Kentwood native and graduate Kathleen M. Allen, an attorney with a long history of working with the disadvantaged and in family law, has been named the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Catholic Charities West Michigan (CCWM).
Allen, who has been serving as vice chair of the nonprofit human service agency’s board of directors, is currently a staff attorney for Legal Aid of Western Michigan in Grand Rapids and will begin her new duties on May 1. Pamela Cohn Hammer, CCWM’s chief operating officer, has been acting as interim president and CEO.
“I know Kathleen very well and know that she will bring the needed expertise and energy to the highly challenging job of leading this agency in the years ahead,” said CCWM Board Chair Juan Salazar.
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, welcomed Allen to the position. “Catholic Charities West Michigan is a vital organization which allows us to live out the call of Christ to care for the poor, clothe the needy, and feed the hungry throughout the 11 counties we serve,” he said. “I welcome Kathleen and look forward to partnering with her, the Catholic Charities Board of Directors, and staff to continue to serve the community in a compassionate way.”
Allen, who has a bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from Valparaiso School of Law in Valparaiso, Ind. said: “My more than 20 years of practicing as a Legal Aid of Western Michigan attorney gave me the opportunity to serve, one on one, many area vulnerable poor and low income persons and families.”
Prior to beginning work at Legal Aid of Western Michigan in 1997, Allen was affiliated with three Grand Rapids law firms as a law clerk and associate. Former President and CEO Terry Walsh left the agency in July 2016.