SOS will be saying farewell to one of their biggest champions as Executive Director Connie Cahoone has announced her retirement for the end of March 2024. Since her arrival in 2012, Cahoone has led the organization through considerable growth and development and has greatly increased the organization’s presence in local communities.
Discussing Cahoone’s tenure, SOS Board of Directors President Rochelle Rowley said, “Connie continues to provide outstanding service to SOS and the Emporia community as Executive Director. Her strategic leadership resulted in a successful capital campaign allowing SOS to bring all programs under one roof to better serve the community. Her skills helped SOS grow and become more stable as well as more adaptable to the needs of those they serve.”
SOS Board of Directors member Tyler Cu
rtis mirrored Rowley’s praise saying, “Connie has been instrumental in growing SOS during her tenure as Executive Director. From leading a capital campaign to consolidate locations and better serve clients with financial stability through increasing funding and growing staff, SOS is a better organization because of Connie’s leadership and dedication to its mission.”
SOS began in 1976 as an outgrowth of the Emporia Chapter of the National Organization for Women formed from the social justice movement of the 1960s and ’70s. A steering committee made up of representatives from various helping professions met to formalize Sexual Offense Services and coordinate efforts to serve rape victims. SOS is now the only organization in Kansas to offer integrated crisis, child and educational services in Chase, Coffey, Lyon, Morris and Osage counties.
In the years that Cahoone has been at the helm, she spearheaded the growth of community partnerships, special events and key victim services offered by SOS. Cahoone was instrumental in the development of Hope-A-Palooza, an annual fundraising gala designed to increase public awareness of SOS’ mission. She helped initiate the highly successful SOS Strong and Heroes for Hope campaigns and expanded the SOS Holiday Drive to connect more donors with families in need. Cahoone personally presided over every aspect of the Stronger Together Capital Campaign to facilitate the purchase and extensive renovation of the agency’s current headquarters, the SOS Community Advocacy and Outreach Complex, allowing for the consolidation of all four programs into a more accessible yet secure location.
Along with this growth, Cahoone worked to expand services and increased the size of the organization to a staff of nearly 50 employees and over 100 volunteers. Additionally, Cahoone has recently led the organization in expanding their efforts to be prepared to best serve the area’s diverse community and to increase efforts for the organization to be inclusive to all by expanding DEI training and initiatives, as well as developing a Latinx Outreach program and increasing the availability of Spanish speaking advocates and Spanish language resources.
SOS regularly collaborates with law enforcement, education institutions, medical professionals, local businesses and other human service organizations to ensure every survivor has access to the most comprehensive care possible: safe shelter, judicial advocacy, counseling, victim compensation and basic life amenities. Under Cahoone’s leadership, SOS also developed the Safe Bar and Safe Place programs, working with local businesses to help ensure a safe and positive community response to individuals in need of safety and immediate assistance.
Prior to her time at SOS, Cahoone was a Senior Vice President at First Community Bank of Emporia and had served as United Way Allocations Committee Chair and as United Way Drive Chair, as well as holding leadership roles in other community organizations. About her role in leadership, Cahoone says, “As a leader, I believe in what I do and do it with my whole heart. I strive to demonstrate integrity, honesty, loyalty, respect, and hard work to others.” Both professionally and in the community, Cahoone says, “I want to inspire, love, and embrace those with whom my paths may cross.”
Recognition of these qualities and her dedication to the organization and community that she serves came in 2022 when Cahoone was recognized by Attorney General Derek Schmidt with the Community Champion Victim Service Award for making a difference for Kansas crime victims.
Reflecting on her passion and conviction in supporting the organization’s mission. Rowley said, “I admire Connie not only for her professional efforts, but also for her personal family values and compassion for all.”
SOS will begin the search for a replacement for Cahoone in September.
Stay informed of what's happening at SOS!