You may have heard already that I will soon leave JFS to accept the position as the first woman to lead the United Way of Greater Cincinnati as CEO/President. I do this with extreme mixed emotions. While I am excited to lead an organization helping hundreds of thousands of children and families throughout our region, I will greatly miss this tremendous institution, the work we do, the people we serve and the people who help us.
This opportunity will allow me to continue my life’s work with children and families, but on a larger and regional platform. The United Way has an over 100+ year history of helping children, families and individuals reach financial stability, health and education. In this work, I will tap many different sectors, including the private sector. I view this as an opportunity to continue my advocacy for JFS and its great work.
I am proud of what this agency accomplished in my more than 12 years as director. We were a model for other JFS organizations across the state and even the nation. We were often asked to pilot new programs because there is faith that Hamilton County will get it right. We won more awards for innovation from the National Association of Counties than any other governmental organization in Ohio. We initiated creative programs, policy and practice that will affect lives for years to come.
Most importantly, we made a difference in our community. We helped hundreds of thousands, from the unemployed father to the struggling single mother to the abused child. We were their rock in troubled times.
I have been privileged to have a career devoted to children and families. As Marion Wright Edelman said, “I am doing what I was put on this earth to do. And, I’m grateful to have something I am passionate about and I think is profoundly important.”
I became the director right before the Great Recession. These were the most difficult years of my professional career, as our funding to run JFS was cut in half and we were forced to make difficult decisions to keep this agency solvent. But there was still a job to do and the community outside these walls was hurting too. They turned to us. We often had lobby lines that stretched out the door and around the building.
We answered the call. Even though we were hurting, we rose to the challenge. We helped three times the number of people we did before the recession and we did it with half the people. Many residents of this community survived because of our work. We helped make this community whole again.
I grew up in this agency. Almost 27 years ago, I came to the Department to start my career as a front line worker in Children’s Services. I have had the honor to work in just about every area of the agency over my 27 years. This is my passion. Ever since I became a “big sister” to a young teen more than 30 years ago, I wanted to be in a profession that changed lives.
I am fortunate to be leading an organization where I can still help families and children. Still, this is the most difficult decision I have ever made as a professional because I am leaving family. I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many great people over my 27 years.
JFS will always have a special place in my heart.