Executive Sleeper Spotlight: Kurt Nondorf
Just over a decade ago, Kurt Nondorf took part in his first-ever Sleep Out, joining dozens of other Houston business leaders to spend the night under the stars to make a difference in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness. On that night, Kurt, a partner at Jackson Walker LLP, was so moved by the stories shared from the hearts and experiences of Covenant House Texas residents that he knew he would continue to Sleep Out for years to come.
Now in his 11th year of Sleeping Out, Kurt passionately advocates for a reality where all young people can have a safe place to sleep and the support they need to create a future where they can live independent, fulfilling lives. On November 17, 2022, he will play a special role in our Sleep Out: Executive Edition as he leads our beloved candlelight vigil to kick off the evening.
As a seasoned supporter of Sleep Out, we talked to Kurt for our October issue of The Homefront to hear why he makes this commitment to our youth year after year, and his advice for new Sleepers to get the most out of the experience.
Kurt believes that the impact he makes in one night for our youth is as equally impactful for him, and other Sleepers. He advises new Sleepers to soak up every moment of the humbling experience, from speaking directly with the youth to connecting with those you meet during street outreach to appreciating the shared experience of the good work done with fellow Sleepers on Friday morning.
“We all have an idea of the person one might expect to find at shelter for those experiencing homelessness, and it’s usually completely wrong,” said Kurt. “I’ve met many intelligent, articulate young people with diverse, important stories to tell about how they came to stay at Covenant House Texas. The most crucial thing to learn is, in the wrong circumstances, homelessness can happen to just about anyone.”
For Kurt, the most memorable part is almost always the work done before they rest for the night. During street outreach, many participants see sights unseen before in their city as well as new sides of their associates.
“My most vivid memory is when I invited a friend to Sleep Out and he seemed uncomfortable when we first left in the vans to do street outreach,” said Kurt. “When we stopped at the library downtown to hand out food, I saw the same person rush past me to kneel and pray with one of the people on the street. I felt such joy for my colleague who realized he could not only help feed this person tonight but also feed them spiritually. It was a great inspiration to me.”
While each Sleeper’s experience can be different, when groggy professionals leave the warmth of their sleeping bag and congregate beneath the early morning sun, the common experience is the inspiration found in taking direct action to end youth homelessness.
Kurt leaves each Sleep Out: Executive Edition feeling inspired to uplift the Covenant House Texas mission, but he has also served as inspiration for many along the way.
“I am blessed to know incredible friends and colleagues who have been willing to humor me for a night and participate in Sleep Out,” said Kurt. “I am very proud that the managing partner of our firm, Wade Cooper, came from Austin, Texas, last year to join me. This year, our Houston Managing Partner Priya Coffey will also be Sleeping Out.”
Kurt would like to extend special thanks to this year’s Sleep Out: Executive Edition Chairman Sean Maher, Honorary Chair Tim Coogan and his fellow members of the Covenant House Texas board, under the leadership of Mike Holland, for their overwhelming commitment and love for the residents of Covenant House Texas.
“We are all grateful for the opportunity to do our part. The kids’ commitment to overcoming the challenges facing them and the sacrificial giving from our supporters are the two things that have kept me committed to showing up,” said Kurt. “My life is easy in comparison to the journey these young residents take on each day.”