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Knoxville Change Center announces its executive director will resign at the end of the year

A search committee has been created to search for the next director.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Change Center announced Tuesday its executive director, Nicole Chandler, will be resigning from her position at the end of the year.

The Change Center did not say why Chandler was resigning. A search committee has been created to find her successor.  

Chandler helped lead the creation of the Change Center from its initial inception in the mid-2010s through its formal grand opening in December 2018, and has served as its executive director ever since. Before that, she worked with Project GRAD Knoxville as a student and family support coach and campus manager, as well as a volunteer enrichment coordinator with Fulton High School.

“What an incredible journey this has been. To walk alongside an amazing Board of Directors, staff, supporters, business partners, schools, city/county, volunteers, parents, over 9,200 donors, leaders, a loving community to bring to fruition what was dreamt in the minds of youth has been my absolute joy,” Chandler said.

The Change Center was created to provide a safe afterschool space for local teenagers. It has been central to the city's violence interruption plans in the years since. The group also works with local organizations to provide meals for student families.

In June 2021, 10News looked into a city-approved $150,000 donation to the East Knoxville nonprofit, which was provided to the Change Center on the condition it implement a new, sustainable business plan with the help of the city, Knox County and private sector leaders.

As of June 4, no plan had been developed, nor had there been a meeting about creating one.

In a statement in June, City of Knoxville spokesperson Eric Vreeland said "conversations have taken place, but the working group hasn't met yet so the business plan has not yet been fully developed."  

Since its opening, the city has donated $700,000 taxpayer dollars to the Change Center. The county government also matched the additional funds, bringing the total to $1 million taxpayer dollars donated to the nonprofit since it opened.

At the time, Chandler declined to speak about the new business plan.

The city of Knoxville stood firm in its commitment to the center, saying children need a safe, enriching place to go in the community.

"No one organization has all the answers, it’s going to take all of us," Chandler said. "It's going to take partnership and collaboration and we’re doing those things."