It is with widespread emotions that I am writing to share my decision to transition from my role as Executive Director of SOUL RYEDERS at the end of this month. I am pleased to announce that Heidi Kitlas, whom many of you know and admire, will become the interim Executive Director. My enthusiasm for SOUL RYEDERS remains as strong, if not stronger, than it has been since starting the organization’s first team for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in 2007. I feel fortunate to have been able to serve as Executive Director in a volunteer capacity and am eager to continue my involvement, albeit in a more traditional volunteer role. While I will be stepping back from my daily responsibilities, I will remain an active and engaged Board member, Giving Circle member, strategic advisor and will support our clients in a myriad of ways, while freeing up time to pursue additional philanthropic and personal interests.
Heidi joined the SOUL RYEDERS Leadership Team in 2016 as our Director of Development and has played a key role in our evolution over the past five years. She has extensive experience in non-profit management, with the knowledge, expertise, compassion and commitment necessary to succeed in her new role. Similar to SOUL RYEDERS’ organic growth, this transition feels like a natural step.
We have an exceptionally dedicated, experienced, and cohesive Leadership Team and Board who will continue to grow the organization and deepen its commitment to supporting those in the New York Tri-State area who are impacted by any type of cancer. Thanks to our judicious fiscal management, SOUL RYEDERS stands on strong financial footing and is well positioned for sustainable growth during the organization’s next chapter. Having pivoted quickly and effectively to virtual programming at the onset of the pandemic, we are working meticulously on integrating our learnings and developing our post-pandemic plans.
Since sharing my decision with the Board in early December, we have been working diligently on a transition plan and are pleased with how smoothly it is proceeding. I am confident the process will continue in this way as our incredible Leadership Team, the driving force behind our daily operations, collaborates like a very high-functioning family! Heidi and I have similar leadership styles and I am committed to being accessible indefinitely.
While my professional background is as a nurse practitioner, I grew into the role of Executive Director with the support of an abundance of mentors and collaborators along the way. I owe a debt of gratitude to every person who has helped shape SOUL RYEDERS into what it is today and want to wholeheartedly thank our community of volunteers, donors and colleagues who have played a pivotal role in the organization’s success. I have been fueled and inspired by our clients and caregivers and feel fortunate to have cultivated meaningful and enduring relationships with so many of them.
My passion is for helping others and easing stress during challenging times. It has been an honor to support those impacted by cancer and I feel privileged that clients and caregivers have welcomed me into their lives during such a vulnerable time. During my next chapter, I am eager to continue to serve others while broadening my impact. In particular, I plan to help those who are struggling amidst our deepening mental health crisis.
My goal over the past several years has been to pass the SOUL RYEDERS torch once I was confident about the long-term sustainability of the organization and its ability to fulfill our vision of ensuring that everyone we serve feels supported during their cancer experience. The hard work, commitment and unwavering dedication of so many makes me feel abundantly confident that Heidi, our Leadership Team, Board and countless volunteers will carry the torch to a whole new level!
With sincere gratitude,
A LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dear SOUL RYEDERS Community,
Since 2007, SOUL RYEDERS – or Sole Ryeders as it was known then – has been the vision of Sandy Samberg. She organized the first teams for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer when the sole focus of the organization was fundraising for a cure. Over the years, we have grown exponentially to become a stand-alone, non-profit entity that supports and connects individuals and families affected by any type of cancer. With each idea and expansion of vision, Sandy engaged a leadership team to implement this unified approach to cancer support services. SOUL RYEDERS is about helping people live and cope with cancer. Sandy has made this goal possible.
It is with mixed emotions that I write to you that Sandy has decided to step down as Executive Director of SOUL RYEDERS, effective April 1, 2021. Fortunately, she will not be going far and will forever remain a part of the SOUL RYEDERS family and community. To say that Sandy has been the inspiration and force behind the work that SOUL RYEDERS has accomplished is an understatement; we all appreciate that she has been the “soul” of SOUL RYEDERS. The mission and culture that she has created is indeed unique and SOUL RYEDERS will continue to thrive under the leadership team that Sandy has assembled, nurtured and inspired. Sandy has been thoughtful each and every step of the way to ensure that SOUL RYEDERS is larger than any one individual – our success is a result of the community and the efforts of the exceptional leadership team.
It is with great excitement that I inform you that Heidi Kitlas will become the interim Executive Director and is a strong candidate for the permanent position. Heidi is prepared to not only continue the mission we have begun, but expand, develop, cultivate and empower new and creative opportunities for our clients and their loved ones impacted by cancer. We have a transition plan in place that will provide continuity of services to our clients, as well as expand and implement new initiatives.
Heidi joined us in 2016 as a Director of Development. Since that time, together with an experienced and dedicated leadership team, Heidi has been involved in all aspects of SOUL RYEDERS, from client programs to events, budgeting, development, administrative and fiscal matters. Heidi is prepared to take on the work this role requires and will certainly continue the collegial and interactive leadership style that has become the hallmark of SOUL RYEDERS.
We look forward to the time when we can safely come together to celebrate Sandy and Heidi and express heartfelt gratitude to all of you for the important contributions you have made to SOUL RYEDERS over the years.
With great thanksgiving for our past and excitement for our future,
SOUL RYEDERS® is a registered 501(c)3 public charity (TAX ID 47-3803900) committed to supporting those affected by all types of cancer. As such, all donations made to SOUL RYEDERS are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.