Who We Are

Working Together to Transform Lives and Our Community

CityLink is a gathering place for individuals who want to make a positive life change. When we surround Cincinnati’s unemployed and working poor with holistic care, we provide a path to lasting growth and hope.

Our History

The journey we took to get launched.

2003 - And so it begins...

The journey began with City Gospel Mission, Crossroads Health Center, Jobs Plus, and The Lord’s Gym coming together to envision a path of integrated services that an individual in need could easily navigate. Area churches, known to be advocates for people in poverty, quickly joined the collaboration.

2004 - Laying the Groundwork

In 2004, we established the foundation for what the CityLink Center would be, including aligning on a
statement of faith, mission, and general vision.

2005 - CityLink goes house hunting

In 2005, we set our hearts on 800 Bank St, the one location that met all our desired criteria: located in the West End, and minutes from downtown, Over-the-Rhine, I-75, and I-71. After the location was found, it was smooth sailing… or, at least we thought it would be.

2006-07- The Struggle is real

The City of Cincinnati Zoning Board initially granted a zoning permit for CityLink in 2006; however, an opposing group filed an appeal and won. At this time, there were renovations in OTR, and people in the West End were concerned that those struggling with addiction, homelessness, and other issues were simply being relocated from Washington Park to this new facility.

2008- Victory!

The legal battle to launch CityLink continued all the way to The Ohio Supreme Court in 2008, which ruled in favor of CityLink.

2009-Research, research, research.

After this win, it was time to get to work! Throughout 2009, extensive research, focus groups, in-depth literature reviews and site visits led to revisions to CityLink’s vision, mission, core values, strategic objectives, programming and capital campaign budget. When a financial feasibility study reported that CityLink would only be able to raise $4MM of the estimated $14MM needed to launch, Crossroads Church increased their involvement, playing a critical role in our launch with their leadership and financial capacity (cue the Hallelujah chorus).

2011- It’s starting to feel real.

In 2011, we began conversations with potential partners in areas of education, employment, financial education and barrier removal services. On August 10th, over 400 guests attended the groundbreaking celebration.

2012- Come on in! We’re Open.

In July of 2012, Cincinnati Works executed CityLink’s first partner contract, followed by SmartMoney and ChangingGears. Around the same time, several churches joined the Spiritual Advisory Council, supporting our mission prayerfully and financially. In October of that year, we had our grand opening, enlisting over 100 clients opening day.

2013- Growing in style.

In our first full year open, we saw 496 individual clients engage in the center. In addition, a new partnership with St Vincent DePaul led to the launch of Clothing Connection, a service for clients to be outfitted with professional attire for interviews or new careers.

Our Values

Our Why Drives Our What

Our community launched and supports CityLink because we believe that every neighbor is created in the image of God with immeasurable worth. We believe that circumstances, systems, and choices can inhibit us from reaching our full potential. We believe in truth, grace, accountability, and empathy. We believe our community will only reach it’s full potential when all neighbors have an opportunity to reach theirs.

Agile

We will constantly explore, evaluate, and adjust to support the changing needs of our community and clients.

Relationships

We will foster an environment where the lives our clients service providers and volunteers will be profoundly changed by knowing others and being known.

Outcomes

We will monitor and report on our results to continually improve our services and break the cycle of poverty.

Spirit-Led

We will seek God’s guidance in all that we do. We will help clients experience God’s love in practical ways through the work of programs, partners, staff and volunteers

Excellence

We will hold ourselves and our partners accountable to the highest level of care, programs and facilities.

Our Team

Marissa Abernathy

Director of Development and Communications

Michelle Abernathy

Financial Counselor (SmartMoney)

Gerardo Alpajon

Facility Staff

Salem Baer

Communications Mananger

Monica Benton

Service Coordinator

Rachel Boland

Client Support Coordinator

Michael Brown

Facility Staff

Emilee Boyes

Client Services Manager

Marcus Gibson

Facility Manager

Becky Heisler

Director of Volunteer Mobilization

Dom Hutson

Service Coordinator

Johnmark Oudersluys

Executive Director

Brittany Sisson

Service Coordinator

Jim Strayhorn

Director of Spiritual Growth

Dani Watkins

Program Director

Emily Wenstrup

Service Coordinator

Leslie Whalen

Continuous Improvement Manager

Board Of Directors

Illya Thomas

Crossroads Church

Jennifer Mueller

Cintas

Natalie Hurks

Procter & Gamble

William Gipson

Procter & Gamble

Deborah Lydon

Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

Laura Peraino

Community Volunteer

Scott Phillips

Frost, Brown, Todd LLC

Tim Senff

Crossroads Church

Tom Shepherd

Board Chair - Shepherd Chemical

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