Cindy Miles has dedicated her life to helping non-profit organizations fulfill their missions in education, philanthropy, community building and more.
That long list now includes the Urban League of Kansas, which she just joined as an interim Executive Director to help re-launch its trademark programs in family resources, housing, workforce education, and health and wellness.
“This is just a really valuable organization that has helped a lot of people in the past and will again in the future,” she said in an interview with The Community Voice. “It was hit by a couple of hard years and then the COVID pandemic that just shut everything down. So, now, we need to push the restart button.”
Miles said that starts with getting out the word that the Urban League is here for the community as a whole.
“We have a grant from DCF (the state Department of Children and Families) to get the Family Resource Center and we’re hiring a family resource specialist to help identify the greatest community needs,” she said. “We are launching the family resource center and tying it into our seven priority areas that affect families: safe, stable housing; career and workforce development; education, health and wellness, leadership, youth empowerment and financial literacy.”
The Urban League launched its first “return” event in January with a diversity career fair that will be an annual event. Miles said she is looking for partnerships with other nonprofits to launch health and wellness events like the “Facts Not Fear” mental health awareness event launched at the Urban League offices last fall.
“I’m a believer in working through partnerships when possible,” Miles said. “I think it works well to bring organizations with a similar focus together.”
She expects to launch a workshop in March to offer education on tenant rights and prepare to buy a home that will include financial literacy and credit repair.
“Increasing home ownership is really important,” Miles said. “The 67214 Zip Code is one of the poorest in the state. We will look at workshops that we can put on that will help address that poverty.”
That will include a four-week project aimed at youth empowerment, she said.
“We have some really great non-profit resources in Wichita to help us with that education effort,” she said. “To truly make a difference, you have to start with the young people.”
Working from experience
Helping to reduce the incidence of domestic violence is another priority for Miles.
“A lot of the work I do in that area is tied to my own childhood. I grew up in an abusive environment and entered into my own abusive domestic relationship. I’ve seen drug abuse and experienced child abuse and I know first-hand how hard that can be to overcome,” she said.
But overcome it, she did.
She holds an Associate’s degree in Communications from Butler County Community College, Bachelors and Masters degrees from Wichita State in Integrated Marketing Communications and an MBA in International Business from Newman University.
She has started and worked with a variety of non-profit organizations, and is still involved with many of them. She serves as CEO of the Kansas Non-Profit Chamber of Commerce as a full-time job.
Confident of success
The Urban League of Kansas is an organization that is well-equipped for success at reclaiming its position as a leading resource for the community, Miles said, and she intends to help it achieve success.
“I’m passionate about taking on a position and running an organization.” she said. “I can see what the Urban League has been and what it can be. It has the advantage of having once been the go-to organization. It has a good, strong board and I don’t see any problems with funding the future.”
A year from now, Miles said she expects to see a new family resource center in full swing and to be helping the organization find and hire a permanent Chief Executive Officer.