St. Joseph Center President Leaving Organization to Lead LAHSA

25-year veteran of St. Joseph Center will service as serve as CEO of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority

Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, a 15-year veteran of St. Joseph Center, is set to join the administration of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on February 5th, 2023. As part of her new role, she will first lead the Mayor’s Inside Safe initiative, then transition to serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).

“In Dr. Adams Kellum, we are bringing new leadership to LAHSA that is completely aligned with the new spirit of unity and urgency that the City and the County are bringing to our crisis of homelessness,” said Mayor Karen Bass, who called Dr. Adams Kellum was instrumental in developing the City’s new, Inside Safe strategy. “With more than 40,000 unhoused people within the City of Los Angeles and more than 67,000 across the County of Los Angeles, a unified approach is the only way we can make a difference, and that’s exactly the road we’re on.”

Dr. Adams Kellum will continue her work on homelessness and formally start her role as CEO on March 26th. Prior to that, Dr. Adams Kellum will work as a Consultant advising the Mayor’s Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions, helping to build out the encampment resolution component of the Inside Safe Strategy. 

Dr. Adams Kellum joined St. Joseph Center (SJC) in 2008 as its Executive Director and led a tremendous increase in the agency’s reach during her tenure. In just over a decade, St. Joseph Center has gone from assisting 6,000 people annually with a staff of 100 and $5 million budget to 13,000 people each year with 400 employees and a $50 million budget.

“I am proud of the work LAHSA has been able to accomplish over the last few years, including making more than 64,000 housing placements over the last three years. I’m excited that Dr. Adams Kellum will join us to lead a new era of unity and cooperation,” said LAHSA Commission Chair Wendy Greuel. “Many of us have been working for years to create more regional alignment, and I know the selection of Dr. Adams Kellum is a huge step in the right direction.”

Most recently this past summer 2021, Dr. Adams Kellum spearheaded an operation between City and County partners on Ocean Front Walk in Venice that found housing for 213 unhoused individuals and eliminated major encampments at the beach; 70% of those previously living at the beach remain housed today due to her efforts.

“This is another example of the County and the City locking arms, and pushing the reset button in how we are addressing homelessness,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “I will admit I have had my doubts about LAHSA’s work. What LAHSA has done and, frankly, what our county and the city have done so far to address the homelessness crisis, has not worked. But Va Lecia Adams Kellum has been tapped as the new Executive Director of LAHSA because she is someone who has risen to meet the homelessness crisis in a bold way. She has my full support.”

St. Joseph Center’s executive leadership team and Board of Directors will guide the agency through this time of transition. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded St. Joseph Center in 1976, and their current representative on SJC’s Board, Sr. Barbara Anne Stowasser, noted that, “The Center’s staff are the beating heart of the mission and at the core of our vital work. We will miss Va Lecia, but our wonderful and dedicated employees will continue to change lives every day by inspiring people to choose hope, just as St. Joseph Center has done for over 45 years.”

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