Personality: Gregory D. Suskind

Spotlight on chair of CARITAS Board of Directors

2/15/2024, 6 p.m.
Richmond native Gregory D. Suskind has been involved with CARITAS for more than a decade. Since May 2022, he has ...

Richmond native Gregory D. Suskind has been involved with CARITAS for more than a decade. Since May 2022, he has been board chair of the non-profit organization that focuses on helping people experiencing homelessness and/or addiction by creating safe spaces for healing and recovery and providing support to help them rebuild and renew their lives.

“Almost everyone has been touched in some way by homelessness or substance abuse,” he wrote in a recent email explaining why the mission of CARITAS is so important to him.

The organization grew out of a program called “Winter Cots” in the early 1980s, which was started by Richmond area congregations. It was formalized as CARITAS in 1987 and has since grown to include more than providing emergency shelter in the winter months.

In addition to its long-term residential recovery program, CARITAS also offers a work-force development curriculum for adults with significant barriers to employment, the only furniture bank in Central Virginia for people coming out of a housing crisis, and sober living apartments for program graduates and qualifying community members.

He shared another reason why he has continued to expand his own involvement over the years — “the staff and other board members are fun and very engaged. It’s a positive and joyful place.”

Mr. Suskind said one his greatest joys is the program’s commencement activities. Participants graduating from the long-term residential recovery program for men and women offered through the Healing Place have worked hard to overcome obstacles, but they are not the only ones leaving with lessons from the experience.

He said he tries to bring to CARITAS all the things taught to him by his parents and other mentors — self-reliance, generosity and the need for second chances — but he continues to learn new lessons as well.

“They have continued to teach me this lesson beyond anything I’ve brought. One lesson is the power of peer mentorship,” Mr. Suskind said.

“Having people help you that have been where you are, understand the situation and are really committed to helping you is a very effective method for healing. Giving people the room to make mistakes and grow is equally important.”

That is why he believes awareness is one of the biggest issues for CARITAS.

“Many people in the Richmond area have heard of CARITAS and may know a little about us,” Mr. Suskind believes. “What seems to be missing is just a little deeper understanding of who we are and the services we offer. It’s important information because it could really help people.”

He adds that the organization is working to increase their relationships with local business with volunteer events and opportunities to engage with the community at CARITAS.

Since late 2020, most of their programming operates out of one central facility and that is also allowing the nonprofit to reactivate and reimagine its relationships with the area’s that traditionally supported its mobile shelters.

“I think that there’s great hope in what we do within a broad environment of homelessness and substance abuse that often seems to embody hopelessness,” Mr. Suskind said. “While not every story has a happy ending, many do.”

Meet Gregory D. Suskind, a leader who helps create safe spaces for people seeking healing and recovery in their lives and this week’s Personality:

Occupation: Managing director — USM Investment Management.

Date and place of birth: 1971 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, Hampden-Sydney College; MBA – Robins School of Business - University of Richmond.

Family: Wife, Dorothy Suskind, sons, Mac Suskind and Charlie Suskind.

CARITAS is: CARITAS creates a safe space to heal and time to rebuild.

When and why founded: CARITAS was founded in 1987 in response to the need for emergency shelter during the winter months. The organization has evolved from a mobile emergency shelter system to a solution-oriented homeless services and substance use disorder recovery community. Leading with compassion, CARITAS meets the needs of the people it serves by filling gaps in Richmond’s homelessness and addiction recovery systems. Its quality staff provide round-the-clock care to the men and women in its safeguard.

Founders: Area congregations in Richmond.

Location: 2220 Stockton St.

How CARITAS works in a nutshell: For people experiencing homelessness and/or addiction, CARITAS is Richmond’s active community of caring that provides them a safe space for healing and recovery — and the support to rebuild and renew their lives.

CARITAS is funded: CARITAS receives meaningful support across a spectrum of contributors, including individuals, businesses, civic organizations, foundations, and government agencies.

