major critique of the agency’s programs, staffing, and funding which was presented at the Board’s annual meeting, and set the stage for renewal and growth.

Finally Chris assisted the Board Chairman and the new CEO to effect a rapid and smooth transition to permanent leadership upon his departure. Today the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is living within its budget, has dramatically improved development results, is serving increased numbers of clients, and is winning new government grants to serve veteran of all types.

What people say about Chris Dame’s performance at NESHV

“…you have demonstrated great ability …during difficult times, …and distinguished yourself as a leader gaining the admiration of professional staff, clients, public figures and Board members, …and demonstrated by example …honesty, compassion, courage, generosity and courtesy…you are hereby recognized a true hero.”

Richard F. Griffin, Chairman, New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans