COTS executive director Rita Markley, right, with Ron Redmond
Rita Markley, a longtime leader in the effort to end homelessness in Vermont, will retire from the Committee on Temporary Shelter this fall after three decades of service.
The Burlington nonprofit announced Markley's retirement in a press release Monday that praised her as a lifelong advocate against inequality.
“When I first walked through the doors of COTS 30 years ago as a volunteer, I had no idea that this organization would become the greatest love of my life, besides my family,” Markley said in the release.
Markley has served as COTS' executive director since 1996. She's credited with helping shape the nonprofit into a national leader in homelessness advocacy and programming.
Among her achievements is the restoration of the COTS headquarters on 95 North Avenue in Burlingtonfrom a run-down building into an activity hub that now hosts a housing resource center and the Daystation, where people can connect with various social services.
She also spearheaded several statewide initiatives, including the Coalition to End Homelessness, and has overseen the completion of more than 50 affordable housing units. Another 16 apartments for families are expected to come online next year.
“Rita is an intrepid leader who has inspired thousands of others to take action to end homelessness,” said Tom Stretton, who chairs the nonprofit's board of directors, in the announcement. “It is no exaggeration to say that through her work, both directly and indirectly, Rita has touched millions of lives over the past three decades."
Stretton and the rest of the nonprofit's board will lead the search for Markley's replacement. The outgoing leader expressed gratitude for her colleagues and said she believes the organization has "never been stronger."
"I am thrilled to see what the next generation of leadership will achieve," Markley said.