The head of an Illawarra homelessness and domestic violence organisation is stepping down after almost two decades working to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
Kathy Colyer, chief executive officer of Supported Accommodation and Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra (SAHSSI), has announced her retirement after nine years at the helm and 17 years with the organisation in total.
Interim CEO Diane Manns said Ms Colyer joined the organisation when it was a small co-operative, before it transitioned to the Wollongong Women's Refuge and, in 2014, became SAHSSI.
"Along the way she earned the respect of everyone from the women and children impacted by homelessness and domestic violence to corporate and government leaders as well as the people she worked with," Ms Manns said.
She said the growth of SAHSSI was one of Ms Colyer's big achievements, including its expansion from the Illawarra into the Shoalhaven.
Business development manager Gillian Vickers spoke of her ability to build positive relationships.
"One of her strengths has been her ability to make strong partnerships in the community," Ms Vickers said.
Ms Manns credited Ms Colyer with building a highly regarded team at SAHSSI.
Ms Vickers described her as someone who was "very approachable", with an open-door policy for staff.
"Her commitment and dedication have helped SAHSSI grow as a not-for-profit provider of women's homelessness services, and she will be sorely missed by our entire team," Ms Manns said.
Ms Manns has been on the board of SAHSSI and will serve as CEO until a permanent replacement for Ms Colyer is found.
She said Ms Colyer had a great relationship with the board, whose members were sad to see her go but supportive of her decision.
SAHSSI is a specialist homelessness service that provides case management, housing and crisis accommodation to vulnerable women and children, along with counselling support.
It has also run early intervention domestic violence programs in high schools and preventative children protection programs.