Lee Alumna named CCCU Young Alumni award winner


Kelsi Deel Franco, a 2013 graduate of Lee University and Founder / Executive Director of the House of Cherith in Atlanta, has been named the 2022 CCCU Young Alumni Award recipient by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

This award will be presented as part of the CCCU 2022 International Forum from February 11 to 13. Leaders from Lee University will attend the Forum alongside Ms. Deel Franco as she receives the award.

“Lee takes seriously his mission of preparing students for responsible Christian living in a complex world,” said Lee President Dr. Mark Walker. “Kelsi’s character and professional work embodies our mission in every way. She is a model of scholarship, service and Christian vocation. We are very proud of her.

At the age of 13, Ms. Deel Franco met a survivor of sex trafficking and was ignited with a passion for the cause. Her heart for Christ and for the marginalized was cultivated in a large family of city pastors and founders of associations. During her undergraduate career at Lee University, she majored in Spanish with a minor in religion, where she equipped herself with tools and resources to create support services designed for survivors of trafficking in human beings. She also had the opportunity to return to Lee after graduation to speak in a chapel service in 2019.

According to Ms. Deel Franco, Lee represented the moment in her life that fueled her love for Jesus, fueled her passion for the struggle for freedom, and enabled her to “not only dream big, but also do great things.”

“The scourge of human trafficking has plagued our city, our nation and the world for far too long,” she said. “But where there is darkness, there is immense opportunity for light. Lee has been instrumental in equipping me to be resilient in this fight despite the countless tears I have shed for this population, to use my voice for those who have had theirs silenced for too long, and to change the world by shining the light for one woman, one child, one survivor at a time.

In 2014, Ms. Deel Franco founded the House of Cherith, a trauma-informed residential recovery program providing a safe place for adult women survivors of sexual trafficking and exploitation. Women at the facility receive a variety of services including medical, dental and mental care, addiction counseling and recovery, case management, life skills, cognitive behavioral therapy and financial literacy .

“We are extremely proud of Kelsi and her commitment to service after graduation,” said Dr. Paul Conn, Chancellor of Lee University. “She’s a second-generation Lee graduate whose whole family has shaped that kind of lifestyle. The CCCU could not honor a more deserving alum.

Since graduating from Lee, Ms. Deel Franco has completed a Masters in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Nonprofit Management, Mental Health First Aid, Certification in Proxy Trauma, and Suicide Intervention. Northcentral University in La Jolla, California. She is a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and holds certifications in a variety of specialties including trauma-informed care, crisis de-escalation, and mental health first aid.

Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Business Administration with a specialization in Nonprofit Management from Northcentral University.

The CCCU Young Alumni Award is presented to those who have achieved outstanding leadership or success in a way that reflects the values ​​of Christian higher education. These values ​​include the integration of biblical truth not only in the spiritual aspects of life, but in all areas; illustrating a moral commitment to living Christian virtues such as love, courage and humility; and use gifts, talents and opportunities to make a difference for the common good, whether in their local communities or on a larger national and international scale.

“Through her commitment to be a light in the darkness, Kelsi Deel Franco embodies a significant and timely example of the words of the Old Testament prophet calling us to ‘act righteously and love mercy and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6 : 8), ”said CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra. “She approaches suffering in a concrete way and seeks redemption. We are honored to present her with this award because she immediately stood out to us as a person who showed initiative and courage to face a deep crisis and extend the love of Jesus in such a way. tangible and holistic.

For more information on the House of Cherith, visit hocatl.org.

For more information about Lee University, visit leeuniversity.edu.

For more information on CCCU, visit cccu.org/.


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