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Breakthrough ESS appoints new CEO

From Breakthrough news release and interview with Chad Senuta

Breakthrough Episcopal Social Services has appointed The Rev. Andy Houltberg to serve as its new CEO. He succeeds Dr. Barbara Andres, who served the Wichita community for 35 years, and he began his new role on March 14, 2022.

The Rev. Andy Houltberg, new CEO of Breakthrough

Rev. Houltberg comes to the agency from his position as Executive Director with Ashby House in Salina, KS, an organization offering a sober-living environment for women and families. While serving in that role, Houltberg was instrumental in developing a new strategic plan for the organization, stabilizing operations and building new partnerships with key community service organizations. “As a human services organization, we’ve experienced the economic stressors that everyone has, and we’re ready to move forward with the work that helps people recover and thrive in our community. Andy will enhance our collaborations within the state and be an outstanding champion for those we serve,” said Breakthrough Board President, Mark Dennett.

In 2021, Rev. Houltberg was ordained in the Episcopal Church. Prior to that, he pastored the members of Emmanuel Foursquare Church in Salina, KS, and was Field Director for Kansas City’s Prison Fellowship. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry in May 2000 and completed his Anglican Studies at Bishop Kemper School of Ministry in 2021. He has also been trained in trauma-informed spiritual care.

When asked about his new role, Rev. Houltberg said, “I am honored to be a part of Breakthrough Episcopal Social Service; it is an incredible organization with a mission that speaks deeply to my sense of vocation. I am looking forward to working alongside the compassionate and caring Breakthrough staff and parish volunteers. I believe we can find new ways of deepening relationships within the community of Wichita and the Diocese of Kansas to provide hope and healing to those suffering from poverty and mental illness as we seek and serve Christ in all persons.”

Rev. Houltberg shared several programs that Breakthrough hopes to expand in the coming years, noting the Breakthrough Clubhouse particularly. The clubhouse model is both a place and a strategy for providing a comprehensive, dynamic program for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses. The clubhouse model seeks to demonstrate that people with mental illness can successfully live productive lives and work in the community, regardless of the nature or severity of their mental illness. The program is built upon “members” (as opposed to patients or clients) who are actively focused on their own strengths and abilities, not their illness.    

Breakthrough ESS was founded in the early 1980s by an Episcopal nationwide fundraising drive for outreach, with each diocese receiving a portion of the money raised. The Diocese of Kansas used the funds to establish Venture House, which evolved through the years to become Breakthrough Episcopal Social Services.

Breakthrough ESS is an agency meeting the changing needs of the homeless, unemployed, under-employed, and those with mental illness. The agency exists to support and raise awareness about the experience of living with severe and persistent mental illness and to help end the cycle of poverty for those who seek out its services.

Learn more about Breakthrough ESS

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