How I became involved: Many years ago when volunteering at St. James’s Church in Richmond when a service model revolving around congregations was still in use by CARITAS.

Length of term: Two years.

No. 1 challenge so far: The most pressing issue for us at the time my term started was finding a new leader. Our current CEO at the time had been at CARITAS for 22 years and was retiring. It was a blessing to have her there for that long, but also quite challenging to find someone that could fill her shoes. It took a full year but our search ended with the appointment of Karen O’Brien, a longtime employee and the former COO. She’s extremely well respected internally and in the community and is a talented and caring executive. We’re grateful to have her.

Strategy for achieving goals: CARITAS has a number of. objectives that include fundraising, public awareness, community engagement and day to day management among many other things. Collaboration has been the most effective strategy for me. We have a large and talented board and a very committed staff. By asking for input and sharing the workload we get better outcomes.

No. 1 joy I have witnessed working with CARITAS: Commencement from the Healing Place for both men and women is really magical. The participants in the program have worked really hard over a long period to overcome significant obstacles and you see the pride and gratitude they have on full display during this graduation ceremony.

How the board measures its commitment to having a diverse and inclusive organization: The Board has demonstrated its commitment to diversity and inclusion by adopting a strategic plan that prioritizes DEAI in all aspects of work, collaboration, leadership and mission delivery. We have also undertaken a concerted effort to compensate staff equitably across the organization.

CARITAS is important for all people from various backgrounds and their families because: CARITAS was founded on the value that every person deserves to live with dignity and respect. We actively promote a more equitable and inclusive community by leading with compassion, integrity and determination.

Ways to get involved with CARITAS as a volunteer or someone in need of services: Individuals in need of shelter should call the Homeless Connection Line at (804) 972-0813. Individuals in need of recovery services should call The Healing Place for Men at (804) 230-1184 or The Healing Place for Women at (804) 418-3049. Volunteer opportunities are available at


There also is a need for donations of gently used furniture and household goods for the CARITAS Furniture Bank. Furniture can be dropped off at 2220 Stockton St. between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, or schedule a pickup by calling (804) 887-1592.

CARITAS partners with: CARITAS has established long-standing partnerships with numerous community organizations such as The Daily Planet, VCU Health Systems, Virginia Health Department and Bon Secours among others. A large number of congregations, corporations and individuals provide countless hours of volunteer support and represent indispensable partnerships.

How I start the day: Usually I’m at the gym at 5 a.m. and then head home for coffee. It’s getting harder and harder to wake up that early though.

The three words that best describe me: Disciplined, persistent, friendly.

If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: I would play around on the guitar with my sons.

Best late-night snack: Fruity Pebbles cereal or fully salted Planters peanuts.

The music I listen to most is: Country music, but I sometimes listen to big band jazz like Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Scuba dive and run the vacuum.

A quote that inspires me: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” — Thomas Jefferson

At the top of my “to-do” list: Getting some much-delayed work done to my very old pickup truck.

The best thing my parents ever taught me: My parents, Sandy and David Suskind, taught me you have to take responsibility for yourself. There were high expectations for me at an early age and those expectations only grew. I’m sure I didn’t like it much at the time, but the resulting self-sufficiency has proven very valuable over the years.

The person who influenced me the most: Probably Ivor Massey, Jr. He gave me opportunities that he didn’t need to give me and taught me a lot about being generous, giving second chances and blazing your own trail.

Book that influenced me the most: Recently “The Son” by Philipp Meyer. I love westerns. It’s fiction, but it is a great story about learning to adapt to hardship, resilience and determination and families.

What I’m reading now: Professionally, “Wealth 3.0: The Future of Family Wealth Advising” by James Grubman, Dennis Jaffe and Kristin Keffeler. The book is essentially about the changing landscape of family wealth advisory away from a primary focus on investments to a broader focus on the family, the importance of purpose and the role emotional intelligence plays.

Next goal: I’m not much of a cook, and I’d like to learn to be a better one.