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Rising Stars: Meet Kelly Klein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Klein.

Hi Kelly, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I consider myself one of the very lucky ones. I celebrated my 27 years with Easter Seals Greater Houston, a local nonprofit serving Harris, and 13 surrounding counties for over 75 years last June 2nd. On a daily basis, I get the privilege of seeing babies, children, and adults with all types of disabilities exceed expectations.

Amazingly, enough I found my way to this place completely by chance and at the same time specifically on purpose. I think that’s the way the best parts of life work. My “god brother”, who is 2 years younger than I am, was born with intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy. As an adult, I now know that he lives in a home with wonderful caregivers who all but adopted him into their own families, a loving family that visits often, and a joyful life. As an adult, I now knew, what my “godparents” decisions had to be. I will not go into to whys and hows. The programs that exist to help families today DID NOT exist when we were little.

Flash forward through college, through working and living in NYC, through a marriage and a child and then back to Houston. I decided after having worked for a very large Madison Ave. law firm…that maybe I need to be thinking about the greater good….and I apply for as many non-profit administrative assistant positions as I can find. The only phone call and interview I received were from Easter Seals Greater Houston and my mentor, Manny Mones. I remember walking through the doors of the old building and feeling an overwhelming sensation of coming home and knowing that I would be getting the position.

I am still here 27 years later – as the Development Director now. I cannot imagine being anywhere else. This place is so special. I have gotten to know and watch so many families, clients, children, and adults – all of those who are struggling, but also advocate, excel and achieve things no one thought possible.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
We fight hard to help families stay intact and to provide support for people with disabilities to live in the community. Organizations such as ourselves exist for this reason today. The last 27 years have been filled with major shares of ups and downs, Enron, Katrina, Ike, Rita, Covid-19, and more along the way. Despite the downs, Easter Seals Greater Houston has grown every year. The number of clients we serve is always on the rise, their needs are always more desperate, and the gaps are always seemingly huge…but at the same time – an incredibly dedicated staff, incredible supporters and volunteers, and innovative new programs along the way to help fill those gaps, help many out of desperation and actually see a change in our community.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
People hear Development Director and think fundraiser, and while yes I am 100%; I love that after 27 years I am also an educator. 1 in 5 has as a disability. That is a large part of our community and the largest over-arching segment of diversity; Disability is not just a person who is confined to a wheelchair. It’s an ever-growing population of young boys diagnosed with autism, it’s a friend who has epilepsy, and it’s your great aunt living with Alzheimer’s.

Our lives are touched by it every day. Demand for our services continues to grow. Funding continues to decrease. Your neighbor whose baby was born prematurely, your cousin whose 2-year-old needs a little help with speech, and your closest friend whose baby was just diagnosed with a developmental delay can all get that little extra bit of help to catch up to their peers because of the communities support of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Once our community –corporations AND individuals – see disability through a larger lens and understand that they have a stake in ensuring that services and opportunities for people with disabilities exist, they are more likely to give, invest in and employ people with disabilities and help advance services for families.

Easter Seals Greater Houston was one of the 1st recipients of the MacKenzie Scott grants. That is true testament to the quality of our programs and services, our leadership, and our stewardship.

How do you think about luck?
Having graduated with a BA in Art History and Studio, I truly thought my story would be as a curator. Never in a million years would I have thought to find my calling in nonprofit and the disability sector. I don’t know if it’s luck or providence that I am here, but I am blessed either way. My godmother came to take me to lunch soon after I started working at Easter Seals Greater Houston, and asked me as we were driving away from the building if I remembered it at all. I did not – she told me that my god brother had come to ESGH, when we were children and I had come with him. I guess that’s what they call a full circle moment.


  • As the Development Director of Easter Seals Greater Houston, I am charged with fundraising to offset the costs of our programming.
  • Less than 5% of charitable giving goes to a disability, even though statistics show 1 in 5 has a disability and with the boomers, it will continue to rise.
  • Through government grants, foundation and corporate support, event funds and individual giving, all of our thirteen programs are offered for free or sliding scale with the exception of our Caroline School.
  • Most of our families / clients live below the poverty line, simply due to medical bills and caregiver costs; though many families who can afford private therapies come to us because of our exceptional services.
  • 0.91 of every dollar raised at Easter Seals Greater Houston goes directly to programming and all remain here locally.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kelly Klein
Jenny Antill

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