11 Oct
  • By Safe Haven
  • Cause in

Safe Haven CEO Joyce Lavery Announces Retirement

Lavery Announces Retirement From Safe Haven Effective in Spring 2021
CNM Retained To Conduct National Search

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 7, 2020) – Joyce Lavery, CEO of Safe Haven Family Shelter for nearly a dozen years, has announced her retirement effective in six months.

“It was with mixed emotions that the board of directors of Safe Haven Family Shelter accepted Joyce’s retirement. While we knew it was on the horizon, she will be greatly missed,” said Paula Barnes, board chair. “Her contributions to our organization are remarkable. In her more than 11 years at Safe Haven, we have increased the number of families we served by 300%, increased our budget and income by 500%, and increased our staff from five to 30. While we wish her well in her planned retirement, we will greatly miss her leadership.”

The board has retained Frank Parsons with the Center For Nonprofit Management to conduct a national search for her replacement. While Lavery’s retirement will be effective in March, she has agreed to assist with the transition to the new leader as needed.
Lavery’s shoes will be hard to fill. Among her numerous accomplishments at Safe Haven are:

  • 2010 – Awarded CNM’s The Marvin Runyon Award (Leadership Turnaround Award)
  • 2010 – Launched Safe Haven’s Signature Fundraiser: Dancing for Safe Haven
  • 2011 – Secured two large donations that were the catalysts for shelter expansion
  • 2012 – Broke ground on a new building
  • 2013 – Completed a successful capital $2.7 million campaign in 2013
  • 2014 – Began a collaboration with Family Empowerment Program through United Way (known now as The Family Collective, the start of a partnership to build capacity and expand prevention programs (2018))
  • 2014 – Safe Haven named one of the top charities that changed the world by Charity Navigator
  • 2015 – Awarded Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award
  • 2016 – Named finalist for CNM, CEO of the year
  • 2017 – Launched social enterprise, Staff 360
  • 2018 – Awarded SunTrust’s Lighting the Way Award, Leadership Award
  • 2018 – Awarded Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO

“Under Joyce’s leadership, we have been able to keep thousands of families together and provide proactive programs and comprehensive, evidence-based, trauma-informed services to empower the families we work with to achieve lasting stability,” Barnes said. “We look forward to finding our next leader to lead us in our mission to serve homeless families in our community, as we have for the past 36 years.”

According to Parsons, the search committee is seeking a strategic and visionary leader who has a passion for Safe Haven’s mission to house, support, empower and advocate for families experiencing homelessness in the Middle Tennessee community, and has a proven track record of leadership, successful fundraising and fiscal management, and demonstrated ability to build donor and community relationships.

More information about the job description and application process is available at

About Safe Haven Family Shelter
For 36 years, Safe Haven has served as the premier shelter-to-housing program in Middle Tennessee that accommodates families experiencing homelessness. Safe Haven leads our community’s efforts to house, support, empower and advocate for families, allowing them to stay together. Transformative services focused on housing and employment provide families with the resources to become self-sufficient and successful. For more information, visit www.safehaven.org.


Safe Haven