*Nekima Horton-President & CEO
Nekima L. Horton is a game changer. Horton, the Founder and current President and CEO of the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas, the largest of such an organization helping veterans in the state of Texas, believes helping veterans is her calling. “My passion is seeing the many men and women who has served this country succeed,” she says.
Nekima has a proven track record in assessing, designing, developing, implementation of programs, and organizational development. She started her career in the school system in the state of Louisiana, working with elementary, middle and high school students, identified as at risk. She then transferred to the largest charity hospital in Monroe Louisiana. Working in the Social Services Department of the hospital, Nekima was thrust into the after math of Hurricane Katrina. She also worked part time at a geriatrics clinic. Leading group sessions with seniors was the most memorable education she had received, as well as a highlight of her career. While she enjoyed her work, she knew she wanted to have more of a voice in program development.
It was her work in tobacco cessation that brought Nekima to Texas. Prior to coming to Texas, Nekima was the North Regional Director for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco free living. Adding tobacco cessation to her focus on building healthy communities was a welcome addition to her work. In 2009, she was hired by University of Texas at Arlington to make the campus tobacco free. She enjoyed her work but still felt like she had more to develop and give. As the campus moved forward with her recommendations, becoming smoke free in 2011, she went back to her passion of direct community service. “I just felt like something was missing,” she said.
It was at this time she added service to Veterans and their families to her portfolio. As Director of the Operation Healthy Reunions program at Mental Health America, Nekima focused on the mental health state of returning Veterans. It was here she built the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas. Within five years, she and a dedicated Board of Directors, Coalition members, and community partners built the largest, most comprehensive, Veterans Coalition in the State of Texas. Garnering over 75+ organizations, on a monthly basis, to discuss best practice and service to those that have served, their families, and Veteran Service Organizations, they consider themselves the “Gap filler.” Her goal as the President and CEO is to grow the organization into a State and National model. She attributes the success of the Coalition to working in excellence, networking, collaboration, and most importantly staying focused on the mission and service before self!