Grassroots Seeks New Executive Director

Holmes Accepts Position with No Kid Hungry

Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, now celebrating its 50th year of service to Howard County, is seeking a replacement for outgoing Executive Director Ayesha Holmes who has accepted a position as State Director for the No Kid Hungry campaign at Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

“Ayesha Holmes has been an effective and progressive leader for Grassroots,” said Board of Directors President Nick Langhauser. “We are sorry to see her leave and are grateful for her willingness to help us with the transition to new leadership.”

Holmes’ last day at Howard County’s 24-hour crisis intervention center and shelter for the homeless is July 17. She will provide consultation to Grassroots until her replacement is hired.

“During her three and half year tenure at Grassroots, Ayesha Holmes has overseen a dramatic increase in the delivery of services provided by the crisis intervention center, and she is leaving the organization prepared to meet the challenges ahead,” according to Langhauser.

Grassroots provides 24-hour crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and support to individuals and families with a mental health, substance use or homelessness crisis. Most recently, Grassroots established the New Beginnings Crisis Stabilization center to provide more effective and timely screening and treatment referral or to serve as a safe alternative for individuals at risk of an overdose. 
In noting the highpoints of her years at Grassroots, Holmes cited the opening of the stabilization center, establishing the Grassroots Day Resource Center for the chronically homeless at The Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center in Jessup, affording more dignity to people who are homeless, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the strains put on Grassroots operations, the nonprofit has been able to rise to the physical, emotional and financial challenge of serving vulnerable populations during the pandemic, Holmes said. “The staff has shown courage and dedication during this difficult time,” she noted. “I am also proud of the outpouring of community support Grassroots is receiving,” Holmes added, citing the generosity of local donors who have provided contributions of meals, supplies and money to offset increased expenses.

Until Holmes’ replacement is hired, Grassroots Operations Manager Anna Katz will be the interim director and Sara Smoley, Director of Clinical and Crisis Services, will provide oversight for all programs. Langhauser will head the search committee for Holmes’ replacement. Other search committee members include Libby Boswell, Rochelle Conway, Kristine Harshaw, Gail Makode, Dottie Paxton, Chitra Raghu, Joe Stellone and Steve Sternheimer. Former Board President Mary Lasky, who headed the search committee that hired Holmes, will serve as an advisor to the committee.

“We encourage prospective applicants to start the process now,” Langhauser said. The job description is available at

Grassroots is located on Freetown Road in Columbia. For information, visit

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Grassroots is the 24/7 single point access for behavioral health, crisis and homeless services for individuals and families.