City Visionary: Kim Moss

Memphis is a place full of seemingly tireless people creatively working to push the city forwardgrit and grind doesn't just characterize our basketball. In this series, we introduce you to some of the city's visionary leaders who are facing challenges and innovating for solutions.
Kim Moss has come home again, in two ways. He recently returned to Memphis from New Orleans, and he has returned to the helm of the Hospitality Hub, a nonprofit that provides resources for people to transition out of homelessness that he helped launch. In 2006, during his first tenure at the organization, he was hired on a part-time basis to help establish the agency. 

At the time, the Downtown Churches Association had tried to pool their services to assist the homeless, but their efforts were not fully meeting the need. Moss worked to get the Hospitality Hub started, then went back to his full-time work at Friends for Life to help persons affected by HIV/AIDS. But with a unique background of serving as a minister and a counselor, coupled with extensive nonprofit experience, Moss eventually concluded his real calling was to work with the disenfranchised populations of the mentally ill and the homeless.

After three years in New Orleans serving as Executive Director for Project Lazarus, a Memphis friend reached out to offer the CEO position at the Hospitality Hub. With his first grandchild, newly born, in Memphis, it didn’t take long for Moss to make the decision to move home.
                                
How is the Hospitality Hub helping to fulfill your vision for Memphis? The Hospitality Hub is the single point of entry for individuals to connect with services for the homeless in the Memphis area. Individuals are seen by volunteer counselors, often from churches in the downtown area, who conduct a needs assessment in order to make referrals to the proper agencies for physical healthcare, mental healthcare, housing and a jobs program. We provide services to about 150 homeless people each month. We assist with helping them get their ids and birth certificates, provide lockers to store their belongings while they are working, offer them a mailing address, and conduct a jobs program (interviewing skills, resumes, a network of employers, etc.). Additionally, different agencies come to our site to provide their services legal aid, mental health screening and treatment, vocational rehabilitation, just to name a few. My vision is that the majority of these individuals can be given the assistance that they need to be able to function successfully in mainstream society.
       
What are your first points of business as the new CEO? My responsibilities are focused on the day-to-day operations of the organization. My goals for the first 12 months are to further develop a board of directors, establish programs, and provide oversight for marketing and public relations, as well as fundraising.
 
Whose leadership has had the greatest impact on you? Jeanne Richardson, Director of the Midtown Mental Health Center, served as my mentor. One of the things that I most admire about her is how she allowed her subordinates to dream, and then pushed them to achieve their goals. I felt my calling was to work with the homeless population and help them to become as normalized as possible into society. This was in the 1980s, and our facility was the first center to work with individuals affected by HIV/AIDS and the homeless. She challenged me, allowing me opportunities for growth, and pushed me to succeed.

Who do you admire doing work in the city (individual/organization)? Two people come to mind, Kim Daugherty, Executive Director at Friends For Life, and David Williams, Executive Director at Leadership Memphis. I admire Kim for the work she has done to ensure that services continue and that the agencys operations remain relevant. And I admire David for the leadership that he has provided as his organization looks inward and listens to what their graduates have said about how they want to be of service in the community.
 
What do you think is the biggest opportunity for Memphis in the next five years? I think building on the momentum of the neighborhood revitalization we are currently experiencing is the biggest opportunity that Memphis has in the next five years. Just in the last 18 months we have seen the revitalization of Overton Square, the Union Avenue corridor, Broad Avenue, and the [Sears] Crosstown project. Even the renovation of The Pyramid is at hand. These are all hugely positive things for several very distinct parts of our community. It is exciting, and more young people are getting involved. People are encouraged and want to be a part of projects that are invigorating and being directed with strong leadership.
 
What change would you most like to see? I want to see us develop a stronger outreach to the severely and persistently mentally ill people in our community—the people who live in alleys and under bridges and in abandoned houses. These are the ones who do not come to any of the available agencies for help. Our system works really well for those who can present themselves, but it’s the people who can’t that need our help the most.
 
What excites you about your work? I’m always excited by a challenge and this job presents me with an agency that has been doing great things for quite a number of years. But Id like to build on that in order to be able to track people as they move around, especially as we are moving them from the streets into housing. Building on the information available through systems like the Community Alliance for the Homeless network will allow us to see more of the whole picture, not just the limited snapshot of time in which we participate.
 
Whats on the calendar for Hospitality Hub?
Hospitality Hub will host its annual fundraiser, That's the Spirit, a wine-tasting with live music at Jack Robinson Gallery on April 16. Loveland Duren will provide the music and Kimbrough Liquors will provide the beverages.  

Whats one of your favorite things to do in Memphis? Babysitting my grandson is my favorite pastime, but I also enjoy taking advantage of the local community theater scene.
 
What is one thing most people dont know about you? I started playing piano when I was five years old and stayed with it, earning my Associates Degree in classical piano.
 

Read more articles by Emily Adams Keplinger.

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