CARITAS is thrilled to announce Karen O’Brien as its new President and CEO, effective April 17. O’Brien, the current Chief Operating Officer, succeeds Karen Stanley, who served as CEO for 22 years, retiring at the end of 2022.

“Any organization experiencing its first change of CEO in over two decades faces special challenges and opportunities,” said Alison Keller, chair of the CARITAS CEO search committee “We are confident Karen has the vision, experience, and leadership skills to excel. And her qualifications are only bolstered by the tremendous respect she enjoys within CARITAS and across the Richmond community.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Karen led and oversaw the operations for all of CARITAS’ programs and facilities for nearly a decade. She has helped drive the growth and vision of the agency since her arrival in 2009, including supporting the founding of the CARITAS Furniture Bank and turning the CARITAS Center project into a reality.

“As a faith-filled person, I have found my purpose in working in solidarity with the outstanding team at CARITAS — as well as in collaboration with our community partners — to provide space, time, talent, and connections that rebuild and heal,” said O’Brien. “My experience puts me in a unique position to honor our history and shape a new vision for the future.”

CARITAS is the largest homeless and recovery services organization in the metro Richmond area, currently serving 3,300 people each year on a $7.4 million annual operating budget. The organization works with 300 different community partners, from churches to other nonprofits, and employs 50 full-time and 50 part-time employees, with hundreds of volunteers also pitching in. 

“The work we do, and the services we deliver remain vital and urgent,” said O’Brien. “It is my vision that CARITAS remains a thriving community of caring long after I am gone. That means financial sustainability, excellence in programming, and the ability to look across the bow and see what is next.” 

The board of directors launched the nationwide search for Stanley’s successor after she announced her retirement last summer, engaging BoardWalk Consulting, a national search firm specializing in the recruitment of CEOs for nonprofits, to lead the effort. Kelly Chopus, former President and CEO of Robins Foundation, stepped in as Interim President and CEO after Stanley’s departure and will remain throughout April to support Karen’s transition into her new role, as a strategic advisor. 

There was significant interest in the role from people in numerous states, including from local candidates who are familiar with CARITAS,” said Greg Suskind, president of CARITAS’ Board of Directors. “We are very pleased that a comprehensive search resulted in the appointment of such a valued member of our team.”

The board and staff extend their sincere gratitude to Chopus for steadfastly guiding the ship over the past few months and enthusiastically welcome O’Brien into her new role.