Kimberly Watson

Kimberly (Kym) Hardy Watson, has been the President and CEO of Graham Windham since October 2021.  Kym is also the School Board President of the public school district that is affiliated with Graham Windham, the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District. Kym previously served in other roles at Graham, including the Chief Operating Officer for five years, the Vice President for Foster Care, Adoption, and Prevention services for three years, and the Associate Vice President for Foster Home Life for three years.  Founded in 1806, Graham Windham is the oldest non-sectarian child and family focused organization in the United States. Kym is the first Black woman to lead the organization and one of only a few Black women at the helm of human services organizations in New York. Kym also serves as the Board Chair for the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), a state-wide membership group that represents the interests of over 100 organizations.

Kym joined the Graham Windham team in 2010 having worked at various organizations from direct practice to the executive leadership in foster care, preventive, adolescent residential care, and juvenile justice programs for over three decades. In addition to her work at Graham, Kym’s career in child and family services includes her work as the Director of Group Living of the community residential program at SCO Family of Services and a decade later as the Program Director of the Adolescent Residences with Sheltering Arms (formerly Episcopal Social Services).

A true daughter of Brooklyn, New York, Kym was brought up in Brownsville-East New York. Her parents found a way for her to attend East Flatbush elementary and middle schools out of their commitment to her education.  In middle school, she earned a scholarship to attend a public high school in Edina Minnesota through the “A Better Chance” program.  Upon graduating from Edina-East Secondary School, Kym returned to New York to attend Fordham University, where Kym obtained a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Spanish Language and Culture.  Kym aspired to be a bilingual broadcast journalist. However, a summer job with St. Christopher’s Home (now, SCO Family of Services) changed the trajectory of her life, launching her into a life-long career in child and family services. “I absolutely fell in love with my kids and families and when the time came for me to leave for graduate school, I delayed the entry because I thought it was unfair of me to leave after I had gained their trust. It has been 37 summers since that time and I am still in love!”

Kym’s connection to Graham’s work and the injustice facing the children and families impacted by systems comes from a personal perspective. At eight years old, Kym and her 3 siblings entered the foster care system. The family, affected by alcoholism and family violence, was further impacted by the events of the day (men in the family and community were drafted to fight in Vietnam; labor strikes in the construction industry to promote fair wages and racial equity led to unemployment). Fortunately, their stay in care was brief but the memories and lessons learned from that time are long lived. While Kym’s experience was favorable, other siblings who had been in a separate foster home did not have the same experience. “I have always held both realities in my head when working with families. It is a very difficult thing for families to open themselves to help. When they do, the help they receive should address their needs and concerns in a compassionate, non-judgmental, and humane way.”

As an ordained minister and pastor of a developing Christian fellowship, Kym has over twenty years of volunteerism experience in the community, working primarily with people in recovery, incarcerated, and re-entering the community. In collaboration with Deputy Warden Sandra Langston, Kym created and implemented Project Reconciliation for mothers and daughters incarcerated together at Rikers Island (Rose M. Singer Center).  Later, components of that model were used in work that Kym and her team did working with women incarcerated at correctional centers in Vermont.

Kym holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College, CUNY, and an undergraduate degree from Fordham University. She participated in the inaugural class of the Strell Executive Leadership Fellows program at the Silberman School of Social Work (Hunter College).  Kym has been named to the City and State New York Responsible 100 (2022) and Nonprofit Power 100 2021, 2022, and 2023 lists, and was named to the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York Notable Women in Human Services Hall of Fame (2019). In 2018, Kym received citations from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NY State Assembly members Erik Martin-Dilan and Latrice Walker, and New York City Councilmember Robert Cornegy for the work she has led in the community. In 2017, Kym was interviewed and appears in the Netflix production of Time: The Kalief Browder Story, describing the injustices facing families affected by the crack epidemic and the child welfare system during the 1980s.

Kym is a member of the Black Agency Executives and United for Brownsville, Chair of the Council of Family & Child Caring Agencies’ Steering Committee, and Trustee of Women Helping Women for a Sustainable Tomorrow.

She and her husband Gary have proudly parented six children and are the doting grandparents of six grandchildren.