We are thrilled to welcome the newest team member at our national office, Addie Hartnett! You may remember them as a Regional Coach for CUSA’s Southern Region, a role in which they have supported and coached Circles chapter staff in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina since 2020. 

Addie’s journey with Circles began even earlier, in 2013, when they partnered with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando to start a Circles chapter in their community. The Circles Central Florida chapter has since expanded to include two locations: Circles West Orange and Circles Orlando, where Addie continues to lead.

In their new position as National Coach, Addie will play a pivotal role in supporting our 80+ chapters across the nation as they implement the Circles model, as well as leading and assisting the Regional Coaches who serve our chapter staff.

Get to know Addie in this Q&A, in which they share more about their personal story and hopes for Circles.

Welcome, Addie! Could you recap what brought you to Circles USA?

From a young age, I was curious about all the various kinds of people around me. Even as a high-schooler, I would make frequent trips to visit a group of folks who lived in the woods behind the mall in my hometown. As I studied social work in college, a natural fit for my curious and compassionate nature, I quickly realized there was something missing from this field. We learned to keep things professional and maintain a healthy set of boundaries. And, while I’m not trying to deny the value of healthy boundaries, these lessons felt to me like denying folks in need of a key resource: care—genuine, authentic, and supportive human connection. So, when I stumbled onto the lead organization for Circles Central Florida, St. Luke’s UMC of Orlando, I knew I had found the missing ingredient.

What are you most looking forward to in your National Coach role?

As our new National Coach, I’m really excited to work across such a diverse network of people! This is an opportunity to connect more deeply with all the remarkable work being done across the nation within our fabulous Circles chapters. I’ve had about 10 years of experience with Circles and still have so much to learn. Each Circles practitioner has their own set of tricks and innovations that I’m so excited to learn about and then help develop and share across the network!

How does the Circles model of poverty alleviation speak to you, your values, and your experiences with “surviving” & “thriving” in the U.S.?

The Circles model is the only of its kind that understands that true, sustainable change only comes when the issue of poverty is addressed at all levels: individual and family, community, and systems. The most basic issue that we have to address is isolation. In isolation, the best we can do is survive, not only because it’s difficult to do everything on your own, but this isolation only perpetuates stereotypes and generalizations that create policies and programs that don’t work. Whether that’s in government or in the local food bank. It’s true among any group experiencing oppression. This work of poverty reduction is so crucial to me as a queer person because when we break down the root of any form of oppression, we inherently address all forms of oppression. We the people: Black, indigenous, queer, poor, woman, disabled, immigrant, only can gain from working alongside each other to support each other’s success. Circles gets it; when we work together, we can all thrive.

Will you share some fun facts about where you come from, who is in your community, and what you love to do?

Raised in Merritt Island, Florida, the bioluminescence capital of the world! I have five sisters, a really close cousin who is like a sister, and 12 niblings (gender-neutral for nieces and nephews). I’m a sperm donor to a couple of little lovely children who call me Donut! We have a cute little open [adoptive] relationship similar to my connection with my niblings. I’ve sung Tenor with the Orlando Gay Chorus since 2018 and spend a lot of my free time dancing with friends and doing political activism in and around Orlando. I love meditating, practicing yoga, and doing CrossFit.

Contact National Coach Addie Hartnett at Addie@CirclesUSA.org.