GraceWorks Ministries

GraceWorks will be closed may 25-27

GraceWorks Ministries CEO Valencia A. Breckenridge Announces Retirement After Eight Years of Transformative Leadership

Community Invited to Celebrate Breckenridge’s Legacy at Open House Reception on June 27 and participate in Foundations for the Future Fund in her honor.

Valencia A. Breckenridge knew the moment she saw the job description for a GraceWorks CEO that it was the place for her.

“I remember saying to God this is my job,” Breckenridge said. “This is the job I’m supposed to be doing. The ministry of GraceWorks represents the desire of our community to care for one another. The very idea of let’s come together to help those who don’t have resonated with me.”

Hired in November 2016, Breckenridge officially retires June 30, and the occasion will be marked by a public open house reception from 3:30 to 7 p.m. June 27 at GraceWorks, 104 Southeast Parkway, Franklin.

The community is also invited to contribute to Breckenridge’s legacy Foundations for the Future fund, established in her honor. GraceWorks’ Board of Directors has authorized a designated fund specifically for preliminary expenses required for a new permanent GraceWorks facility. Examples of these preparations may include permit fees, architectural and engineering planning, land surveys and more.

In the intervening eight years, she has never changed her mind about her certainty about the job, and neither have GraceWorks staff, board members and volunteers.

“Valencia brought professionalism and direction to GraceWorks,” said Cathy Wilkes, previous assistant to Breckenridge, now Church Partner Coordinator.  “She is a believer in God and loves to share her Christian faith.  She has been an amazing mentor to me during her years at GraceWorks.  It’s hard for me to think that her passionate personality will not be roaming the GraceWorks halls in July.  I love her and will miss her wholeheartedly.”

Breckenridge grew up in the rough-and-tumble south side of Chicago, a place where she experienced poverty and occasional crime all around her. From there she learned toughness, grit and an encompassing empathy for the downtrodden.

“Having grown up as a kid on the free breakfast and lunch school programs, I know what it is to be in need,” Breckenridge said. “One strong belief I try to live by is that I am my brother’s keeper, and he is mine. The Neighbor serving mission of GraceWorks allows me to live that out.”

Somewhere along the way, she developed a large dose of silly, prompting her to wear a turkey suit while distributing Thanksgiving food baskets, dancing with the nearest person in celebration of triumphs big and small, and wearing an open spiral Santa hat at The Manger, GraceWorks’ annual Christmas gift-giving event.

Greg Perry, as Breckenridge’s executive assistant and the most-picked partner for her celebration dances, says he has been awed by her.

“I’ve never been around a more determined person to move and motivate staff, board and volunteers towards quality care for our Neighbors than Valencia A. Breckenridge,” Perry said. “Her hard work and determination in building an effective board, staff and community support has been awesome to watch.

“Her love for the Lord was always present as she took the lead in changing the culture of GraceWorks from top to bottom. Personally, Valencia has been the hardest, most enjoyable and fun boss/leader/mentor I have ever had. The foundation is strong for the next leader.”

Breckenridge has been adept at balancing the fun with hard work. She led GraceWorks through unprecedented growth. The budget was $2.3 million when she began as CEO. This year’s budget is $11.9 million. GraceWorks served 7,902 unduplicated Neighbors her first year. Last fiscal year, the number was 14,747 people.

Alicia Bell, Rising CEO is thankful to have Breckenridge as a mentor as she prepares to assume the position.

“I have witnessed the many reasons she was called to this post: her ever-gracious heart for the Neighbors GraceWorks serves, her sincere care for staff, her passionate efforts to build an excellent organization, and her fierce protection of the ministry are just a few!” said Bell, who will succeed Breckenridge as CEO July 1. “Plus, she is fun! Valencia is quick to joke, dance, hug, and pray with anyone.”

Bell, who has been director of development for the past seven years, has Breckenridge’s complete confidence in building on GraceWorks’ foundations.

“Alicia has shown her commitment and passion for this ministry,” Breckenridge said, “Under Alicia’s astute and strategic leadership, I fully expect to see GraceWorks going places I never could have envisioned!

As for her own future after such a busy work-filled life, Breckenridge says her plans are to not be busy at all.

“I am going to fully embrace retirement,” she said. “While I absolutely loved being the CEO of GraceWorks, I now plan to exercise at a decent hour of the day instead of 5:15 am, rest, catch up on reading and some TV shows, as well as visit with the people my husband and I love. And in addition, give our little doggies lots of extra attention!

“I am grateful to the board who hired me, for this current board, as well as this community who welcomed and supported me, and for the staff and volunteers who labored with me. We are all in this together working under the “Neighbor serving Neighbor” banner.

About GraceWorks Ministries:

GraceWorks Ministries, founded in 1995 and based in Franklin, Tennessee, is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving individuals and families in need through a variety of programs. Their mission, “Neighbor serving Neighbor, by the power of God’s grace,” is realized through services such as food assistance, shelter and utility support, clothing and goods distribution, and various support services. Partnering with over 75 local churches and numerous community organizations, GraceWorks has served nearly 15,000 Neighbors in Williamson County and Middle Tennessee. For more information, visit

Relevant Links:
Foundation for the Future Landing Page:

Farewell Reception Landing Page:

GraceWorks About Page:

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