To truly change lives we have to improve systems: A Conversation with Carol Hardison

Note: This blog post is a companion piece to Care Ring’s “Seeking the Heart” podcast series in which we talk with leaders from across the region about their ideas and insights on how we can create a better health care system for ALL. To listen to “Seeking the Heart,” simply click here, or search for “Seeking the Heart” on your favorite podcast platform.

Carol Hardison serves as CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry, an essential advocate and provider dedicated to leading people in Charlotte to self-sufficiency.

Launched by leaders from Covenant Presbyterian Church and others in Charlotte’s faith community in the 1970s, Crisis Assistance Ministry is the lead agency in our region coordinating services for people facing homelessness. Through long-time support from the United Way of Central Carolinas, Mecklenburg County and many other leading institutions, Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance and advocacy for neighbors in financial crisis.

But when you listen to Carol Hardison, you quickly realize that she is not about building a fiefdom or simply expanding Crisis Assistance Ministry’s staff or building space. In fact, it was her goal when she took over the agency two decades ago after a long career in the private sector with Duke Energy to work herself out of a job. She wanted to reach a point where she and her agency were serving fewer people, because our system of care would become so effective at lifting up everyone that they were no longer needed.

Alas, the barriers facing people in financial crisis have not broken down over the last twenty years. In fact, in Charlotte we know through the pioneering work of Leading on Opportunity that a lack of social capital and pervasive racial segregation in nearly every facet of our lives – from housing to education, health care and more – causes us to need organizations like Crisis Assistance Ministry now more than ever.

Carol is optimistic that through inspired partnerships, like the ONE Charlotte Health Initiative and proven home visiting programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, conditions can improve in Charlotte. But because we operate agencies like Crisis Assistance Ministry in the midst of failed systems, we have a long way to go to make this region a place where every member has a chance to thrive.

Carol has a lifelong passion to help people in poverty. She has dedicated the last two decades of her professional life to leading Crisis Assistance Ministry, along the way inspiring people across our region to focus on justice and generosity for all of our residents. LISTEN TO THE EPISODE.

Author: Donald K. Jonas, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Care Ring

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