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People of downtown: krista thompson of covenant house vancouver

This month we had the honour of interviewing Krista Thompson, ICD.D, CEO of Covenant House Vancouver.

Krista Thompson was born in Montreal but raised in Vancouver, where she is now the proud mother of four daughters and grandmother to four grandchildren.

Not only is she a dedicated mother, but she is also a passionate and visionary leader who cares deeply about the lives of young people. Krista is the CEO of Covenant House Vancouver, western Canada’s largest privately funded organization serving youth who are facing and at-risk of homelessness. A graduate of BCIT’s School of Business, Krista moved to the non-profit sector after more than a decade of working in finance. “Supporting young people is my passion, and joining Covenant House in 2006 was the realization of a lifelong dream,” she says. 

Since joining Covenant House, Krista has led the organization through its largest period of growth to date; she oversaw 230 employees, a 300% growth in revenue, and was instrumental in raising $56M for a recent capital project that will house new programs to help youth at Covenant House gain lifelong independence. 

Krista holds the Institute of Corporate Director’s designation (ICD.D), was a 2015 YWCA Woman of Distinction award winner, was Business in Vancouver’s 2015 CEO of the Year in the Registered Charities category, and was named the Downtown Vancouver BIA’s Outstanding Individual in 2018. In addition to her position at Covenant House, Krista serves on the board of the Carital Continuing Care Society, is a past member of the International Ethics Committee, and is the past Board Chair of the Canadian Council of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  

Having worked in downtown Vancouver for over 20 years, Krista is drawn to “the pace and energy that can only be found in the heart of the city.” She believes there are always new things to see, new people to meet, and new ideas to explore. “That’s part of the cosmopolitan ethos of life in downtown Vancouver, and I want to be a part of that. Young people want to be a part of it too- that’s why Covenant House is located downtown,” she explains. 

Covenant House provides a safe haven from the hardships of homelessness to young people aged 16 – 24 years old. Their purpose is to “serve all youth, with absolute respect and unconditional love, to help youth experiencing homelessness, and to protect and safeguard all youth in need.” Through a continuum of services, including street outreach, drop-in programs, crisis shelter, and a long-term supported residential program, Covenant House fosters confidence, encouraging young people to believe in themselves and make informed choices for their lives. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been an “especially traumatic time for youth who don’t have the support of family and are struggling with housing and other necessities of life,” she says. Thankfully, due to the generosity of their donors, Covenant House has not missed one day of service, and has continued to provide support to young people throughout the entire pandemic. “I want to pay special tribute to the staff at Covenant House for their heroic efforts these past 18 months. Our staff are truly incredible, and because of them, youth have been able to count on us through all the ups and downs of the past months,” says Krista. Krista takes pride in the fact that no matter the circumstances, the youth entering Covenant House will always be met with a welcoming smile, delicious and nutritious meals, and a warm and comfortable place they can call home.

Krista is optimistic about the future of downtown Vancouver and Covenant House. “We are in the midst of the largest expansion of our facilities and services in our history, and are eagerly awaiting the completion of two new buildings downtown and a major renovation of our building in Gastown,” she says. These new facilities will be able to house twice the amount of youth that they do now, and offer them a range of exciting new programs like on-site sports and fitness in their new gym and music and art in updated spaces. “The future for youth in Vancouver is bright!” she exclaims. 

“Covenant House is very proud to be part of our downtown community of businesses and services that make up the resilient fabric of our great city.  We are super excited about what the future holds for all the people who live, work, and play here and for those that will join us in the decades to come,” Krista says. 

To learn more about Covenant House Vancouver, click here.