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TACFS Women

Podcast Series 

Blog Series 

  • March 20, 2019 5:14 PM | Jenn Vigh (Administrator)

    "My passion for this work is ignited when I witness the amazing resilience of the young women we serve."

    ~Darcie DeShazo, LCSW, Executive Director of The Settlement Home for Children~

    Who is a woman leader/mentor in your life and what impact has she had on your life and career? 

    In graduate school, one of my professors at the UT School of Social Work, Bonnie Bain, shaped my perspective on social work. When I grew impatient and hopeless about ever making a difference in the world, she gently reminded me that we plant seeds and must be patient as they grow---even if that means we don’t see this happen in front of our eyes—the seeds we plant are important and have a lasting impact.

    My predecessor at The Settlement Home, Linda Addicks Kokemor, is my mentor in the truest sense of the word. She believed in me and gave me time to grow alongside her before handing me the reigns. She was an exceptional Executive Director and is my hero.

    How did your leadership role at the Settlement Home develop? What is your story?

    Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to help people, which led me to social work. I majored in Psychology at UT in undergrad and became interested in counseling. After a couple of years working in direct care at The Settlement Home, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. I really enjoyed being a therapist working with adolescent girls and I developed a small private practice outside of my work at The Settlement Home, which allowed me to work with a broader range of clients. However, after about five years of practicing as a clinician, I felt myself leaning toward the administrative side of things. I loved looking at the “the big picture.” As a Program Director, I realized what a good fit it was for me to be in a leadership role and to be more involved in planning, program development and fundraising. As Associate Director, I was able to work closely our Executive Director and other Executive Directors in the community and it just felt like the right fit for me.

    I started as Executive Director on September 30, 2013. However, I have worked at The Settlement Home since 1999—it was my first job out of college. My studies and internships took me across the world to Australia and London, but I always returned to The Settlement Home. I have worn many hats at The Settlement Home, including Youth Care Counselor, Houseparent, Campus Coordinator, Therapist, Program Director and Associate Director.

    A goal of this campaign is to shed light on the statement that "Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare." What are your thoughts on this? Can you speak into this statement on behalf of the Settlement Home?

      My passion for this work is ignited when I witness the amazing resilience of the young women we serve. On a regular basis, I have the privilege of witnessing strong young people bounce back from unimaginable adversity. Seeing the smile of a student making the "A Honor Roll" for the first time, noticing the sense of accomplishment in the eyes of a girl crossing the finish line at her first 5K race, or getting to congratulate a young woman after she learns she landed her first job in the community - these are the experiences that drive me.

    The Settlement Home was founded by 12 women in 1916 and this group has grown to almost 500 members from the Austin community. These women give their time, talent and resources to ensure the best possible care is given to the children, young adults and families we serve. The board of directors is made up of Settlement Club members, which means it is truly a female-led organization. All but one of our executive team members on staff are women and our client base is predominantly girls. Female role models are vital to empowering and restoring a sense of purpose for the girls we serve. This happens daily at The Settlement Home and it is inspiring!

    Have you faced challenges in your leadership role as a woman? If so how did you or are you over coming them?

    Unfortunately, there have been a few times when I have felt discredited for getting heated or worked up about an injustice. If I speak up in a community meeting or get fired up about something, there is a sense that because I am a woman, I am overly emotional or dramatic. If I see a man do the same thing, it is seen as courageous and passionate. It is just something I’ve noticed over the years. It doesn’t stop me though! 

    If there was one statement you could deliver to the youth and families in your community in light of this special month celebrating the accomplishments of women, what would it be?

    Be kind to yourself.


  • March 15, 2019 10:06 AM | Jenn Vigh (Administrator)

    "A huge part of what drives me to advocate for these children and families is my role as a mother"

    ~Chrystal Smith, Co-Founder of Foster Village Austin~

    Who is a woman leader/mentor in your life and what impact has she had on your life and career? 

