Social entrepreneurship is a quickly growing career path. People that choose to pursue an entrepreneurial career might begin their own agencies or invest in other agencies. Please read through some of the stories below for more.

John Mattingly, MSW, Ph.D, Commissioner, Administration for Children's Services

Career

John Mattingly is currently Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, the public agency responsible for all child protection, child welfare, child care, and Head Start services for the City. Prior to becoming Commissioner, Mr. Mattingly served as: Director of Human Services Reform at the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Executive Director of Lucas County Children Services in Toledo, Ohio; Executive Director of the Institute for Child Advocacy in Cleveland and the West Side Community House in the same city. He also directed the statewide effort to remove juveniles from Pennsylvania's adult correctional system known as the Camp Hill Project.

Child Welfare Beginnings

In 1980 in Cleveland, OH, I was working at a neighborhood settlement house. A number of our community agencies had come in contact with a 9 year-old boy whose safety we became worried enough about to call the county child abuse hotline. We got no response to our calls. A few days later, the boy turned up chained to his bed, frozen to death in the middle of a Cleveland winter. All of us involved in neighborhood work in the Near West Side of Cleveland became quite angry when the public child protection agency refused to even tell us if they had investigated our reports. We organized the community to approach the county commissioners and demand a response. After much media pressure, the commissioners reacted. We learned that, because of budget cuts, child protective workers were not able to even respond to neglect reports for 30 days. Pressed hard by community leaders, many new workers were then hired and trained by the county. Sadly, however, two years later we discovered that our political leaders had frozen hiring once again and that the backlog had reappeared.

Stung by this experience and convinced that child protection could be done better than this, I found myself in charge of the Lucas County children services agency in the same state some three years later. As we addressed the agency's problems, which were many, I discovered that our caseworkers tended to be young, eager, fresh out of college but very unready to enter the communities and homes they would be serving. They just had little sense of what poor families (often families of color) were struggling with in their lives. Sometimes workers in all good faith made decisions to remove children from their families or to leave children with unsafe families because of that lack of experience. It was at that point that I became convinced that large public agencies need desperately to link up with community leaders and with members of poor communities to get their help--both to protect children and to support needy families. Since that time, I have tried to take that lesson to child welfare systems everywhere: There are community people who know their neighborhoods well and can become great partners in our child welfare work, as long as we reach out to them.

Poul Jensen, President & CEO, Graham Windham

Child Welfare Beginnings

I started as a child care worker (youth counselor in a RTC) when I was 20 and an undergraduate, to child care supervisor to director of group living to program director (still with only BA in sociology) to Associate Executive (MS in Special Education) to Deputy Commissioner of ACS to President/CEO at Graham Windham. As for my experience as a direct care line worker (child care work in residential care), it was absolutely defining for me. Most of what I know about kids I learned while working the line, as a Child Care Worker (CCW), a CCW sup, a CCW department head and as a residential program director with heavy day-to-day contact with troubled/troubling kids. It's where my legitimacy comes from...and my authenticity. To this day, it's the best part of me...my core. If I have an edge, that's it.

William C. Bell, Ph.D., President & CEO, Casey Family Programs

Career

William C. Bell became president and chief executive officer of Casey Family Programs in January 2006. He chairs the Executive Team, and is ultimately responsible for the vision, mission, strategies and objectives of the foundation. Prior to becoming president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, he served as the foundation’s executive vice president for child and family services, providing strategic direction to nine field offices and leading a staff working directly with young people from the public child welfare system. Prior to joining Casey, he served as commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS); deputy commissioner of ACS’s Division of Child Protection; deputy commissioner of field services and contract agency case management for the New York City Human Resources Administration; and as associate executive director for Miracle Makers, the largest minority-owned, not-for-profit child and family services organization in New York.

Child Welfare Beginnings

There’s a line in one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite hymns that says, ‘If I can help somebody as I travel along, then my living shall not be in vain.’ Growing up in the South in the 60s and under the guidance of my mother, who possessed a great capacity to listen to, understand and help others, my desire to serve others in need was sparked early in life. My plan was to help others by becoming a medical doctor, so I earned my bachelor’s degree in biology. However, through a fortuitous chain of events, in the early 80s in New York, I was hired as a caseworker in a foster care prevention program and eventually worked as a consultant with daycare centers on child abuse prevention. It was in that capacity, as a child abuse prevention caseworker, that I developed a passion for the work I do and for our children. It was at that point that I committed myself to making life different for vulnerable children and families. Every child deserves to be parented effectively, and every child deserves the chance to dream and to have the opportunity to live to their full potential. Those early years in the field helped shape my belief that children are best served when we also address the needs of their families as well as the needs of the communities in which they live. Many aspire to imprint a positive impact on the world, but I have come to discover – through my career – through my life – that impact comes from living a life of service to others and creating a space for people to change their own lives.

Zeinab Chahine, Managing Director for Strategic Consulting, Casey Family Programs

Career

Zeinab Chahine is a Managing Director for Strategic Consulting and head of Casey Family Programs' New York City Office where she is responsible for 14 states and various local jurisdictions providing technical assistance to improve child welfare outcomes and safely reduce foster care placements. Ms. Chahine is considered a national expert in the child welfare field. Prior to joining Casey Family Programs, Ms. Chahine served as the Administration for Children's Services Executive Deputy Commissioner for Child Welfare Programs. She has previously held casework, supervisory and managerial positions.

Child Welfare Beginnings

I consider my time as a Child Protective Services' worker as the most meaningful professional experience of my career. I attribute my accomplishments to the grounding I received as part of my direct service experience with families and children.

Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, Ph.D., President & CEO, The Children's Village

Career

Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, Ph.D. is the President and CEO of The Children’s Village and The Center for Child Welfare Research at the Children’s Village Institute. The Children’s Village provides a broad continuum of programs including support for families, shelters for homeless youth and unaccompanied alien children, alternatives to incarceration, non-secure detention, alternative schools, affordable housing, and specialized services for 6,000 children and families in community settings and over 1,000 children in residential settings annually. Prior to his appointment at The Children’s Village, Dr. Kohomban was the Senior Vice President at Easter Seals and the President of the D.C. based National Association for Family-Based Services.

Child Welfare Beginnings

I came into this work almost accidentally while in college in Kansas. It was 1986, and I was driven by my passion to be a military officer. I was finding great success and enjoying myself tremendously. Early in 1987, an officer I respected greatly introduced me to the concept of foster care. I was intrigued and applied to a great local organization called The Farm that ran a group home in the town of Emporia, Kansas. The Farm is today the largest provider of children’s services in Kansas.

I was only interested in learning a “bit” more about this system called “foster care”. I was hired as a child care worker, working various shifts. It was difficult work, but I very quickly began enjoying working with the teenage boys. A year later I came back to my friend who had pointed me in this direction. I confessed to him that I was “guilty” of enjoying this new line of work and asked him what I should do. He strongly encouraged me to continue to pursue my interest. He also reminded me that I could still return to the military at a later date, if I found the foster care work tedious or uninspiring.

I remember well his use of the word “uninspiring” and I was not surprised. I personally witnessed my parents work and to this day I admire their contributions to people and I know in their case, the inspiration comes from within. I wanted the same. But to me it was a difficult choice because I had always wanted to be in the military. Nevertheless, at graduation in 1989 I returned to New York and while planning to study for my masters and PhD, I got a job as a caseworker. I was no longer in direct care, but my experiences in that group home had prepared me well for the work-at-hand. I was now enjoying the work as much as I enjoyed ROTC and by the early 1990’s I was determined to play a role in shaping how care is provided to children and families in crisis. I was fortunate to meet a number of great people along the way who invested their time in me. They helped me learn the system and the parents and children we serve have remained my inspiration since day-one!

Ruth Messinger, MSW, President, American Jewish World Service

Career

Ruth Messinger is president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a faith-based international human rights organization that works to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world. In addition to its grantmaking to over 400 grassroots projects around the world, AJWS works within the American Jewish community to promote global citizenship and social justice through activism, volunteer service and education. Ms. Messinger began her professional career in public service in Oklahoma, running a child-welfare agency. Ms. Messinger assumed this role in 1998 following a 20-year career in public service in New York City, where she served for 12 years on the New York City Council and eight as Manhattan borough president. She was the first woman to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination for mayor in 1997. Considered a national leader in the movement to end the genocide in Sudan, Ms. Messinger was among leading anti-genocide, peace and human rights advocates called upon to advise President Obama and the new special envoy for Sudan, General J. Scott Gration, in March 2009. In recognition of her leadership, she has served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty and Development. She is also involved in organizing faith-based efforts to secure human rights around the world, and recently served as keynote speaker at the National Interfaith Conference on Millennium Development Goals in San Francisco. For eight years, she was among the Forward’s “50 most influential Jews of the year.”

Child Welfare Beginnings

I went to social work school from 1962-64. For family reasons I relocated from NY to El Reno OK and graduated from the U of OK School of Social Work. The good news was that I had worked as a summer intern for the Office of Adoption Services in the Child Welfare Bureau of the Public Welfare Department for the state of OK so I was known to the people in those offices. The better news was that Congress passed the Child Welfare Reform Act of 1964, mandating that a social worker with an MSW run each county. But there were no social workers where we lived, so at 23 I took charge of child welfare for two counties. The mix of case work, organizing, administration and political negotiation in the county to get them to conform to federal law was a mix I loved. I have always, since then, gravitated to child welfare issues and agencies, used my experience in OK to talk about ways to make social change in a community and now—as the director of an international human rights and development organization—I pay particular attention to the needs of children.

Jacqueline P. Martin, LMSW, Director of Agency Program Assistance, Administration for Children's Services

Child Welfare Beginnings

It was the very early 1990s and I was about to begin a career in social work with an emphasis in Child Welfare. After doing per-diem weekend work at Covenant House working with run-away youth, I went to work in the South Bronx. At the time this community was one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation. The community and its residents, especially women and children, were devastated by the crack-cocaine epidemic. It was here that I met Ms. B. She had already given birth to one positive toxicology child and was about 7 months pregnant with her second. Ms. B’s parental instinct had been overwhelmed by her drug use but she wanted help. Others said she could never become drug free. What hope was there for her and her children in this environment? I was her hope. With my help Ms. B entered a residential drug treatment program and her second child was born drug free, though he had been exposed to drugs in utero for several months. Ms. B would have to help both of her children manage with this exposure to drugs for the rest of their lives. She was motivated to remain drug free and went on to marry and gain employment. She had hope.

I define hope as the confident expectation of good. For over 20 years this is what I have been to children and families, I give them hope beyond their circumstances; whether it is in direct practice or in monitoring the delivery of services by agencies contracted by Children’s Services. Child Welfare practice opened many opportunities for me in the years since the early 1990’s. I went on to earn a MSW, certifications in psychoanalysis-psychotherapy and Biblical counseling. In 2010 I was licensed as a minister and launched a counseling ministry at the Church where I worship. It is my life’s goal to continue to positively impact services to children and families in the way that many of them have impacted my life.