Legacy of Hope – Honoring Kevin Gay’s 23 Years of Leadership

On the evening of June 25, 2022, Operation New Hope staff, former clients, donors, employment partners, and community stakeholders gathered at The Jessie Ball duPont Center to honor the impact that Kevin Gay has made on our community.  Guests were greeted with a signature drink from our good friends at Bacardi and Camp Craft Cocktail and dined on delicious food from Taqueria Cinco. After exploring the impact of hope and taking photos with friends, guests gathered in the great hall to celebrate Kevin and his Legacy of Hope with gifts and this tribute video

Kevin founded Operation New Hope in 1999 and has led the organization as CEO since. Under his 23 years of stewardship, Operation New Hope has helped more than 10,000 individuals impacted by the criminal justice system successfully reconnect to the workforce, their families, and their communities.

Kevin’s special gift to see through the layers of poverty, mass incarceration, and broken communities has allowed the organization to develop training and support solutions that address these critical issues. In doing so, Kevin has put Jacksonville on the national stage for leading the movement in reentry and criminal justice reform. His impact is evident in the transformation stories of clients, enhanced hiring practices for employers, healthier communities and families, and increased public safety.

What is so special about what Kevin Gay has built at Operation New Hope is that our work touches everyone in our community and provides a significant ROI and SROI.

  • One in three American adults has a criminal record which leads to an alarming rate of joblessness.
  • Operation New Hope’s programs reduce poverty, homelessness, and mental health struggles by providing comprehensive, wrap-around support and job training to people impacted by the criminal justice system. Additionally, our programs help meet local workforce demands and improve our economy by lowering unemployment. We challenge stigmas and promote hiring practices that help meet diversity, equity, and inclusion goals of our employment partners.

Operation New Hope’s President Reggie Fullwood will take over as CEO when Kevin retires on June 30, 2022, and he will manage the day-to-day operations of the organization and its programs. Reggie has been an essential part of the team for over 3 years and previously served as the organization’s Chief Operations Officer and Program Director. Reggie also served in various leadership roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors, working at companies like Vestcor and AT&T and serving on Jacksonville’s City Council and the Florida Legislature. 

As we commemorate the legacy of Kevin Gay, we are filled with hope for the future of the organization. Building upon the stable foundation established over the past two decades, equipped with strong leadership and a mission-driven strategic plan, we are prepared for impactful expansion. It is our great hope that the community will continue to support the important work that Kevin has begun. 

At the end of the evening’s ceremony, Kevin surprised guests by presenting a check for $1M to the Operation New Hope Legacy Endowment. This community investment in Operation New Hope will allow us to leverage even more government funding, exemplifying what can be achieved by Public/Private Partnerships. Thank you to all of our generous donors who gave in support of this amazing endowment and all who donated in-kind to make the Legacy of Hope event an night to remember!

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