    My mom become a mother at 17 with countless odds stacked against her. She managed to overcome every hurdle in her path with the determination to create a new legacy for her children. My two brothers and I went on to become the first in our family to graduate from college and break cycles of dysfunction. 

    How did your leadership role at Foster Village develop? What is your story?

    It started from personal experience as a foster parent where I was able to get a front-line's view of the various gaps that seemed to be overlooked at the time. The difficulties we experienced led to a grass-roots community movement to work on filling those gaps. I saw a need for the community to play a more active role in caring for our children and families in crisis. Once we started connecting the dots between the community and the needs, it snowballed into what is now Foster Village Inc. We've served thousands of children and caregivers and now have 5 affiliate locations nationwide (all in less than 3 years!). The three pillars of the Foster Village mission are to Equip, Connect, and Advocate for our most vulnerable through the lens of "community beyond the system."

    A goal of this campaign is to shed light on the statement that "Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare." What are your thoughts on this? Can you speak into this statement on behalf of Foster Village? 

    A huge part of what drives me to advocate for these children and families is my role as a mother, especially to my daughter. During her time in foster care, she did not have a voice. I want to model for her that when our vulnerable neighbors are in this position, it is our responsibility to give them that voice. I see this on a daily basis with women in the role of Foster Mom, CASA worker, Caseworker, and so many other critical roles that women have as advocates for our most vulnerable. These are not glamorous jobs but they are what I believe make the biggest difference in this world.  

    Have you faced challenges in your leadership role as a woman? If so how did you or are you over coming them? 

    One of the most common challenges I hear women in leadership talk about is the "imposter syndrome." Culturally, we have not always been modeled many examples of women in leadership positions. So it can feel as though we are imposters and/or unqualified when stepping into a position of pioneering change. In reality, though, I believe women tend to be the most equipped in envisioning and paving the way for the clearest and most effective path to change for the better.

    If there was one statement you could deliver to the youth and families in your community in light of this special month celebrating the accomplishments of women, what would it be?

    We love you, we see you, and we are with you. You have a village of mothers, sisters, and daughters who are standing by to meet you in the gaps where we can walk together on the path to a brighter future.

     


  • March 13, 2019 4:30 PM | Jenn Vigh (Administrator)

    "Take time this month to learn about & thank the 'ordinary' women in your life who are doing extraordinary things!"

    ~Jenifer Jarriel, President & CEO of Depelchin Children's Center~

    Who is a woman leader/mentor in your life and what impact has she had on your life and career? 

    I have been blessed with many great women in my professional and personal lives (men too).  I have always found ways to learn wherever my career lead me.  I am a good observer of people and I learned what to do and just as important, not to do in my work-life.  Early in my career, I learned to let people know what I wanted as my next step, and these great mentors would direct opportunities my way.  Along the way, I learned to be prepared for meetings, communicate to be understood, how to have “grace under fire”, have critical conversations, listen more than talk, and be direct yet kind.

    How did your leadership role at Depelchin Children's Center develop? What is your story?

    I had a muti-decade career in academic healthcare IT as a Chief Information Officer and one day (7 years ago), I received a call from an executive recruiter who wanted to talk with me about the CEO position at DePelchin Children’s Center.  At that point I had no idea what DePelchin was and I at first was very hesitant to begin this conversation.  Being the expert executive recruiter that she was, she asked if she could send me information on the position and asked if I would just browse it, and I said yes.  From there, the process began, and it was quite extensive.  The process started with an interview with the executive search firm, then recruitment committee of the DePelchin Board, then interviews with the Senior Leadership team, HR Officer, and dinner with Board members.  The last hurdle was a request on a Thursday to develop a long term plan for DePelchin that would be presented to the Board a day and one-half later on Saturday.  I cannot discreetly share what I thought about this whole process, but I do love a challenge, so I agreed.  That Friday evening, I was in Kinkos at 10:30 p.m., making copies of the presentation for the meeting the next day.  I made the presentation in record time, answered a few questions, and politely excused myself.  I received a call the next Saturday with an offer.  I was somewhat taken aback, and asked to give me the weekend to think about it.        

