Kathy Bragg is retiring as CEO of the Community Shelter of Union County, opening the door for Chief Operating Officer Melissa McKeown to take over in December.
During Bragg’s nearly 10 years as CEO, the shelter added resources and programming, such as rapid rehousing, to help people experiencing hunger and homelessness.
The nonprofit grew from five employees to 40 full-time and temporary employees. Its operating budget has also increased from $300,000 to $3.2 million, which includes $1.7 million in short-term, restricted COVID-related grants.
Bragg led a $4.7 million capital campaign that resulted in a two-building facility that opened in 2019. The facility tripled the size of the previous building, expanding beds from 29 to 90 and dining hall capacity from 40 to 120. The expansion also allowed for a family wing to accommodate parents and children.
Prior to leading the shelter, Bragg served as executive director of the Union County chapter of the American Red Cross.
She has served on various boards, including the NC Coalition to End Homelessness, Union County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Carolina’s Regional Executive Council and Union Symphony.
The chamber recognized Bragg in 2012 as Businesswoman of the Year.
“My career has truly been a labor of love,” Bragg said of her 30 years in public service. “It has allowed me to build capacity in several nonprofits that serve Union County citizens. I am both grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to combine my business skill sets with a purpose to help others throughout my career.”
She looks forward to retirement with husband Chris Bragg and spending more time with their children and grandchildren.
McKeown joined the shelter as part-time bookkeeper in 2010 and worked through several roles before becoming chief operations officer in 2017. That experience makes her the perfect choice for CEO, according to board chair Penny Hefner.
“Melissa has helped us transition from a long-term transitional shelter into a broad emergency services program that encourages rapid rehousing into independent living,” Hefner said. “She understands our mission, not only intellectually but also with her heart.”