Welcome to Our New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Lawrence Community Shelter is pleased to welcome its new Executive Director, Renee Kuhl. A native of Kansas, Renee is a human services professional who returns to us from Chicago, Illinois. After earning her Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University, she has spent the last five years cultivating expertise in grant management, program development, and fundraising for initiatives that support the rights, safety, and self-sufficiency of individuals experiencing homelessness, violence, and poverty.

Renee’s work in Chicago began in housing and homeless services. During her tenure as Grant Manager at Housing Forward in suburban Cook County, Renee worked closely with a small team of directors and leaders to grow both private and public sector funding of the agency’s programs for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Housing Forward’s portfolio included the region’s HUD-funded Continuum of Care, Illinois Department of Human Services, Cook County, multiple local townships and municipal agencies, as well as corporate and foundation partners at the local and national level. After 18 months under Renee’s management, the budget had grown by over $1 million, including a new $500,000 HUD-funded Supportive Housing contract and nearly $150,000 in new foundation giving in gifts ranging from $10,000 to $70,000.

As Associate Director of Strategic Development at Heartland Human Care Services (the human services arm of Heartland Alliance, the Midwest’s leading anti-poverty organization) from 2017 to 2019, Renee oversaw the development strategy for the Pathways to Success initiative. This suite of job-readiness, education, and financial literacy and self-sufficiency programs annually served thousands of low-income workers and job seekers, including individuals experiencing homelessness, returning citizens, public housing residents, refugees, victims of human trafficking, and documented and undocumented immigrants. As Associate Director of Strategic Development, Renee secured over $1 million in new funding from the Department of Justice, Illinois State Board of Education, the City of Chicago, and multiple foundation and corporate partners. Notable services made possible by this development included an expanded transitional housing program for survivors of human trafficking and a pilot program to provide supportive employment services to youth experiencing homelessness.

As Executive Director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, Renee brings a commitment to Housing First principles, trauma-informed care, evidence-based best practices for emergency shelter management, and a passion for community interventions that prevent and end homelessness. In addition to her expertise in fundraising and program development, Renee is also an experienced quality and project management professional, having led or aided program quality assessments, rehabilitation facilities accreditation, and organizational strategic planning.

“I am so excited to return to Kansas to work with Lawrence and Douglas County communities to ensure the Lawrence Community Shelter thrives,” says Renee. “It’s my experience that great social services leaders act as conveners in their communities, developing a bold vision, and creating spaces where all who care about ending poverty and homelessness can come together to make an impact. I am committed to working alongside the shelter’s community partners, donors, the city of Lawrence and Douglas County governments, local faith and philanthropic organizations, and concerned citizens to build sustainable solutions to homelessness in the region.”

Renee is a graduate of Olathe Public Schools. Her parents and many extended family members are alumni of the University of Kansas, and Renee is a Jayhawk fan with a lifelong connection to the Lawrence community. In addition to her dedication to working with individuals experiencing homeless, Renee is a musician, songwriter, and producer. She is passionate about literature, local music, and the arts. If you’re not catching her during your volunteer shift at the Lawrence Community Shelter, you can find her bike riding down Mass Street, visiting the Dusty Bookshelf, or catching a show at the Granada. Renee is excited to get to know any and all community members who want to help end homelessness. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to say hello, learn about the shelter’s future, or arrange for a tour!

Renee can be reached at reneek@lawrenceshelter.org or (785) 856-2023.