BY JODI FUSON for the Neighborhood Extra
Kristy Goodwin calls Lincoln her second home. Although she was raised, educated, and employed in the Chicago area, she visited the capital during the summers when her family was visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She remembers grabbing a Runza, craving Lazlo’s beer-battered onion rings, and making cakes from scratch with her Aunt Bea. Her Air Park aunt, Aunt Emma, had a family connection with the famous Husker football team and Aaron Davis. And Aunt Emma’s husband, John Roseberry, owned Roseberry’s Martial Arts. Goodwin recalls stopping at the dojo to try out some of the moves.
Her return to Lincoln in February was not for a visit, but to begin her new role as executive director of City Impact. Just about a block from the City Impact Center at 1035 N. 33rd St. is the Angelic Temple Church of God in Christ, which Goodwin attended with her minister father when she was in town decades ago.
The 25,000 square foot City Impact Center opened in 2014 and is home to a large multipurpose room, six classrooms, offices and the Scheels Gym and Fitness Center. Previously, City Impact offered programs such as Bible clubs and literacy classes outside of churches in the area and in partnership with Lincoln Public Schools.
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Goodwin is excited about expanding City Impact’s programs and outreach as the third executive director of the faith-based organization focused on mentoring, teaching, empowering and transforming youth. City Impact connects with youth on all levels – spiritual, mental and social, developing them and their communities from the inside out. Its programs engage children in the kindergarten classes and beyond, preparing them to be leaders in their communities.
City Impact’s reading programs help fulfill the classroom portion of the four-pronged outreach program as students participate in one-to-one tuition, targeted literacy activities, and book clubs. Weekly Bible studies for elementary school students and youth are also offered.
The organization’s initial focus was the Malone neighborhood near 20th and U Streets, where City Impact co-founder and first CEO Brad Bryan still resides. The core target area has since expanded to include the Title I school districts of Clinton, Hartley, Elliott, McPhee and Everett.
As a member of City Impact’s board of directors, Bryan was included in Goodwin’s interview process. He said he felt Goodwin’s faith experience and educational background would fit well with CI’s efforts and mission to empower underfunded communities.
Bryan added that he believes he and Goodwin share a common vision for the organization. “We always imagined that God would set up a model,” Bryan said. “We want to be leaders in youth development in the area of faith and leadership development.”
Goodwin also commented that she would like City Impact’s holistic approach to be a beacon for the entire state.
Craig Ames, Chair of the CI Board of Directors, said, “We are confident that her skills, professional experience and vision of the gospel in action will support and enhance our mission to mentor, teach and empower underserved youth in Lincoln. He added, “She obviously has a passion for mentorship and youth development.”
Goodwin’s last two jobs have been in higher education with a focus on high schoolers, first as director of recruitment and public relations at Governors State University, where she developed and implemented a recruitment strategy to win her freshman class. She later served as director of college pathway programs for governors, preparing black youth for post-secondary education.
Goodwin thinks she’s a good fit for City Impact because she understands coding and the heartbeat of youth. She built connections during her time with governors, and those students still call and keep in touch, she said.
“It was the biggest part of my career,” she explained. “I’ve been dealing with students. They were part of my daily actions.”
A month into her new job, Goodwin said she can already see that City Impact has effective programs in place. Going forward, she wants youth to know that City Impact is a community organization that sees and hears them and offers them a place to grow. Ensuring that young people can say what is important to them and then incorporate that into the programming is one of their goals.
Goodwin’s theological training also fits well with City Impact. She received her Masters of Theological Studies from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago after singing professionally in the gospel circle from the ages of 16 to 35. She also earned a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership and a Masters in Management from two other Chicago universities.
As a Certified Trauma Healing Facilitator with the Trauma Healing Institute, Goodwin would like to share some of that training with City Impact staff. The institute’s approach focuses on trauma, grief and addiction, using biblical principles to bring about healing.
“It’s not just about managing emotions,” Goodwin explained. “It’s an intentional processing of what’s happening in their lives.”
Goodwin also has pastoral training, having worked with HIV and AIDS patients through Urban CPE and people transitioning from various addictions at the Bonaventure House in Chicago. She said these experiences taught her to listen actively, to sit back and to know what it means to accompany someone.
Now she is ready to accompany a diverse group of Lincoln youth as they are mentored and strengthened. Goodwin sees City Impact’s role not just in celebrating youth for who they are, but in developing them into what they can be.
Goodwin has personally experienced the benefits of support and development as part of the RISE Together mentoring program through Union Theological Seminary. Her Chicago cohort is made up of women of color in diverse backgrounds who support one another as they explore their callings inside and outside of the church.
In 2021, City Impact reached students with 1,500 hours of mentoring through its CI Mentoring (One-to-One Community Mentoring) and Success Mentoring program offered at three junior and senior Lincoln high schools who identified by LPS as falling through the cracks. The program accompanies them through the first two years after high school.