Partners in Change pairs trained volunteer coaches with adults who are desiring to assert greater control over circumstances and challenges holding them back.


Partners in Change chose its logo with thoughtful intention. The acorn is a symbol of strength and growth, reminding us all that the seeds we sow today have exceptional potential. Its heart "stem" represents compassion, and the many diamonds of the acorn cap represent the cherished community partners who make our work possible. Finally, we included clasped hands to emphasize our belief in the transformative value and power of a sincere relationship along life's journey. 



In 1972, Partners in Change (PIC) co-founder Neil Shorthouse co-created Communities in Schools (CIS). Today, CIS is the nation's leading dropout prevention program, operating in thousands of schools in 25 states and engaging with 1.6 million children, most of whom are living in poverty. CIS surrounds students with a community of support, leading to a substantial increase in school attendance, grade promotion, and higher graduation rates. 

Over the years, Neil came to see adults as the lynchpin for the transformation of economically-struggling communities. Having witnessed the long-lasting impact of intentional, personal support for youth, Neil shifted his focus to adults whom he saw as keys to children's success and community strength — creating Partners in Change in 2019. 

PIC takes coaching's proven track record of success for executives and college students and bringing that potential to people in low-income situations. PIC invests in the existing capacity within adults wanting to move their lives forward.

It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”

George Eliot

19th century English novelist, poet, and journalist

our Team

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President &

Neil is president and co-founder of Partners in Change (PIC). PIC was inspired by Communities In Schools (CIS) of which Neil is also the co-founder. As a premier organization supporting children, families, schools, and communities, CIS places caring adults into healthy relationships with children whose academic success and social well-being are threatened. Today, CIS operates in thousands of schools in 25 states, engaging with 1.6 million children.


Partners in Change shifts the focus to adults — pairing trained volunteer coaches with other adults seeking to self-empower and improve their lives and circumstances. 


For more than 50 years, Neil has worked to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth and their families through his efforts at CIS and other nonprofit organizations. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including Leadership Foundations, Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Rotary Club of Atlanta West End, and Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Neil continues to work on programs focused on strengthened communities, the betterment of their residents, and improved learning experiences for their children.


Neil is married to Patty Pflum and has lived in the Grant Park section of Atlanta since 1971. They have four children, nine grandchildren, one great granddaughter, and are members of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Atlanta. 


Kathleen C. Bryant

Kathleen joined Partners in Change after ten years leading development and engagement efforts at The Lovett School and High Meadows School. Prior to that role, Kathleen was a lead consultant with Non-Profit Leadership, providing board recruitment, fundraising, and vision development and training to over 25 local, state, national, and international clients, including CHRIS 180, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Girls Incorporated, WomenWork! Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences,  Advocates for Bartow's Children, and EARTH University in Costa Rica. 

At Partners in Change, Kathleen has led the development and implementation of PIC's innovative coaching model, messaging vehicles, external relations, and operational systems. Kathleen also oversees PIC's volunteer partner organization outreach, coaching team support, and the training and stewardship of our volunteer coaches. 


Kathleen received her BA from UCLA and a Masters in Community Development and Urban Planning from Georgia State University. Kathleen moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles with her husband David in 1992. They love our city, live in Decatur, and enjoy good food, time with friends, hiking, travel, and treasured time with their two young adult daughters. 

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Kim Owens is a native of Atlanta. She attended Atlanta Public Schools and holds a BA degree in Political Science from Alabama A&M University. 


Kim has served as a volunteer in communities in metro Atlanta counties for the past 25 years in school councils, nonprofit boards and seeking political office. Kim Owens is the owner/broker of Cox & Company Real Estate, LLC where she has had a successful career for over 26 years, now supporting a team of 17 agents. 

After raising and educating her 2 children in the public school system with her husband, she realized that her 2nd company (Family and Community Engagement Society) should be around engagement to support the public school system. This led Kim to get in the trenches of Atlanta Public Schools, creating better relationships with families, schools, and communities, leading to new partnerships and a thriving school culture. 

After meeting a like-minded person, Neil Shorthouse, she decided to join him to support parents through self-empowerment and self-care, by way of life coaching. Her hope and dreams are to always be a beacon in family and community engagement, and homeownership.

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Coach Coordinator and trainer

Tonika is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor.  She identifies as a social service advocate with an aim to positively impact the lives of individuals and families.


