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Our mission is to empower individuals and families develop skills to achieve and maintain independence through supportive services.

Our Story

Our work began in 1920 when Carrie Southwick Plumb donated her Emporia home in service to single women. Over the previous 100 years, thousands of women found safe refuge to build lives of stable, independent achievement. 

Today, Southwick House is transitioning to a new community home and looking to the next 100 years. Working closely with our agency partners, community volunteers, donors, and champions, our new space will be a broad-based shelter serving the homeless community with intensive case management supports. Assisting the most vulnerable among us in building solid foundations on which to thrive. 

Meet the Team

Executive Director

Susan Brinkman

A fifth generation Kansan, Susan was born in Kansas City, Kansas to working-class parents. She graduated from Johnson County Community College and moved to Emporia in 1990, completing a B.S. in Psychology; BFA in Photography; and an M.S. in Counseling at Emporia State University. 

Susan chose to call Emporia home after graduation working first in case management for the Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas and then as the director of the Plumb Place Home for Women. In 1999, Susan returned to her alma mater and served Emporia State University for 20 years in roles ranging from the Director of Admissions to instructor in Art and English, Modern Languages, and Journalism and for more than a decade as the assistant director in the Center for Great Plains Studies. In 2016, she opened a small business in downtown Emporia. She served on the city commission for several years, and became mayor of Emporia in 2023. She is proud to be returning to the role of director for Southwick House.

Susan Brinkman - Southwick House Director - Emporia KS - square

Board of Directors

Jeremy Dorsey - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Jeremy Dorsey

Board Chair

Bethany Frank - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Bethany Frank

Board Member

Nicole Freeland - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Nicole Freeland

Board Member

Jennifer Horst - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Jennifer Horst


Anthony Mercer - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Anthony Mercer

Vice Chair/Treasurer

Robyn Nienstedt-Whitaker - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Robyn Nienstedt-Whitaker

Board Member

Wendi Soendker - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Wendi Soendker

Board Member

Bobbie Sparks - Southwick House Board of Directors

Bobbie Sparks

Board Member

Chuck Torres- Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Chuck Torres

Board Chair

Deone Wilson - Southwick House Board of Directors - Emporia KS

Deone Wilson

Board Member

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Carol Steinel

Capital Campaign Liason

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Board Member

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Support Our Mission

Southwick House is a collaborative effort, and we can always use more help! Visit our Ways to Help page to learn more about donating, volunteering, or supporting our mission. 

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