Kathi Schmidt—who has served as the executive director of nonprofit Reach Unlimited since 1992—announced she will retire from the position Feb. 29, 2016.
Founded in 1983, Reach provides support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the greater northwest Houston area, including home- and community-based services, access to group homes and access to educational and job opportunities.
Reach serves more than 300 clients with another 200 currently on its waiting list, Schmidt said. Since she took over as executive director, the nonprofit has expanded its number of group homes from eight to 22.
“We’ve almost tripled in size, in both group homes and in budget,” she said. “As demand for our services grew, we’ve always looked for ways to make our programs better while also reaching out to more people in need.”
Schmidt said one accomplishment she is particularly proud of was the funding and construction of Phase 1 of a new Learning Activity Center in 2005. The center houses programs for life-long learning, vocational development, recreation and fitness.
“The Learning Activity Center was a vision I had as a former school teacher,” she said. “I felt our clients deserved the right to continue to learn and grow.”
The groundbreaking on the 49,000-square-foot Phase 2 of the LAC—which will include a teaching greenhouse, paved pavilion and baseball field—is expected to take place in January or February. Schmidt said her goal is to complete the capital campaign and have the building completely funded before she retires.
In her retirement announcement, Schmidt encouraged members of the Reach community to continue to invest in the organization’s future. Her hope, she said, is for 32 more families to join the Friends of Reach Society, a five-year commitment that involves pledging financial support.
Schmidt said she landed on the number 32 to match the number of years she has been with the nonprofit.
“We realized that about less than a third of our families were a part of our giving society,” she said. “I feel like these families want us to be around for years to come, and this is a way to encourage them to participate in the future of Reach and the future of their child.”
Selecting the next executive director falls in the hands of the Reach board of directors. The board has formed a search committee and is in the early stages of examining options.
Looking back on her 32 years of service, Schmidt said she is thankful for the trust families have placed in the organization.
“We have families who have been here since the 1980s,” she said. “Families have trusted us to have their children live with us and trust us to care for them. It means so much to me to have earned the trust of so many over the years.”