our-house_about-us

About Us

Our Mission

Our House breaks the chains of homelessness by providing quality early childhood education and comprehensive support services for families experiencing homelessness.

History

In 2014, Our House and Genesis Shelter merged to become one organization, serving families experiencing homelessness at two sites under the name and executive leadership of Our House. As a unified organization, we carry the legacy of an exceptional early childhood education center and emergency shelter.

History of Our House

Our House opened its doors in March 1988 to offer reliable, free childcare to metro Atlanta families experiencing homelessness. The founders, a group of local community volunteers along with Reverend Joanna Adams, took notice that families experiencing homelessness were required to leave emergency shelters early every morning—despite the weather conditions, despite the health status of all family members, and regardless of whether or not they had anywhere to go. The parents of these families, mostly single mothers, were given a relatively short amount of time to secure both employment and other housing before being required to permanently leave their shelters. Moved by this hardship, the founders realized that without reliable childcare, these parents were trapped in the cycle of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.

Our House founders also understood that to effectively combat homelessness, programs and services had to address the root causes of homelessness: lack of child care, lack of education, and lack of work skills among parents experiencing homelessness.

Our House grew to meet these needs by offering year-round, free, NAEYC accredited childcare; comprehensive support services for families; and a credential-earning job-training program.

History of Genesis Shelter

Genesis Shelter was founded in 1994 in response to an alarming upward trend in the number of new mothers leaving hospitals with their newborn babies, only to live in their cars or on the streets. Co-founders Rabbi Alvin Sugarman and Reverend Joanna Adams brought together a coalition of sixteen faith-based organizations who shared a collective mission to combat homelessness in metro Atlanta. Together, they formed Genesis Shelter, to serve these homeless newborns and their mothers.

Genesis opened its doors in 1994 in a facility provided by The Temple, and provided services there for ten years. In 2004, recognizing the need to expand its capacity, Genesis relocated to the shelter’s current site at 173 Boulevard, a 76-bed facility with the daily capacity to serve 18 infants and their families. In 20 years of operations, Genesis provided life-transforming services to more than 3,000 people.

Accomplishments

 

Our House opens new Preschool

Our House opens two new preschool classrooms at the Atlanta site – an additional infant classroom, a nd a new... Learn more

Our House merges with Genesis Shelter

Our House merges with Genesis Shelter, which adds an emergency shelter to Our House’s core programs, and also allows for... Learn more

Our House recognized with the Georgia Alliance to End Homelessness Bridge Builder Award

Our House recognized with the “Georgia Alliance to End Homelessness Bridge Builder Award,” given to organizations that serve as outstanding... Learn more

Our House is awarded the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award

Our House is awarded the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award. The Neighborhood Builders program provides grants and leadership development... Learn more

Our House receives a Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award

Our House receives a Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. The... Learn more

Our House Board Chair Gayle Gellerstedt wins the 11 Alive Community Service Award

Our House Board Chair Gayle Gellerstedt wins the 11 Alive Community Service Award local volunteers for her demonstration of selfless... Learn more

More Accomplishments

Key Partners

 

Our Leadership

 

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Tyese Lawyer

President & CEO

Tyese Lawyer holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and has worked with vulnerable and at risk populations for more than two decades, with over 20 years of experience in managing non-profit programs for homeless and low income families. She has also served as a NAEYC Validator and presently serves as Chair on the DeKalb County Continuum of Care Board of Directors. Ms. Lawyer has been Our House’s chief executive since 2004.

Courtney Collins

VP of Operations

Courtney Collins holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and brings more than a decade of nonprofit experience in fundraising, volunteer management, event management, and program development. In her previous role as Director of Operations of the Atlanta Police Foundation, Courtney was responsible for the organization’s financial activities, technology management, human resources and Board management.

Laura Cline

Director of Early Childhood Education

Laura Cline holds a Master's Degree in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University. She has more than 7 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education, preceded by two years in the Peace Corps and several years working in non-profit organizations with diverse populations. Laura began her work at Our House in September 2012; she and her team of site directors are responsible for managing the operations at both Our House early learning sites, and working closely with the family services team to ensure effective delivery of services.

Maxine Chatman

Housing Services Director

Maxine Chatman holds a BS in Social Work from Southern University A&M College and is currently in progress to achieve a Master’s in Social Work. She has more than eight years of experience working in the field of social services, extensive program management experience, and extensive case management experience, including two years of case management as a Family Advocate for Our House shelter residents.

Sean Monroe

VP of Programs

Sean Monroe, joined the Our House team in 2017, relocating from his former position in Richmond, Virginia. He holds a Master's in Public Administration, and has over 10 years of experience in human services/homeless services with a demonstrated record of excellence in case management, program development, and advocacy. Sean’s passion for working with individuals in crisis led to his being named to the Top 40 Professionals under 40 list in Richmond and completing the Emerging Non-profit Leadership Program.

Diane Douglass

VP of Development

Diane Douglass brings over 20 years of fundraising, sales and marketing experience to Our House and has a demonstrated record of success in the areas of revenue generation and the recruitment and cultivation of productive fundraising boards and staff. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Diane came to Our House from Chicago, where she was the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Black Ensemble Theater.

Antwan Aiken

Family Services Director

Antwan Aiken holds a Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the State of Georgia and State of South Carolina and he currently practices as a family therapist in metro Atlanta. Antwan brings experience implementing and overseeing statewide program evaluation and development, as well as experience working with agencies, such as Fulton County Juvenile Court and South Carolina Department of Social Services

Board Officers

Aaron Danzig, Chair

Arnall Golden & Gregory

Laura Diamond, Vice Chair

AT Kearney

Kim Sexton, Secretary

U.S. Trust, Bank of America

Lisa Brown, Treasurer

Brightworth Capital

Board Members

Larry “Brent” Adams

Private Bank of Buckhead

Brendan M. Branon

Delta Airlines

Forrest Coley

Sodexo, USA

David Evans

MedAssets, Inc. (Retired)

Suzannah Gill

Epic Insurance Brokers & Consultants

 

Janora Hawkins

Fragomen, Del Re, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP

Michael J. Hertz

United Distributors, Inc.

Kasey Libby

KCL Resolutions, LLC

Whitcliff McKnight

Westminster

Ellen H. Persons

U.S Attorney’s Office

 

 

Rodney Pierre, Jr.

Cask LLC

Becky Schreiber

Community Volunteer

David Neil Sharpton

The Home Depot

Jeannine Lewis Simmons

Management Consultant

Tony Smith

Community Volunteer

 

Rich Thomas

WSB TV

Wendy Vocelka

Ernst & Young

Marti Merritt Walsh

The Coca-Cola Company

Bert Weaver

Families First (Retired)

Carolyn Brooks

Board Member Emeritus

 

Advisory Council Leadership

Advisory Council Members

D. Gayle Gellerstedt

Co-Chair

Audrey Morgan

Honorary Co-Chair

Barbara Levy

Co-Chair

Rabbi Alvin Sugarman

Honorary Co-Chair

Alfred B. Adams, Jr.
Reverend Joanna Adams
Carol Cooper
Ann W. Cramer
Jackie Cushman

Libby Gozansky
Gail Marshall
Jovita Moore
Albert Woodard

Career Opportunities

Our House is seeking highly qualified team players who are passionate about our mission to break the chains of homelessness for families experiencing homelessness in metro-Atlanta.

Learn More

Audited Financials