New director selected for local nonprofit Family Promise

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Family Promise of Greater Johnson City, the United Way supported network of area churches that helps homeless families with children regain their independence, has chosen Agnes B. Samples to serve as its new executive director.

Samples will begin work at the helm of the nonprofit organization formerly known as Interfaith Hospitality Network on Nov. 18.

The network’s current executive director Brian Rosecrance will retire in December and will spend his final six weeks with Family Promise staff helping Samples with the transition.

Rosecrance said the Family Promise board of directors voted unanimously in September to hire Samples as his replacement. From a file of 48 applicants from across the country who sought the position, he said the board viewed Samples as “the top card” based on a number of qualifications.

“It’s a combination of things,” Rosecrance said. “She’s very intelligent. ... She has front line experience as a nonprofit executive director. She’s very articulate. She’s very community minded. And she is all about strategic planning which is what I think most impressed all of us on the (search) committee. She’s got organizer’s sense. She knows how to network. And because she comes from here, she is very connected with this community.”

A native of Johnson City, Samples most recently spent more than two years as executive director of the St. Vincent De Paul ministry for the homeless and poor in Billings, Mont., and was previously employed for nearly 20 years as an associate professor of public health at East Tennessee State University and at Montana State University in Billings. Prior to leaving Johnson City for Billings in 2004, she received her doctorate of education, masters’ in public health administration and bachelor’s in school health education from ETSU.

In addition to her work and educational background, Rosecrance noted Samples also worked as a volunteer with the Family Promise program in Billings for more than six years. He said he personally considers her someone “who will be able to come in and take Family Promise to the next level.”

Samples said she is glad to be back and in Johnson City and is looking forward to working with Rosecrance, the Family Promise board and staff, the 35 local church congregations and more than 1,000 volunteers aligned through the network and the families they serve.

“Family Promise is what it is because of Brian Rosecrance, the volunteers and the congregations that serve the families,” she said. “The diversity of the board and the unique experience and qualities of each of the members really makes its strong board.

“We’re looking forward to doubling that (congregations) number as they work through their strategic planning. We will be reaching out to other congregations which will be vitally important as we seek to increase the number of families we serve,” Samples said.

Addressing the recent re-branding of the local network as Family Promise, Rosecrance said, “We’ve been operating as an affiliate of Family Promise for 13 years. They changed their name some years ago and it’s something they’ve encouraged us to do for some years.

“Interfaith Hospitality Network, that is the churches and the families who stay in them, will do what they have always done. But we also have many other programs ... that will all be under the Family Promise umbrella with Interfaith Hospitality Network,” he said

In addition to the network of host and support churches that partner to temporarily house homeless parents with children as they work, attend school and address the issues that contribute to homelessness, Family Promise also provides a transitional subsidized housing program, life skills and household budget training, family mentoring, volunteer training and other services.

While he will continue working with the national Family Promise organization to help establish new affiliates across the country after his retirement, Rosecrance said he also plans to go fishing, enjoy his grandchildren and slow down.

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