Debbie Curtis comes to NEW’s board with an impressive resume. Currently the deputy director of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority, Curtis has 23 years of experience working on Capitol Hill, where she was one of the leading experts on health insurance, Medicare, and mental health parity. All of which means she knows exactly what due diligence to perform and where to look under any organization’s hood for budgets, numbers, and efficiency. A long time supporter, she strongly believes in the mission of NEW. Also, as she puts it, “There’s very little overhead at NEW. It’s very hands on, and what you see is what you get.”
Curtis’ first exposure to NEW came through our former staff member, Mary Popit, at Rep. Pete Stark’s office. “Mary would bring in all this great bread after donations were distributed at NEW. It was hard to miss,” she laughs. But then, when she found out more about where the bread was going, and who was benefiting at NEW, she was sold. The testimonials and stories from NEW alumna stayed with her, and underlined what she was a part of, first as a supporter and then as a board member.
“NEW is a refuge,” Curtis says. She echoes something many supporters notice about NEW, and that many alumna credit to their success from transitional to permanent housing: “NEW holds people accountable. It teaches life skills, and supports those who are willing to change and invest in themselves for a better future.” And as a 30-year resident of DC who has seen the city grow and change, she says NEW continues to be crucial in its mission at a time when the need deepens and the housing crisis worsens.
Curtis—who is hard to impress, having seen many social services organizations in her day—also mentions that NEW is “always vibrant and happy,” something that clients, especially newcomers, need more of. More important, as an administrator, she notices “that in addition to being welcoming, every inch of the building is well used.”
Curtis joined NEW’s board in March 2016, and we look forward to her depth of experience, support, and enthusiasm.