Honoree Headshot

Kim Despres

Chief Executive Officer
Circle the City

Location: Maricopa County, AZ
Founded: 2012
Industry: Healthcare

Kim Despres carries the memory of a 7-year-old’s smile with her every day. It serves as the inspiration for her work with Circle the City, a nonprofit providing healthcare to Maricopa County’s homeless.

Early in her career, Despres worked as a home nurse for pediatric patients. One of those patients was 7-year-old Jason, who had acquired AIDS from a blood transfusion. A community organization built Jason a surprise treehouse in his backyard.

“I watched him wheel up the ramp to the treehouse in his wheelchair, and the look in his eyes and the smile on his face was a defining moment for me,” said Despres, CEO of Circle the City. “Still today, I look for that smile in every employee, client, patient or person.”

Circle the City provides healthcare to men, women and children facing homelessness in Maricopa County. It meets people where they are, treating patients with dignity and respect and addressing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Last year, Circle in the City provided healthcare to more than 8,000 people in Maricopa County.

Circle the City is the vision of Sister Adele O’Sullivan, CSJ, MD. She worked as a physician providing medical care to people living on the street and recognized a gap in the healthcare system. She envisioned a place where these individuals could take respite and rest, heal and recover. In 2012, Circle the City opened the doors of the Midtown Medical Respite Center, the first of its kind in Arizona.

Despres joined the respite center as RN program manager in 2014. The respite center is a 50-bed facility where patients receive a bed, meals, daily medical evaluation, 24/7 nursing support, behavioral healthcare, care coordination and case management.

In 2018, Despres was named Respite Center director to oversee the construction of our second respite care center. Later that year, the Downtown Medical Respite Center opened on the Human Services Campus in the center of the highest concentration of people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County.

Under Despres’ leadership, two new Circle the City outpatient clinics opened where people facing homelessness could receive primary and preventive healthcare services. Despres left the nonprofit in 2019 to do consulting work and teach at Grand Canyon University. In 2021, Circle the City asked Despres to step in as interim CEO, a role that eventually became permanent.

Despres has been a registered nurse for 38 years and has a doctorate in healthcare administration.

“I welcome the opportunity to make bold changes, advocate, and lead Circle the City to be an example for the rest of our country to follow,” she said.

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Honoree Fun fact

A fun fact about myself is that I have my personal training certification and teach group fitness on the side. One day I made the decision to commit to a regular exercise program and a healthy diet. In time, I lost 70 pounds and even got my exercise training certification.

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