By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – With the retirement of Debbie McCall at the end of March, Kalin’s Center was left with a void in the executive director’s position.

According to the organization’s website, “The Kalin’s Center is a non-profit organization started in 2001. At the Kalin’s Center, we provide a safe and child-friendly environment for abused children to tell their story. We provide services to child victims up to the age of eighteen years for: sexual, emotional, and physical abuse as well as child neglect and child witnesses of crimes and their non-offending family members.”

It takes a special person to lead a non-profit organization of this nature and in a press release from Kalin’s Center – received earlier this week – it was announced Angela Cross had been selected as the new executive director.

“Cross has served as the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer of Houston County for 33 years. She also brings her proven executive, leadership and community partnership abilities from serving as the Board President of the Kalin’s Center the previous seven years,” the press release stated. “Cross not only has the many qualifications for the position but she possesses the passion for assisting the voiceless victims of abuse.”

Contacted by phone on Thursday, July 6, Cross said she retired from the county on Friday, June 30 and started her new position on Monday, July 3.

“I really didn’t have plans to retire until after my son graduated from high school,” she explained. “Debbie (McCall) retired at the end of March so we were starting to look for someone to be the E.D. Well, my husband (Crockett Police Chief David “Buddy” Cross) said ‘Why don’t you apply?’”

Cross said she had encouraged Kalin’s Center Financial Administrator Ashley Crawford, as well as several others, to apply for the position.

“Buddy and I talked about it and he said why don’t you go ahead and retire now, since you’re going to pretty soon anyway? I told him I wasn’t ready to retire. But – long story short – we kept talking about it and I decided maybe I should,” Cross said.

“I’m not a stay-at-home person so once I did retire, I was going to find something else,” she added. “I applied and I got it. I went ahead and retired on the (June) 30th and I started here on Monday.”

The newly hired executive director said she believed her 33 years of experience in the county’s juvenile probation office will help her to succeed in her new role.

“I’ve also been on the Kalin’s Center Board since 2004 and I’ve been president of the board for the last six or seven years. I’m on the MDT Committee,” she said.

When asked what the MDT Committee was, Cross said the acronym stood for Multi-Disciplinary Team.

“That’s a team that comes in and we discuss the cases with the kids on a monthly basis. Who’s getting counseling, who’s going to court – we talk about the cases Kalin’s Center has interviewed to make sure no one falls through the cracks,” she explained.

“I know most of the aspects about the way Kalin’s Center runs,” Cross added. “There are some things I don’t know, but I’m going to learn them.”

The current staff at the center will remain, Cross said. Rae Lynn Simpson will continue as the program director, Norma Tapa will continue as the forensic interviewer and Ashley Crawford will continue in her role as the financial administrator.

While the operations of Kalin’s Center will remain the same, Cross said the “Style Show,” normally held in September, will get a makeover.

“This year, we’re going to do a little something different. We have reserved Park Hill and we are going to have a fundraiser out there on Sept. 9. We don’t have the particulars yet, but it will center on our new building,” she said.

As the center moves forward with a new building to expand services for victims of child abuse, the Board of Directors and staff are excited to welcome the new director and the positive contributions that she will bring in the future.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com