Gwinnett Coalition Announces Gerstein’s Retirement, Search for New Executive Director

The Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services announced today that Executive Director Ellen Gerstein will be retiring at the end of 2020. In light of Gerstein’s retirement, the board of the Gwinnett Coalition is launching a search for the next executive director.

“I am honored to have served as the founding executive director for the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services,” said Ellen Gerstein. “For 29 years I have had the privilege to partner with so many exemplary community leaders, agencies and professionals. I have participated in and witnessed positive community-level change and growth in my tenure over the past three decades.”

Gerstein joined the Gwinnett Coalition in 1991. Under her guidance, the Gwinnett Coalition has:

  • Completed and implemented the first health and human services needs assessment – including a detailed action plan to address needs
  • Started the Gwinnett Helpline, which has provided over 750,000 referrals to address life’s basic needs during the past 29 years
  • Overseen the largest volunteer event in the country, Gwinnett Great Days of Service, with a combined economic impact of over $40 million dollars for the past 20 years.
  • Started an affordable housing nonprofit – the Gwinnett Housing Resource Partnership
  • Helped start five of Gwinnet’s six cooperative ministries
  • Recommended and helped design the three Gwinnett County health and human service cluster centers in Norcross, Buford and Centerville.
  • Developed the first comprehensive youth health survey and implemented subsequent surveys to address high-risk behaviors of our youth
  • Raised over $2 million dollars to address youth substance abuse prevention
  • Created 1st Veterans Resource Center in Gwinnett

“We are grateful for Ellen’s leadership and dedication to Gwinnett over the years,” said Chuck Warbington, Gwinnett Coalition board chair and Lawrenceville City Manager. “We know she will continue to be a force for good as she enters this next stage. We appreciate her commitment to the Gwinnett Coalition in ensuring the new executive director has a seamless transition.

“As a board, we are excited about the future of the Gwinnett Coalition and look forward to finding a new executive director who is passionate about building upon Ellen’s efforts and accelerating the Gwinnett Coalition’s efforts.”

For Gerstein, looking back on a career dedicated to helping people leaves her feeling grateful to have had the opportunity to live a life of purpose in Gwinnett.

“I am so proud that the Gwinnett Coalition continues to be a shining star among the thousands of Health and Human Service Coalitions in the country,” she said. “I want to thank each person I have worked with and who has supported me and the Gwinnett Coalition along this tremendous journey. I also want to encourage each of you to keep up the fight. As long as there are desperate needs in our community, our work is not done.”

As she transitions into a new phase of life, Gerstein is looking forward to continuing teaching a leadership course at  Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia, consulting for nonprofits, spending time with her twin grandsons, traveling and writing.

Before helping found the Gwinnett Coalition, Gerstein ran an Arizona-based rehabilitation program for violent offenders. Her experience also includes counseling substance abusers and runaway and emotionally disturbed teens. A native of Atlanta, Gerstein graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and a master’s in business management/human relations and organizational behavior from the University of Phoenix.

Dedicated to her community, Gerstein is serving, or has served, on more than 10 local advisory boards of various health and human service agencies. She is a graduate of Leadership Gwinnett

Class of 1995 and is also a member of the Gwinnett Rotary Club. Gerstein was also appointed by President Obama to the SAMHSA National Advisory Council. She has won the 1999/2004 State Family Connection – Outstanding Achievement Awards, the 2011 United Way Women’s Legacy Award, the 2012 Gwinnett chamber nonprofit Pinnacle Award, the 2014 MLK Diversity Award, the 2015 Gwinnett Chamber Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award and the 2018 Gwinnett Chamber Public Service Award.

During the remainder of 2020, Gerstein will be working with the Gwinnett Coalition’s board to ensure a smooth leadership transition.