Kathleen Nelson, founder & executive director of Hands Across The Water since 1999 will be retiring November 30, 2016. Kathi has been instrumental in helping to create so many families throughout the past 17 years. Her belief that every child deserves a family was the driving force of the agency and her passion for creating families through adoption inspired so many of us. She will be missed!


A Heartfelt Goodbye from Kathi.....

Almost 18 years ago I co-founded Hands Across The Water with my husband Jim. HATW is my passion and the organization is very special to me. HATW has grown from a 2 person, 1 office, small non-profit into a multi-service, multi-department, over 32 employees organization. One I am very proud of and care deeply about.

Over the past few years I have had personal responsibilities which have precluded me from devoting to HATW the amount of time that was needed and that I wanted. Due to this, I have chosen to step down, retire, as the Executive Director of Hands Across The Water. This is difficult for me but I feel it is best for the agency.

At this time I would like to introduce the new Executive Director. The Board of Directors has worked diligently to find the right person who will continue providing the respected, ethical, multi-faceted programs and services as well as grow our agency to great heights. And I feel they have. Katherine (Katie) Page Sander will take my place as Executive Director. Katie comes to HATW with many years experience in the non-profit, child welfare arena in many capacities including working in child placing agencies. In fact, she worked at HATW as the Domestic Programs Supervisor for six years. She brings a wealth of knowledge to this agency which will help maintain our outstanding service and continued growth.

Although I will remain the official ED until 11/30/16, Katie has begun working with me as of 11/3/16 to begin this transition. I feel Katie will be able to take our agency to heights beyond what we have already seen to better serve our clients and all future clients. She has the same commitment to work with all people helping them begin, grow, and support their families through the many services we offer at Hands Across The Water. So, although there is a change in the person, there is no change in our values and focus of being an agency working with diverse, and non-traditional, families.

Thank you to all the families I, or this agency, have worked with over the past 17 plus years. I am very grateful to have had some small part in building your family. That was my goal for beginning HATW and I am glad to know there are so many children who now have a family who, at one time, did not. I will miss the families, staff, and all our contacts in Michigan, the US, and internationally.

Feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Katie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I hope you will join me in giving Katie a big, warm welcome!

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