(Sarasota, FL) – Sarasota County Head Start provider Children First is pleased to announce the hiring of Kristen Theisen as the nonprofit agency’s new director of advancement and stewardship. Theisen is the former chief development officer for Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Inc. She succeeds Angie Stringer, who moved on from Children First at the end of August to become executive director of Sarasota-based Girls, Inc.
A native of northeastern Ohio, Theisen has more than 10 years of experience in fundraising and community relations throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. While at Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Inc., which she joined in 2007, she spearheaded efforts to strengthen the nonprofit’s donor relations and planned giving programs, eventually resulting in the organization’s first bequest of $1 million or more. Also during Theisen’s tenure, the agency’s fundraising revenues increased by nearly 75% in one 5-year period. Both helped Meals on Wheels PLUS earn distinction as the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Nonprofit of the Year in 2013.
“We are thrilled to have a professional with Kristen’s advanced level of experience and in-depth knowledge of all facets of fundraising and marketing join our team,” said Children First President and CEO Philip Tavill, in announcing Theisen’s hire.
In addition to Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, Inc., Theisen has held positions as a sales and marketing manager for the Bradenton Herald and as a field marketing and sales manager for Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, and is a past member of the Women’s Action Committee of Manatee Memorial Hospital and the Leadership Manatee Alumni Association. She is also a past board member of Manatee Educational Television and is a current board member of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
About Children First
Founded in 1961, Children First offers full-day pre-school, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children from low-income families ages birth to five years old at 13 sites located throughout Sarasota County. Through Children First, the children receive two nutritious meals and a healthy snack each day and work with well-trained and nurturing teachers and staff to gain the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. In total, Children First provides more than 50% of the nutrition the children receive each week.
Children First also helps families with parenting skills and literacy classes, career training, and referrals for housing, food, clothing and employment assistance. All are critical since the annual income for the families Children First serves is at or below the federal poverty level of $20,090 for a family of three.