Southern charm and steely determination describe Katheryn Northington and her dedication to children in North Carolina. Katheryn grew up in Greensboro, graduated from high school, and attended North Carolina State University. After college, she taught high school math in Raleigh before moving to Charlotte and working in investments. While living in Charlotte, Katheryn also attended UNCC and completed her MBA. She is married to Otis, who works for one of the large banks in Winston-Salem. The couple have two children, daughter Slate who is 16 and son James who is 15. The Northingtons have lived in Winston-Salem since 2013.
During her time in Charlotte, Katheryn volunteered with several organizations that served children. Upon moving to Winston-Salem, it was natural that she would be involved in serving children in this community too. “My heart has never left the classroom,” Katheryn said. In 2014, Katheryn joined the Board of Trustees for The Children’s Home, later serving as the Board Chair.
One Hundred Years of Service
Learning about The Children’s Home, Katheryn thought it was amazing this property had served children for more than one hundred years. “It says something about the community of Winston-Salem, and the community of Trustees, volunteers, and donors,” she said. “People in Winston-Salem clearly care about children and wanted to see this place work for kids. It was personally compelling to me to be involved with an organization and community willing to work so hard to care for kids and to make this campus a sacred space.”
In 2016, The Crossnore School and The Children’s Home teamed up to work together to serve more children. Later in the year, both organizations’ Boards voted to go to full merger, which happened on January 1, 2017. At that time, Katheryn began serving as the Vice-Chair of the combined Board and moved into the Chairmanship in February of 2019.
A Strategic Plan
The Board of Trustees is responsible for Crossnore’s vision and mission. Katheryn says she sees the Board’s responsibility as Visionary, Fiduciary, and Advocate. They chart a high-level course for the Executive Team and staff to carry out that vision. They exercise fiduciary responsibility by overseeing the financial aspects of the organization. And they advocate for children through their leadership and opportunities to tell Crossnore’s story.
This high-level course was set out in a three-year strategic plan the Board published is 2017. The strategic plan is important because it is vital for Crossnore’s constituents to understand how we best serve kids. Katheryn stated, “We can’t do this by ourselves. We need people to go on this journey with us, so we had to tell them where we are going to go. We need folks in the community to join our work by learning about kids and the trauma they have experienced. These are people who can pause when they see a misbehavior and think about what might be happening in that child’s life. We also need advocates for children in other spaces such as schools, the legislature, churches, neighborhoods, book clubs, coffee shops, and more. By joining our movement, we can help others find their voice for children.”
Hopes and Dreams
When asked about her hopes and dreams for Crossnore, Katheryn talked about how people collectively understand that kids who have experienced trauma can grow and learn and play and change the trajectory of their lives. It’s hard for them and for those who care for them, but it can be done. “We have the opportunity to offer life and love to every child we serve,” said Katheryn. “Communities throughout western North Carolina believe in children and will help them. In this way we can change the future one child at a time.”
Katheryn also feels strongly about the group of leaders assembled at Crossnore, from the Board to the Executive Team to the staff. “We have a tremendous team of thinkers, doers, and leaders within their own communities. To have all of those folks working for children is truly inspiring, and it is an honor to be around that table.”