Bill Bedrossian Tapped As His Replacement
After 30 years with the organization — 14 of them at the helm — Kevin Ryan is retiring in March as CEO and president of the youth homeless services organization Covenant House International. Bill Bedrossian, who leads Covenant House’s California chapter, will replace him.
Ryan is a big name in child welfare across the country and abroad. In addition to leading the largest charity in North America dedicated to serving homeless and vulnerable youth, he led New Jersey’s child welfare system during the early years of its ongoing reform. He also serves as a federal monitor watchdogging Texas’s beleaguered child welfare system and on an ongoing class action settlement in Michigan.
According to the organization, Ryan shepherded Covenant House International through the biggest expansion of its 50-year history. The organization works to help stabilize young people facing homelessness by providing safe shelter, food and clothing, and medical and mental health care. It serves youth in 34 cities across six countries in North and Central America, providing shelter to more than 2,000 youth every night. It also provides specialized programming for parenting youth and survivors of sex trafficking.
Ryan has held the job since 2009, when he was made the first lay president of the organization. Its founding president, Rev. Bruce Ritter, resigned in 1990 amidst accusations of sexual relations with a number of Covenant House boys. He was succeeded by two nuns, Sisters Mary Rose McGeady and Patricia Cruise.
In a statement announcing his retirement, Ryan praised the “unconditional love and absolute respect for humanity” embodied by Covenant House staff and supporters.
“Leading Covenant House has been the privilege and passion of my life,” he stated. As Covenant House marks our 50th anniversary and I look back over the past three decades, I know it is time for the next generation to lead.” Ryan joined the organization in 1992 as a fellow providing legal aid to New York CIty youth.
Under Ryan’s leadership, Covenant House launched a “Sleep Out” campaign to spread awareness about youth homelessness. The project activated thousands of participants in dozens of countries to spend one night sleeping outdoors in solidarity with the millions of young people who experience homelessness every year. The organization’s international budget more than doubled under Ryan, and has tripled its stock of housing and residential centers for youth.
“Kevin lives and embodies Covenant House’s mission,” said Tom McGee, Covenant House’s Chairperson in a press release. “We thank him for his transformational and inspirational leadership. We are inspired by Kevin and are sincerely grateful for his dedication and devotion to Covenant House.”
In the early 2000s, Ryan temporarily stepped away from his work at the Covenant House and served in the Office of the Child Advocate for New Jersey. In that role, he revealed that hundreds of youth were being inappropriately incarcerated in the state’s juvenile detention facilities and denied necessary mental health care. He also exposed deep cracks in the state’s child welfare system, and was subsequently appointed as commissioner and tasked with reforming the problematic system. During his watch, the agency increased the number of adoptions and licensed foster parents, improved caseworker training and decreased their caseloads, and expanded access to community-based mental health care, resulting in a decrease in the use of out-of-state residential treatment programs.
Tapped to take Ryan’s place is longtime California child welfare professional Bill Bedrossian. Bedrossian has run the California chapter of Covenant House for 8 years, during which time the organization’s work in the state has quadrupled. The incoming CEO previously spent 13 years working for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and spent time in the 1990s doing street outreach, residential care and therapy in Chicago.