Dr. Saralyn Grass currently serves as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Kids Hope Alliance (KHA), a funding agent for the City of Jacksonville that annually invests millions in children and youth programming and services in Duval County, FL. In this role, she is responsible for facilitating KHA’s operations in accordance City Charter and all state & federal laws, including the planning, development, implementation, and delivery of an annual $40 million RFP program for area nonprofits. Saralyn’s passion lies in supporting nonprofits so they can do the important work of serving our most vulnerable children. She has worked hard to create efficiencies within the governmental system so that service providers can spend more time serving children and youth – and making a lasting difference in Jacksonville’s future for generations to come.
Dr. Grass has been with KHA since 2019 and has over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and ten of those as an executive. In addition to her three years at KHA, her extensive experience includes Executive Director of the Association for Early Learning Coalitions, Vice President and Chief Programs Officer at the Children’s Forum, and an adjunct faculty member at both Florida State University and University of North Florida. Dr. Grass also launched and owned/operated a small business with her husband in Tallahassee from 2014-2019: GrassLands Brewing Company, a community-centric craft brewery that was awarded the Entrepreneurial Startup Business of the Year award by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband sold the business after five years and relocated to Jacksonville to be closer to family.
Dr. Grass has served on numerous boards and committees including the Women’s Giving Alliance as its Advocacy Committee Chair, the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council as a Planning Committee Member, The River Club as a Board Member, the Northwest Regional Council for Leadership Florida as its Fundraising Chair, the River Club, and the Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association as its Regional Vice President. She also served as a board member for The Children’s Campaign, Keep Tallahassee Beautiful, and the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. Dr. Grass was also appointed as commissioner to the Tallahassee/Leon County City Commission on the Status of Women & Girls and the Tallahassee Minority Women and Small Business Commission, as well as serving as a council member for the Leon County School Board’s District Advisory Council.
She has also received numerous awards and recognition for her efforts within the community and nonprofit arena. Dr. Grass received a Trailblazer Award from the College of Education and Florida State University, was selected as a member of Leadership Florida’s Education Class Four and Connect Class Eight, recognized as one of the “25 Women to Know” in Tallahassee in 2017 and the winner of a Pinnacle Award from 850 Business Magazine, honoring women that are a moving force in the business world and their communities, in 2016. She also volunteers as a Guardian ad Litem and is an adoptive mom – her proudest achievement.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida, a Master of Science degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech with a concentration on special needs across child and adolescent development and community agencies, and her Doctorate in Educational Policy and Program Evaluation from the College of Education at Florida State University. While at FSU, she earned two graduate certificates – one in Global Pathways from the Center for Global Engagement and another in Emergency Management and Homeland Security from the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at FSU.
Dr. Grass has been happily married to Gabe Grass, Director for Corporate Relations and Major Gifts at UNF, for the past 18 years. They have one daughter (Cheyanne), three cats (CiCi, Delilah and Saké)and one dog (Pearl).