The Community Action Organization of WNY’s board of directors has selected Thomas U. Kim as its new president and CEO.
Kim has a 30-year-plus career of extensive organizational, management and fiscal leadership experience across nonprofit, government, military and for-profit sectors. He most recently served as executive/organizational consultant for the Los Angeles Dream Center. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Primo Center in Chicago, an organization that serves the city’s homeless population through shelter assistance, early childhood education and health care. Kim also volunteers as the board chair for the Faith n Hope International Ministry, a not-for-profit entity focused on providing long-term solutions to the orphan crisis in Asia.
In his early career, Kim worked as a youth minister, which inspired him to become a licensed clinical social worker to serve more youth. His clinical director experience with private treatment centers and the Illinois Department of Corrections led Kim to various leadership roles within the state of Illinois. He served as the statewide deputy director for the Department of Juvenile Justice, where he led reform initiatives of incarcerated youth programs. Kim’s experience also includes leading civilian-led police oversight and reform organizations in New York City and Chicago.
Kim’s life experience also stood out to CAO’s board. He grew up in extreme poverty while being raised by a single immigrant mother. His family experienced racial injustice first-hand.
“I owe my success to organizations just like CAO and the religious community that stood by my family throughout our lives,” Kim said. “My life experiences align with CAO’s approach of lifting individuals and families out of poverty through their strategic five-pronged approach, designed to not only meet the urgent needs of the community but to create a sustainable path for families and low-income communities to thrive.”
Following the events of 9/11, Kim volunteered and was commissioned as U.S. Army Reserve officer in 2004. He deployed three times through 2017, including with Illinois National Guard. He is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. His commendations include the Bronze Star Medal (2nd Award), Army Commendation Medal (2nd Award), Combat Medical Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal.
The Honorable Craig D. Hannah, CAO’s board president, said he looks forward to working with Kim.
“The board, with the help of an extensive search process conducted by the executive search firm Catapult Executive Consulting, selected Kim because of his high-level leadership and management experience with many nonprofit organizations across the nation,” Hannah said. “His passion for driving change in low-income communities stems from a first-hand understanding of the issues they face.”
Retiring President and CEO L. Nathan Hare said he is impressed by Kim’s record of leadership.
“Mr. Kim is an inspiring leader who can carry our mission forward with a new vision, ideas and enthusiasm,” Hare said. “He shares CAO’s value of a diverse workforce and will work well with our senior management. We welcome Mr. Kim with open arms to Buffalo and look forward to sharing what CAO has accomplished over the years. We should all feel confident in rising up to the challenges of today and take bold steps to create a bright future for the communities we serve.”
View Kim’s personal message and resume here.
The Community Action Organization of WNY was incorporated in 1965 and operates antipoverty programs in Erie and Niagara counties. Annually, CAO serves more than 50,000 families and individuals in Western New York through various programs and services. Visit caowny.org for more information.