Herston moving on from Circle of Care after eight years

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Jonathan Herston, Circle of Care’s executive director of the past eight years, is saying goodbye to the organization. Herston has taken a position as a professor at Southern Union State Community College, though he says he won’t be far away. 

“I’m excited about getting started,” he said.

Next fall, Herston will be found either on the Opelika campus or the Valley campus teaching psychology courses. This isn’t his first foray into the world of higher education. 

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After graduating from Valley High School and earning his degree, Herston had the opportunity to work as an adjunct professor at SUSCC many years ago. Though he enjoyed it, his role as executive director at Circle of Care began to take precedence.

Circle of Care, a local nonprofit organization, is guided by a mission to create pathways for local youth to success, education and resources. Its staff works to provide quality service to help empower the community and create systemic long-term change.

“Everyone should have access to quality resources and caring support that they need to thrive,” Herston said. 

“We’ve got really great people, new projects and great staff that are over those projects to help make sure they either continue moving in the right direction or get started up and continue filling in those resource gaps,” he added. 

Herston has played an integral part in Circle of Care’s growth over the past eight years. Under his leadership, the organization has started the Innovation Center, a work-based transportation service and has partnered with several other community organizations like Growth Academy and the Chambers County Development Authority. 

The Innovation Center, which began last year, is a space for encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurs and innovators who are facing resource gaps. The work-based transportation program is designed to support those who don’t have access to transportation to work. 

After many years serving Circle of Care, Herston said the timing of the opportunity has been perfect both for his family and his crew at the nonprofit. Circle of Care’s board of directors has a strong vision, Herston said, that he has faith will continue even after he steps down.

“Having a trustworthy staff that does great work … is invaluable. So they really deserve a lot more credit than I do. So that’s also part of the reason why I feel like I can leave with confidence — because I’m sure they’ll be just as great for whoever comes in behind me.”

Housing is another major resource gap that Herston said the staff have been working to address.

In the future, Herston said the staff hopes to open satellite locations in Lanett and LaFayette to reach even more of the community. 

Still, Herston has served the community in more ways than one over the years. He is also the pastor at Lanett First Methodist Church and will continue to serve there. He said he also plans to keep serving the community as opportunities arise. 

“I’m not going anywhere …,” Herston reassured. “Some good things are happening in the area that I’ve been asked to be a part of that’ll continue to make an impact.”

After many years, the Circle of Care has carved out a special place in Herston’s life and the lives of his family. 

“[Circle of Care] means a lot to our family, and always holds a dear place in the heart. So to be able to see the amazing things happening over the last eight years while being in that leadership role just really has been a blessing,” he said. 

“This is going to be one of those times that I think it will look back on and see as one of the highlights of my life, as the director of the Circle of Care,” he added.