John Adams - President, Co-Founder

John Adams is a well-known and successful advocate for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. He utilizes his knowledge of addiction, mental illness, social services, the streets, and poverty to advocate for those displaced by society. John's commitment to his community is unwavering.


John's passion for helping others begin in the late '90s while volunteering at Allied Dunn Marsh Community Center and Vera Court Community Center, two of the most challenging neighborhoods in Madison, Wisconsin at the time. However, John's dedication to his community dates back further than volunteerism. John is a product of similar communities in Chicago, IL, and Madison, WI, where he has seen the devastation of drugs, addiction, poverty, and homelessness. These early encounters exposed John to his true calling of helping impoverished communities. John knew that to become a voice for his community, he would need to expand his knowledge of social services through formal education. He is a graduate of Madison Area Technical College with a degree in Liberal Arts, and he has a bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) from UW-Stout.


John has worked as an overnight awake staff and substance abuse counselor at Hope Haven inpatient treatment facility, a Catholic Charities program. Later, John transitioned from Hope Haven to Bethel Lutheran Church’s Homeless Ministry. When he arrived, he quickly noticed and analyzed deficiencies within the program. John strategically formulated a plan to reduce police calls, community complaints, and behavioral issues. John developed behavioral expectations and suspension policies. Within three months, he significantly reduced police calls, drug, and alcohol use on the property and created a neighborhood and community outreach program.


John was the program director of The Beacon Day Resource Center from 2018 to 2021. He ran the day-to-day operations, created, and implemented policies. When John took over, The Beacon was a program in peril and on the brink of failure. He built sustainable policies and services by using the many community connections he had made over the years. John used his life experiences to help him relate, understand, and advocate for people often misunderstood and struggling with life challenges. John left The Beacon, a stable and self-sustaining program. John's core beliefs of community and family continue to fuel the success of The Beacon. John's journey from Bethel Lutheran Homeless Ministry and The Beacon ultimately led him to co-found Catalyst for Change Inc. in 2019.


CFC is a grassroots organization rooted in out-of-the-box thinking and unorthodox solutions to homelessness and community issues. CFC examines the intersectionality of the community, businesses, and the criminal justice system, and how they impact folks who are socially displaced and housing insecure. John's primary focus at CFC is to analyze data and talk about the problems facing the population he serves daily.


John has volunteered and worked for 20 years, helping individuals in poverty, battling addiction, and experiencing homelessness. He successfully turned around two organizations by implementing structural changes necessary for sustainability and is the co-founder of CFC. John can work effectively with anyone; he has a positive attitude and enjoys collaborating to tackle tough societal challenges. John is a forward-thinker who is deeply passionate about creating sustainable solutions. His community commitment is undisputed, and his journey out of poverty has had an unmistakable impression on his life.


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