The Los Angeles Mission, one of the nation’s largest service providers to the homeless, has named board member the Rev. Troy Vaughn as the organization’s new president and CEO. He will succeed Herb Smith, who is retiring after leading the mission for the past 14 years.
Vaughn has served on the board of directors for a year and was selected after an extensive nationwide search. He previously held executive roles with Shields for Families, the LAMP Community and The Weingart Center for the Homeless.
“Prior to joining the board of directors, I had been a friend of the mission for a number of years,” Vaughn said. “My family and I would come and serve meals at the annual Thanksgiving meal, participate in events and give back. I’ve always respected the work that the mission has done, and Herb and I have worked together on a lot of issues surrounding the homeless in this community.”
For more than 81 years, the mission has helped homeless and disadvantaged members of the community by providing emergency services such as shelter, food and clothing, in addition to medical and dental services. The nonprofit faith-based organization also offers long-term rehabilitation programs including education, transitional housing and counseling, and job training and placement.
“We’re a mission without walls and intend to spread our work to ensure that we’re impacting friends and neighborhoods across LA County,” Vaughn said. “One of the things I want to do is create a continuum of care for the people that we serve. While they’re living in our transitional housing, they can have hope and a future for permanent housing once they leave.”
Vaughn’s personal experience with overcoming homelessness and drug abuse many years ago enables him to connect and empathize with the members of the community the mission serves. He remains dedicated to helping others get off the streets permanently.
“It’s important that we’re able to empathize on different levels because a lot of people are just a few degrees of separation from homelessness, either directly or through someone they know,” Vaughn said.
“It was a spiritual awakening for me when I gave my life to the Lord, who led me through the process of transformation, which is why I feel like things have come full circle here at the mission. I’m hoping that my life can be a reflection of what’s possible for our residents, students, friends and neighbors. I intend to make sure that my life is a living testimony of what the power of love, grace and friendship can achieve.”
The mission’s faith-based approach includes residential and nonresidential Christian discipleship programs designed to offer spiritual and physical tools to help members of the community overcome addictions and abuse so that they can lead happier and healthier lives.
“We are a refuge without judgment or timelines, and unlike some organizations that place restrictions on people, we like to let them self-discover and participate in their own process of self-transformation,” Vaughn said.
“The first thing we have people do when they come to the mission is write a letter about why they’re here and what they want to get out of this experience. Whenever they start to move off the path toward their goal, we take out the letter and have them read their own words to help them get back on track.”
In addition to his role as president and CEO of the Mission, Vaughn works as the executive director and co-founder of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership. He is also the founder, president and CEO of Christ-Centered Ministries and the senior pastor of Inglewood Community Church. In August, Vaughn was appointed to the board of the prison industry authority by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“I’m really excited about the possibility of using the various hats I wear and the relationships I’ve developed to bridge any gaps and leverage our resources in a positive and creative way,” Vaughn said.
The LA Mission recently met with the Department of Public Health regarding its organization’s efforts to serve the community during COVID-19. As of today, the mission remains COVID-19 free and has partnered with public officials to design a process of best practices for handling COVID-19 that other similar organizations can follow.
“One of the first challenges we encountered during the pandemic was to come up with ways to continue to serve our community, while at the same time make sure that we’re following proper protocols,” Vaughn said.
“While we look forward to the day when we’re no longer restricted in movement and capacities in terms of COVID-19, we have done a really great job at keeping our friends, families, neighbors and staff safe.”
Every year, the LA Mission hosts numerous events, including its annual Thanksgiving celebration, where it blocks off the street and serves food to members in the community. While the event is going to look different this year as a result of the pandemic, Vaughn and his team have risen to the challenge and will provide individually boxed hot meals to go, in addition to hygiene supplies. The day before, they will provide boxed meals to families in South LA as well.
“We are thinking outside the box, and we won’t allow COVID to stop us from being there for those that need it most,” Vaughn said.
“LA Mission’s doors are open, and we are still serving our friends and neighbors. We continue to look for ways to partner and serve those that are less fortunate. It’s our charge to make sure those people understand they’re not alone and that an organization like ours is capable and willing to serve them during this time of great need.”