Wright taking helm at A Friend’s House

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Gary Wright will become the next executive director of A Friend’s House at the end of this month. He succeeds Jill Holder, who is retiring from the same role after eight years.

Gary Wright. Special photo

A home for children in crisis in Henry County since the late 1990s, A Friend’s House was exactly the type of place Wright was looking for when he retired after 28 years of service with Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Wright, who started working at A Friend’s House in mid-May to begin the transition. Holder will stay on as a consultant through August.

Wright has no shortage of experience in this field, having been a family counselor, director of ministries, and most recently program director for the Palmetto campus of Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes.

“He is known as a levelheaded leader with an expert knowledge of regulations and compliance plus exceptional skills with children of all ages,” according to a statement from the board of A Friend’s House announcing his hiring.

With Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes moving more in to specialized care of children with a myriad of physical and psychological needs, Wright wanted an opportunity to make the transition back to what he called “basic care,” which is exactly what A Friend’s House provides.

“We are serving the population we serve best,” he said of his new employer.

Wright has a master’s in child and youth care administration from Nova Southeastern University, a bachelor’s in social work from Georgia State University and an associate of arts in psychology from Dekalb Community College. He is also an active volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“I am so impressed with how well the community in Henry County supports A Friend’s House,” Wright said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a facility that already has such a strong infrastructure. The staff has the tools they need to give residents the support to be successful. When they leave, the children are all very grateful for the staff and programs at A Friend’s House. I look forward to serving even more residents in the future and I know that we will continue to be a model for community partnership moving forward.”

Jeff Wilder, chairman of the executive board of directors, said the board is excited to bring Wright’s experience and enthusiasm to A Friend’s House.

“Our board went through an extensive selection process to bring in the right person to lead the staff and manage the day-to-day operations of this vital community organization,” Wilder said. “We have had a seamless transition from Jill to Gary to maintain our high quality of services. We wish Jill the very best in her future endeavors, and we are all looking forward to a bright future for A Friend’s House under Gary’s leadership.”

Wright sees no need for any major changes in direction; his goal is to keep things going just as they have been for the past several years.

“This is a fine-tuned machine,” he said of the staff at A Friend’s House. “I just want to continue what’s here.”