    A goal of this campaign is to shed light on the statement that "Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare." What are your thoughts on this? Can you speak into this statement on behalf of Depelchin?

    Women are a large part of the workforce in Texas child welfare, so by the fact of sheer numbers, we are making impacts.  Women bring a perspective, style, and approach to our work that can complement our counterparts.  DePelchin Children’s Center was started by a pioneer woman, Kezia DePelchin, who took three abandoned young boys from the hospital and started her home in 1892.  The women in Houston helped Kezia as the need and number of children grew.  These women were instrumental in engaging the community to provide Kezia the needed support.  When she died only a short time later, these dedicated women of the community continued her legacy. Fast forward to 2019, DePelchin still continues to rely on community support to meet our mission. 

    Have you faced challenges in your leadership role as a woman? If so how did you or are you over coming them?

    My leadership role presents me with many opportunities and in addition to leading I also know how important it is to serve others.  Having been in organizations for many years, I have experienced offensive interactions, and occasions that would not be tolerated in present times.  But I always viewed my role as equal to others, I responded with respect, and I held myself to the highest of standards and integrity.  I have the privilege of leading an exceptional organization of dedicated professionals serving some of the most vulnerable children, youth and families in Texas.  I treasure the work that I do, and hold myself accountable to contribute every day.  Because that is what my team, collaborators, our children, youth and families deserve.       




  • March 06, 2019 5:35 PM | Jenn Vigh (Administrator)

    "Women are strong, capable and committed to serve!"

    ~Cynthia Smith, Executive Director of RISE Services, Inc.~

    Who is a woman leader/mentor in your life and what impact has she had on your life and career? 

    The woman leader/mentor in my life was Dr. Carolyn Eberwein.  She was the CEO at Children’s Choice, a multi-state foster care agency with its administrative office in Philadelphia.  Dr. Carolyn was my direct supervisor for almost 20 years when I lived in Philly.  She had a huge impact on my life and career.  She moved me and my family from Arlington to Philadelphia to take a position as an adoption supervisor.  Within a month I was on the executive team of the agency and held multiple roles over the years.  She valued education as a former teacher and encouraged me to complete my doctorate degree and work full time while my son was only 3 months old!  With 6 children of her own, she was a tremendous example of the strength of a woman to be fully involved with her own children and family while being a CEO of a foster care agency and helping other children and families.  With Dr. Carolyn’s support I was able to complete my doctorate degree, hold an executive position within the agency and raise two small children!  

    How did your leadership role at RISE Services develop? What is your story?

    I was working with the leadership at OC-OK as a consultant on the Performance Based Care Contract.  RISE Services was selected as a contract recipient and I was offered the Executive Director position to get RISE Services Texas licensed and develop RISE PHBC services in Region 3b.  

    A goal of this campaign is to shed light on the statement that "Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare." What are your thoughts on this? Can you speak into this statement on behalf of RISE Services?

    I truly believe that “Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare” and as much as I’d like to say I was referring to myself and other female executives I’m really referring to the young women that choose this career path and serve as the front line staff working with children and families every day!  These young women have many more options for a career path than I did 30 years ago and to choose this challenging career over others that are available is truly the mark of a woman determined to make a difference!  Within the entire RISE organization, we have 1960 women providing services to children and families and I know without a doubt that they are making a difference and shaping lives every single day!

    Have you faced challenges in your leadership role as a woman? If so how did you or are you over coming them?

    I personally haven’t faced challenges in a leadership role as a woman but I am well aware of how the gender in the room has changed from predominantly females to fewer females as my career has advanced into higher executive positions.  It would be my hope that the numbers of women holding executive positions within agencies is in direct correlation to the number of women that make up our direct services and mid level management positions.    



Vlog Series 

 "There's no better group than women to influence positive change." 

~Pam Reed, Executive Director of Devereux Texas

"Women are the backbone of the family and women are the backbone of the workforce."

~Sharon Beard, Business Manager at Kidz Harbor~   



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