Dawn Godshall, new executive director CACLV, takes the reins June 1

Written by on May 6, 2021

Dawn Godshall, new executive director CACLV, takes the reins June 1

By Brad Klein

May 6, 2021

Dawn Godshall.

The new executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Dawn Godshall, speaks with WLVR’s Brad Klein. They talk about her extensive experience working in anti-poverty programs in the Lehigh Valley, her plans for the future of CACLV, and the legacy of her predecessor, Alan Jennings, who steps down at the end of May.

Listen tot he story.

Brad Klein

“In a few weeks, Dawn Godshall steps up to lead the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. It’s an anti-poverty group that provides a host of services relating to food and housing insecurity and economic and educational opportunity. The former director, Alan Jennings, has held the job for more than 40 years.

“Dawn, thanks for joining us.”

Dawn Godshall

“Thank you for having me.”

Klein

“You are not new to the organization or to vital work in the Lehigh Valley. Can you give me the briefest of CVs?” 

Godshall

“I started here as the director of the Sixth Street Shelter in 2013 and made my way to the associate executive director for the Community Service Program and then was promoted to deputy executive director for operations, which is my current title until June 1.” 

Klein

“It sounds like you’ve been in all kinds of different roles from extremely hands-on and working with the public, to really supervising an organization that’s very important here in the Lehigh Valley.”

Godshall

“I actually loved the hands-on part of it. I miss a bit of the connection with the community. I love being very close to the participants and learning about their trials and tribulations and figuring out ways to help them to get back on their feet.”

Klein

“CACLV, broadly speaking, is a nonprofit that battles poverty in the Valley. It runs a shelter program, it runs racial and ethnic justice campaigns, food banks. What are the programs that you’re most proud of?” 

Godshall

“Wow, we have quite a few, more than a dozen, so it’s hard to choose. I love our She Has Everything (SHE) program which is a program for young girls that teaches them how to be self-sufficient and make good, healthy choices for their lives. 

“We also have a Generation Next program which goes into high schools and helps students to understand that they can go to college and so far, of the high schoolers that get into our program, 93% of them go to college. So we’ve been very successful with that as well.” 

Klein

“There’s nothing that has a lasting impact like education and increasing educational opportunities.” 

Godshall

“It was great for me. I mean, I grew up in foster homes and before my own parents, my father in particular, passed away, he instilled education into my sisters and me. We were taught that education was an important way to get out of poverty.” 

Klein

“You know, I know this is too big a question to answer in a quick interview, but how do you characterize your vision for CACLV going forward?” 

Godshall

“I really want to see programs for children and programs that are looking at affordable housing in our community are at the forefront of what we do.  There’s so much construction going on all around us, and my first thought is: where do people live at an affordable rate?”

Klein

“Let me ask you:  The outgoing executive director, Alan Jennings, had a huge impact over many years in the Valley. Any summary thoughts about his legacy?” 

Godshall

“Yeah, wow, Alan. There will never be another Alan Jennings. 

“There is so much that he has done for this community. He has created programs at this agency that have enabled people to see their dreams come to fruition. So we have first-time homebuyer programs, people who have always had a dream of starting their own business, we have programs that will help them to take that dream and start a business plan. We have so many programs that have just made this community a better place to live. So I’m very proud of the things that he’s done here.” 

Klein

This work is so important. I’m sure we’ll want to speak again soon. Thank you so much for joining us.” 

Godshall

“Oh, thank you for having me, I really appreciate it.” 

Klein

“Dawn Godshall will be the new executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley starting in that position on June 1.”

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