Newsmakers September 2011

Print More

Nonprofits

The Girl Scouts of the USA selected one of its own to succeed Kathy Cloninger as its chief executive officer.

Anna Maria Chávez, who has led the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas in San Antonio since 2009, will become the 19th leader of the national scouting organization in November, which will mark the beginning of the organization’s 100th anniversary celebration.

November also will mark the beginning of a major five-year fundraising campaign, which appears to be crucial for the financial health of one of the most iconic organizations in youth work. The Girl Scouts hold considerable assets ($112 million as of its 2010 annual report), but has had to use them to cover operating deficits. The organization operated at a $7.7 million loss in 2009 and a $4.9 million loss in 2010, according to the annual report.

The New York-based organization is also undergoing a major rebranding. In 2008, the scouts hired Laurel Ritchie away from public relations firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide to serve as the first chief marketing officer.

Her task was to make the families of potential members aware that Girl Scouts had more to offer than green skirts, camping and cookie sales, with programs focused on entrepreneurship and recreation.

The scouts launched a national brand campaign in 2010 themed around the question, “What Did You Do Today?”

At the time, scout membership was declining between 1 percent and 2 percent each year, and dropped 4 percent between 2009 and 2010. There are currently 2.3 million girls in the Girl Scouts 112 regional councils, down from 2.8 million in 2008.

Membership figures have been “stagnant” of late, said spokesman Joshua Ackley, but the organization has seen “huge increases in membership” among Hispanics. The number of Hispanic girls in the scouts has increased 55 percent since 2001, Ackley said.

Chávez, who is 43, was born in southern Arizona. She joined the staff of former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2003 as director of intergovernmental affairs, and in 2007 was named her deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community development.

Cloninger is retiring after eight years leading the national office for the scouts. She was once a program officer of the youth in education division at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and before taking over in New York served as CEO of the Girl Scout Council of Cumberland Valley, Tenn. Contact: (212) 852-8000, www.girlscouts.org.

***

Robert Reischauer, who has served as president of major social policy think tank, Urban Institute, for the past 11 years, will step down at the end of 2011.

Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute, which was established in 1968 out of the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission on civic leadership appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, produces research and hosts forums on nonprofit management and a number of youth-related issues.

Among the projects initiated during Reischauer’s tenure: An annual report breaking down federal spending on youth, and a regular discussion series called “Thursday’s Child,” at which  advocates and the media are invited to a moderated discussion of trends in child welfare services.

Reischauer served as director of the Congressional Budget Office for six years before joining Urban. The national search for a new leader is being conducted by the institute’s board of trustees with help from the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Contact: (202) 833-7200, www.urban.org.

***

A former Urban Institute program, called the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education (CALDER), relocated to the American Institutes for Research in July.

The center emphasizes how rigorous research can support better educational policies. The center’s researchers use longitudinal data and econometric techniques to examine such things as how teacher policies, governance policies, and social and economic community conditions affect outcomes for teachers and their students.

CALDER will operate as a joint project of AIR and scholars at Duke University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, the University of Missouri, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of Washington. AIR will also bring on CALDER’s, director at Urban, Jane Hannaway, who will report to AIR President David Myers.

“Since its founding, CALDER has been focused on student outcomes, utilizing longitudinal databases and other data sources to provide research-based answers to some of the most challenging questions facing the education field today,” Hannaway said.  “AIR is an excellent home for this important work, helping deliver those answers to stakeholders at the federal, state, and district who most benefit from good data.” Contact: (202) 261-5739, www.caldercenter.org.

***

Hillsides CEO Joseph Costa will serve as chairman for the Child Welfare League of America’s board of directors for the organization’s current fiscal year. Costa was selected during the organization’s annual meeting in July.

Costa is CEO of the Pasadena-based Hillsides, which serves children involved in the Los Angeles County child welfare system with community programs, residential treatment center and transitional living. Contact: CWLA (202) 688-4200, www.cwla.org.

***

The Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), a nonprofit advocacy and litigation group dedicated to improving the lives of low-income children, added two new board members. Walter P. “Pat” Loughlin is a litigation partner in the New York office of K&L Gates, and serves as a member of his firm's pro bono committee. Victoria Boesch is a litigator with Munger, Tolles & Olson in San Francisco, specializing in class action and employment. Boesch is currently working on revising the Handbook for Litigants Without a Lawyer for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The center also has retained the help of criminal defense attorney lobbyist Kathy Sher, former staff counsel to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee, to serve as a volunteer coordinator of NCYL’s legislative work in California. Contact: (510) 835-8098, www.youthlaw.org.

***

Youth Service America CEO Steve Culbertson was appointed to the National Youth Service Rights Association (NYRA) board of advisors in July. NYRA, which shares an office with Youth Service America in Washington, is a youth-led national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for the civil rights and liberties of young people, including lowering the voting and drinking ages, and the repeal of curfew laws that prohibit youth from traveling freely during certain periods of the day or night.

Culbertson will advise on policy decisions, offer guidance on youth-related issues and assist with the organization’s development. (202) 835-1739, www.youthrights.org.

Foundations

Steve Gunderson, former Wisconsin congressman, resigned as CEO of the Council on Foundations this month after six years. Gunderson oversaw a difficult time in the history of the Arlington, Va.-based organization, which is an association of about 2,000 grant-making foundations and corporate entities.

