The Drake House Staff

Meet The Drake House staff members who create and provide the programs that support North Fulton women and children who are experiencing homelessness. This is a team composed of professional social workers, educators, business & community leaders and so much more!

Kathy Swahn, Executive Director – Kathy is responsible for organizational management, fundraising and assets management. She is a founder and charter board president that has over 12 years of leadership with The Drake House, and eight years as a development director and fundraising specialist in the non-profit industry. She is well versed in community relations and understanding of the local civic, faith and government climate. She has BBA from UGA.





Christy Merritt, Director of Programs – Christy holds a BSW and has over 30 years experience working with children, adolescents, families, and the homeless. She has worked in program development with nonprofits since 1994, including developing the program and services for families at The Drake House. Christy ensures that best practices are maintained and communication with area referral and resource agencies are current.





Holly York, Director of Development – Holly joined The Drake House team from the American Cancer Society. She has also been actively involved in the North Fulton Community in grant review and funds distribution for a local charitable organization. She oversees fundraising for all individual, corporate, foundation, and civic donors. Holly is also responsible for community relations, event management, and grant writing. She holds a Masters in Science from GSU and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut. Her background is in management consulting, marketing, and finance and banking.




Kelli Tolbert, Family Intake Coordinator – Kelli is a double alumna of Kennesaw State University who completed her undergraduate bachelors degree in Public Social Service and who has a Masters of Social Work degree. She holds a certification in life coaching through the International Life Coaching Research Group. Kelli has over 18 years of experience in the human services, social work and private practice fields. She is also licensed as a LMSW in the State of Georgia.






Colleen Carrington, Family Services Coordinator – Colleen has a diverse background in social services and skills training in the following areas: crisis counseling, program administration, group facilitator on women’s issues, family and housing services, senior programming, sexual assault training, suicide prevention, and mental health training. Her undergraduate degree is from Spelman College and her Master of Social Work is from Georgia State University.





Caroline Choe, After School Program Coordinator – Caroline has teaching and student management experience in grades K-12. She currently holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature and International Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has worked in a variety of academic settings in the U.S. and abroad. Caroline is responsible for the daily operations of the after-school program and utilizing volunteer assistance in tutoring and enrichment activities.





Dianne Berry, Program Assistant – Dianne is an experienced Project Manager and Administrator who oversees the internal program components in support of the Family Services Team. She joins us after having served on staff at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church in the area of Children and Youth Ministry administration. Her role includes management of The Drake House client and alumni data files, client support and program administration. Dianne has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Management from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama.




 Kathryn Woerner, Career Coach – Kathryn brings over 20 years of professional experience to the career coaching role at The Drake House. Her background includes recruiting, networking, training, multi-line personal and commercial insurance, and global risk investigation. She holds a MSW from Boston University and is licensed in Georgia as a LMSW. Kathryn is skilled in Motivational Interviewing, CBT, group work, domestic violence safety and recovery, suicide risk analysis, child abuse and welfare issues, and family centered approach.





Cheri Huntington,  Volunteer and Resource Coordinator – She  holds a BA from University of Delaware and has a long history of work in the non-profit, legal and corporate world, with dynamic skills in the area of communication and organization.  Cheri’s duties include volunteer recruitment, training and retention; donation and data base management, coordination of resources from the community to the client, and managing work groups on The Drake House campus. 





Patti Kirk, Accounting Manager -Patti is a retired CPA with over 35 years of accounting and management experience, most recently with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. and The Carter Center. Patti graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BSBA degree, Accounting major. Patti manages all aspects of financial reporting & analysis, budget preparation and audit coordination.





Kimberly Jackson, The Drake Closet Boutique Manager & Buyer – Kimberly has 20+ years of experience in the retail store and marketing arena, as well as branding of specialty products. She manages the retail operations of both stores, to include inventory solicitation and merchandising, purchase of new inventory, volunteer development, marketing and sales. Kimberly earned a BS in Educational Psychology from UGA.





Pat Cronin, Resident Manager – Pat retired from Federal Express and moved from Tallahassee to be closer to her grandchildren. Pat resides on site and her duties include overseeing the families’ activities on campus and managing the property at night and over the weekend, when The Drake House offices are closed.






Dick Gavigan, Facilities Manager – Dick oversees the physical structures associated with The Drake House, The Drake Center and The Drake Closet resale boutiques. He has brought 35 years of project management/systems background in banking to coordinate all repairs, maintenance and construction projects. Dick has a BBA from Memphis University along with a high level of construction and carpentry skill. He works with a regular team of weekly facilities volunteers as well as volunteer workgroups.




Kabian Brown, Teen Program Coordinator

Kabian brings almost 10 years of experience working with families of diverse cultural, economic and educational backgrounds.  He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from LeMoyne College , and is a licensed Mental Health Specialist and Youth Services Specialist in NY, CT and GA. His therapeutic experience is effective in working with our resident teens, who originate from ten high schools and he  provides empowerment and enrichment programs and curriculum  two afternoon a week, as well as coordinates job shadowing and cultural experiences/field trips.


The Drake House and The Drake Closets enjoy a diverse range of volunteers to include professional services, office assistance, mentors, tutors, program speakers, youth group volunteers, landscaping teams, store cashiers, inventory sorters, and special events/fundraising volunteers.


Photography by Clark Savage, Clayton Cameracraft

Do you want to help support families in your community?

We welcome individual and corporate group volunteers for many of our programs.