23 to watch in 2023: Jennielynn Holmes, CEO of Catholic Charities

With Caritas Village rising on the edge of Santa Rosa and homelessness a top priority for city and county officials, eyes turn to Catholic Charities CEO Jennielynn Holmes.|

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

Name: Jennielynn Holmes

Title or position: Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

On the job since: Holmes has been at Catholic Charities for fourteen years, beginning as a part-time employee and advancing to become Chief Program Officer. In September, she took the helm of the charity, which operates in Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties along with limited outreach programs in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Age: 36

Hometown: Santa Rosa

Why Holmes is someone to watch:

Homelessness may be the most pressing challenge for Sonoma County. The suffering and harm faced by those forced to live on the streets is immense, as a recent string of frigid nights underscores, while the impacts of encampments and people living out of vehicles drive political and neighborhood tensions.

To blunt the crisis, city and county officials are looking to Catholic Charities. In September, as Holmes took over leadership, the charity opened the doors at Caritas Center, a shining new service hub with 200 shelter beds, a health clinic and a drop-in center where homeless people can shower and launder clothes.

Construction on the larger $120-million complex, called Caritas Village, continues as 128 low-income apartments are built by nonprofit Burbank Housing.

While Catholic Charities is the area’s dominant homeless services provider, some critics question the amount of resources directed to the charity over other providers, particularly as the numbers of chronically homeless rise.

Holmes often served as Catholic Charities’ public face in recent years even before her promotion to CEO. While young, she has built working relationships with agency heads, elected officials and other nonprofit leaders in the region.

What others are saying about Holmes:

“They (Catholic Charities) are a critical partner,” outgoing Mayor Chris Rogers said. “If Santa Rosa is going to be successful in our efforts, we need Jennielynn and Catholic Charities to be successful.

What Holmes says about 2023:

“I’m always hopeful, but it’s hard.Caritas Center gives me a lot of hope,” Holmes said. “The community came forward. They’re the ones that built that building.”

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

For more people to watch in 2023, go here.

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