This passion has proven to be an asset in her work as an administrator, in program management and development, and serving on the boards of social service organizations.  Currently, she provides counseling and consulting services through her company, All In Dew Time, LLC. 

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TEAM Coordinator 

As Founder and CEO of Phoenix Rising, LaTarsha Holden, PhD has 14 written books, created workshops, and changed the trajectory of countless men’s and women’s lives through her inspirational speaking and empowerment coaching. Dr. Holden continues her journey by providing a practical blueprint for success drawn directly from her personal life experiences.

Dr. Holden’s extraordinary story is one  persistency and success, transforming her life from homeless with six children, uneducated, and underemployed to a sought-after speaker. She ran for City Council in 2017, and went from a GED to receiving her Doctorate in Leadership Studies.

Dr. Holden has received many accolades including being named 2020 GA/National Mother of the Year by American Mother’s Inc., being featured in the Heart of a Champion docuseries by the Women’s Professional Basketball Association, receiving a City of Atlanta Proclamation as an Emerging Leader and an Ambassadorship for her humanitarian work. Dr. Holden has been featured in several magazines, interviewed on countless radio broadcasts, and been nominated as a National Top Influencer for 2020.

At Partners in Change (PIC), Dr. Holden will apply her life experience and leadership knowledge to actively support and encourage our PIC coaching teams. Dr. Holden has six adult children, all of whom are successful and accomplished in their lives.


Kelsey holds a BA in Sociology and is an Americorps VISTA alum. She has experience working with direct and indirect social services and has worked in a variety of settings. As Technology Administrator, she works on optimization of technology platforms and applications to ensure smooth operation of Partners in Change processes.

Kelsey is a native of West Virginia and has been living in Atlanta since 2019. While West Virginia will always be her first love, Kelsey loves Atlanta and its vibrant, diverse cultures. She loves exploring the city and enjoying all its greenery. She is humbled to have the opportunity to serve this wonderful community. 

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Joey joined Partners in Change (PIC) after a career in media.  He is from the Atlanta area and spent a decade in Los Angeles before returning to Atlanta in 2019.  He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Georgia.  


Joey volunteered at Reading to Kids while in Los Angeles, which inspired him to take an interest in his local community.   That inspiration and a desire for social change motivated him to switch career paths.  Once he learned about Partners in Change’s mission and work in the community, he wanted to join the team.  His work as a team coordinator is spent supporting coaching teams and helping maintain PIC’s mission.


Joey lives in Decatur with his wife Carrie and son Isaiah.  They love exploring all the fun areas of Atlanta and have yet to say no to a delicious meal.

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Jessica Watkins is a recent graduate of Kennesaw State University, obtaining her B.S. in Psychology with minors in Management and Leadership Studies. Jessica served in numerous leadership roles on campus and competed for the Kennesaw Women’s Track and Field Team.


Since graduating, Jessica’s passion for equity and social justice let her to join the team at The New Generation Project, serving as the Chief Programs Officer, and at Partners In Change as an Americorps VISTA. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys hiking, reading, spending time with family, and her volunteer positions as a middle school track and field coach and the Vice President for Kennesaw’s Black Alumni Society.


Our Partners

The mission and vision of Partners in Change (PIC) rely on all-important partnerships between our Coaches and community members, and between PIC and our valued partners in the community.

PIC greatly appreciates our Volunteer Partner Organizations — such as corporations, colleges, non-for-profits, and faith groups — who connect us to volunteers interested in becoming Partners in Change Coaches. 

We are grateful to our Community Partner Organizations — community-based groups — who recommend to PIC their clients who are interested in working with a PIC Coach and becoming a PIC Member. 

We recognize and thank all of our treasured partners for their support and their commitment to our mission.

Partners in Change Training Partners

Thank you for sharing your expertise and guidance in the development and execution of our PIC Volunteer Coach Training.


Partners in Change Collaborative Partners

Thank you for your engagement and commitment as we pursue our shared vision for supporting those living in poverty. 

Official Partner

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Partners in Change Funding Partners

We are grateful for our individual and organizational funding partners who

share and empower our vision to enable social, personal, and

economic upward mobility for all individuals.


Individual Donors

Keith Eigel, Joseph Kellogg, John Lanigan, 

Barbara Martin, David Peterson, Alexandra Roddy, Butch Rodriquez, 

Patty Pflum and Neil Shorthouse, Dan and Margy Smith, John and Sue Wieland