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Longtime Stepping Stone executive director Cheryl Houk to retire this year

Photo credit:
Cheryl Houk

Cheryl Houk, the longtime exeuctive director of Stepping Stone, announced last week that she would retire this year.

Houk originally served the organization for 17 years, overseeing periods of incredible growth, before leaving to pursue other opportunities. She was re-hired in 2015, after the position became open again, to help the organization get through a period of financial turmoil.

During Houk’s first 17 years with Stepping Stone she led the efforts to purchase the organization's property in City Heights and build the current state-of-the-art facility, all while operating without a budget loss.  

“Her vision and fiscal responsibility are both critical to help Stepping Stone grow and thrive,” said board chair Michael Moore in 2015.

A national search will commence soon to find a replacement for Houk. She has pledged to remain in the position until her succesor is brought on board, which is estimated to be sometime around this summer.

Houk sent a note to supporters last week announcing her plans to retire. See her message below.

It’s my pleasure to wish you a Happy New Year. In this time of continued uncertainty, I am extraordinarily proud of the staff at Stepping Stone. They continue to find new and creative ways to help those seeking treatment get the care they need in a safe and secure environment. 

Stepping Stone was founded in 1976 to fill an important need - offering members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to recover free of judgement and discrimination, and set up with the best tools and resources for long-term success. Through thick and thin, we have stayed true to that mission, and now have a national reputation as one of the best agencies of our kind in the country. Times have changed, but the need for our services remains as critical as the day we started. 

I have quite literally watched Stepping Stone grow up around me and I could not be more proud of the success it has become. I have been the Executive Director twice, for a total of 24 years, and what brings me great satisfaction is the understanding that we are successful because of the sum of all of the amazing talent that we have been lucky to have in our ranks. 

Friends - I have decided to retire this year from my position at Stepping Stone. I do so with a heart full of gratitude. I believe this is the right time to find my successor - the staff is the best it’s ever been, the board is active and engaged, and our reputation in the community and beyond is fantastic. I will stay until a replacement is found, which we believe will be in the Summer of 2022.

I have been working with the board of directors for years to plan for this transition. The board understands the need to fill this role with the right individual to carry on our mission for years and decades to come, and they have retained a national LGBTQ search firm to identify and present candidates for consideration. This process will involve a considerable amount of input from staff, supporters and the community, and may take many months.  

You will likely hear more about the search for a new Executive Director in the coming weeks and months, but I wanted to make sure you heard the news from me first. 

With gratitude and love, 


More information about Stepping Stone can be found here.