COF was able to retain most of its membership and even add 100 new members during an economic period in which philanthropic assets were cut deeply by the recession. But because of a decline in its own revenue, and a fraud scheme by a group of employees that resulted in the loss of nearly $200,000, Gunderson was forced to cut the council’s full-time staff from 105 back to 65.

“The Council is now stronger and better than at any time in my tenure,” Gunderson wrote in a letter to staff dated July 5. “After a series of conversations with the Board Leadership, I have concluded that this is the right time for a transition in the leadership of the Council, and the right time for me to begin the next chapter of my professional service.” Contact: (800) 673-9036, www.cof.org.

Government

Sonal Shah stepped down as head of the White House Office of Social Innovation, which invests in community programming and promoting community service, in August. Shah was head of global development initiatives for Google.org before joining the administration. Contact: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/sicp.

***

Two prominent city child welfare leaders stepped down over the summer. In Clark County, Nev., Tom Morton, a veteran consultant who became head of the Clark County child welfare system in 2006, stepped down on Aug.19. Morton was the CEO of the Child Welfare Institute in Georgia before he took the job in Las Vegas. Contact: (702) 455-0000, www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/family_services.

In New York City, child welfare director John Mattingly resigned after seven years. Mattingly told senior staff at the Administration for Children Services that his wife’s illness prompted the move. Mattingly will return to Baltimore’s Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he served as a senior associate before taking the job with ACS.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has named Queens Family Court Judge Ronald Richter to replace Mattingly. Contact: (212) 341-0900, www.nyc.gov/acs.

 

***

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has gone through three child welfare directors in nine months. Trish Ploehn was removed from the job in December, following a report that said the agency was in “crisis.”

A key architect of that report – Antonia Jimenez, an aide to the county’s chief executive William Fujioka at the time – was replaced Ploehn. But Jimenez resigned in May after refusing to follow the reform plan proposed by the county supervisors. The commissioners promptly voted to strip Fujioka’s office of its responsibilities over DCFS, and placed the agency under the direct control of the supervisors.

Jimenez was then succeeded by Jackie Contreras, who had served as Ploehn’s second-in-command since 2010. Three months later, in early August, Contreras quit, and now returns to the job she had before joining Ploehn: consulting for the Seattle-based Casey Family Programs, which assists local and state agencies with the improvement of child welfare services.

The supervisors named Philip Browning, who was the county’s director of public social services, to serve as interim chief and intend to nominate him for the job.  Contact: (213) 351-5507, http://dcfs.co.la.ca.us/contactus/index.html

Passages

Allen Breed, 90, former leader of the California Youth Authority and director of the National Institute of Corrections under former President Jimmy Carter. Breed led the statewide effort to remove juvenile status offenders from secure confinement in California, during the 1970s, and served as a key advocate for the passage of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 1974.

***

SPECIAL SECTION

Few organizations in the field of youth work exist where the leader is as iconic as the name itself. Marian Wright Edelman at Children’s Defense Fund comes to mind, as does Dorothy Stoneman at YouthBuild USA. Larry Brown led the national dropout prevention outfit WAVE from 1978 until he passed away in 2009; the group dissolved less than a year after he died.  

The rarified air of leadership lost another member last month when Peter Goldberg, CEO of Milwaukee-based Families International for the past 17 years, died on Aug. 12, after suffering a heart attack while hiking with his wife in Maine.

Families International is the parent organization of the nonprofit Alliance for Children and Families, one of the largest membership organizations in the field of youth services, many of them nonprofit providers of family preservation and foster care.

Goldberg helped build the Alliance into one of the strongest trade groups in human services, regularly securing funds for projects aimed at developing the staff and capacity of Alliance members. Recently, the Alliance received a four-year, $5.4 million grant from the Kresge Foundation to help 19 of its 350 members develop long-term strategies for their future

So tied in to the expansion and evolution of the Alliance was Goldberg that it’s hard for members to fathom the organization without him.

“He was by far one of the best, if not the best, at raising money from foundations to provide programs and services for executives and organizations to enhance the ability to provide quality service,” said Tom Curcio, CEO of the Board of Child Care in Baltimore, Md. “He’ll be difficult to replace.”

Goldberg did not see advocacy as a primary function of the Alliance, although the organization does have a presence in Washington led by Patrick Lester. Instead, said CEO Molly Greenman of The Family Partnership in Minneapolis, he secured resources and planned trainings aimed at “encouraging member organizations to develop their own capacity to do advocacy and civic engagement.”

Another of Goldberg’s legacies will be the role Alliance played in helping many of its members shift away from residential care and toward community-based programs.

“He was always looking around two corners,” said Dennis Richardson, CEO of Hillside Family of Agencies in New York. Hillside now serves 12,000 children who remain at home and about 1,000 in their facilities, which Richardson said is “absolutely a sea change” from the organization’s origin as a residential provider.

“Peter helped us imagine what Hillside would do as they found better alternatives to residential care,” Richardson said. “But he also challenged us to look for what might replace what replaced residential care.”

Families International also operates United Neighborhood Centers of America, Ways to Work, and the for-profit FEI Behavioral Health.

Stephen Mack, who is currently chair of the Alliance for Children and Families board, will serve as interim CEO of Families International while the board conducts a national search for Goldberg’s replacement.