Claas Ehlers is the President of Family Promise, the national nonprofit leader on the issue of family homelessness. Born in New York State, he lived in multiple household settings his first six years, impressing on him the critical need for stability for children and families. A graduate of New York University, Claas worked in video production, publishing, business development and advertising while also teaching English as an adjunct professor at two local community colleges. From his work with low-income students, he saw first-hand the struggle of families to change their economic circumstances.
In 2002, he was able to align his passion for social justice with his career, joining Family Promise to lead a project to diversify the faith groups involved in its programs. In 2003 he accepted the role of Director of Affiliate Development and later Affiliate Services, and in January of 2016 became the second president in the organization’s 28-year history. His primary goals are to implement new strategies to empower families, deepen and broaden existing services, and increase the participation of volunteers outside the faith community. Claas frequently presents on the issues of family homelessness and volunteer engagement.
Outside of work, Claas’s interests include running, hiking, the New York Mets, music, and cooking. He lives in Mountainside, NJ with his wife, Ellen Pluta, a professor at Stern School of Business at NYU and has three children: Arabella, Luke, and Colette. He is known around the Family Promise office for his ability to identify any US town of more than 10,000 people, pathological timeliness and indecipherable handwriting, which he blames on a vast right-handed conspiracy.