The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center has announced a change in executive leadership. Longtime Executive Director Marilyn Warren has retired and Portsmouth resident Heather Hole Strout has succeeded her as the Center’s new Executive Director.

On Monday, Dec. 3, The MLK’s Board of Trustees accepted Warren’s retirement with sadness and gratitude and unanimously voted to name Hole Strout the new Executive Director. Hole Strout assumes the role immediately.

“This transition in executive leadership is the culmination of three years of succession planning. It’s very hard to imagine the MLK without Marilyn. Her visionary leadership expanded the mission of the Center. We are thrilled Heather has accepted the executive role and know that the MLK will continue to grow under her leadership,” stated Rose M. Hyder, president of the Board of Trustees.

Marilyn Warren was elected the Center’s Interim Executive Director in October 2010 and became the Center’s Executive Director in January 2011. “Leading the MLK has been the most humbling and gratifying experience of my life,” stated Warren.  “It has been my utmost privilege to lead a staff that never loses sight of our mission.”

Warren added “We’ve been planning for my retirement for years now. I’m leaving a bit sooner than expected to care for my husband but I am completely confident in passing the reins on to Heather. From the moment she began working at the MLK, I knew she was the right person to lead the Center into its second century.”

Reflecting on her tenure as the Center’s helm, Warren noted, “My life is richer by getting to know so many wonderful people who make up the fabric of the MLK community- those coming for help, our committed volunteers and Board, leaders and front-line staff of partnering non-profits, thoughtful and generous funders and donors, and civic leaders.  I have grown in so many ways and formed long-lasting relationships for which I will always be grateful.”

Hole Strout joined the MLK’s Board in June, 2015, serving on the Institutional Advancement committee. After a twenty year teaching career at Cluny and Pennfield Schools, Hole Strout was named the Center’s Assistant Executive Director in June 2016. She was named the 2017 Emerging Leader in conjunction with the Center’s Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder award. As an Emerging Leader, Hole Strout participated in two weeks of leadership development with nonprofit leaders from across the country.

“I have deep, lifelong roots in this community”, said Hole Strout of her new role. “Marilyn has been an incredible mentor to me these past two years. I’m both excited and humbled to build on her legacy of fighting hunger, promoting health, educating kids and supporting families and seniors in Newport County. As I embark on this tremendous opportunity, I envision the Center becoming a nonprofit that not only helps people with resources and education, but also empowers our clients to push past barriers and out of poverty towards greater independence.”

Warren will consult on special projects for the Center, including the new Mobile Food Pantry and the Center’s Centennial Celebration in 2022. A farewell celebration honoring Warren’s years of service will be announced in the coming months.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure this is a seamless transition”, said Hyder. “Our clients, funders, donors, and volunteers can be confident that the Center’s Hunger Services, Education and Community programs haven’t skipped a beat. The board and I encourage anyone who needs help or who wants to learn more about our programs to reach out to Heather and her staff.”

Founded in 1922 and renamed after Dr. King in 1968, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center is a multi-service provider for at-risk and underserved individuals, families and children in Newport County, Rhode Island, providing services to 3,275 people in 2017.

For more information, visit or call 401-846-4828.

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