Our Kids Honors Miami's Ms. Claus ~ Anabel "Bunchy" Gertner
Our Kids honored Anabel "Bunchy" Gertner at a reception at Laloggia on, Wednesday, February 7, for her years of selfless service to ensure our children feel special for the holidays and when they age out of foster care and begin their journey to self-sufficient adulthood.
National Adoption Day 2014
The event took place at the Miami Children’s Museum where exhibits were turned into mock courtrooms and 43 adoptions were finalized, creating 38 Forever Families. Each family received an annual membership to the Miami Children’s Museum so they can return throughout the year and enjoy all that the museum has to offer. Families also received gift cards to Publix and Toys R’ Us, on behalf of the family and friends of Carla Merhige and Lisa Merhige Knight.
Thank you to The Children’s Trust and everyone who helped make this day special for our families, it would not be possible without your hard work and dedication.
A Message From Our Board of Trustees
As many of you probably already know, the Our Kids Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of our CEO Fran Allegra. After 10 years at the helm of Our Kids, Fran will be leaving to be the Founding President for the Seed School of Miami, a college-prep public boarding school, and the first of its kind in South Florida. Fran joined Our Kids in January, 2004 as the Vice President of Field Operations and went on to fulfill the role of Executive Director in 2006 before being named President/CEO of the organization in 2007.
Her contributions to Our Kids over the last 10 years have been invaluable and she has always been at the forefront of change for the organization, beginning in 2005 when Our Kids transferred services from DCF and planned its startup as the lead agency for community-based care in South Florida. During this time, Our Kids also began introducing evidenced-based approaches, which were created by leveraging alliances with national experts, such as Georgetown University, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Research Center, and the Alliance for Children and Families, all of which have significantly enhanced our system of care. Additionally, Fran, along with Our Kids board members Adam Goldstein and Berta Blecke, served on Governor Scott's Transition Team for Health and Human Services in 2010.
As a result of her commitment, Our Kids has distinguished itself as an innovator and thought leader in the child welfare field, yielding several prestigious recognitions from national organizations, including Computerworld, Mobile Enterprise Magazine and the Congressional Coalition on Adoptions. The award from Computerworld was particularly special as it positioned Our Kids as an industry leader and innovator for bringing cutting-edge, new technologies to field-based, direct care staff, and pioneering a new business model for social services nationwide.
More than that, Fran's true legacy will be the strong leadership team she built and the family-like environment of dedicated professionals who work hard to support each other and our community's most vulnerable kids and families. She also leaves behind a solid and cohesive network of local non-profits that execute our vision to the best of their abilities every day.
We are thankful for the vision and guidance Fran provided as she has steered Our Kids over the past decade. Because of her work and dedication, we are now poised to take on new, exciting projects with foster parents and case manager recruitment as well. Fran will stay on for the next few months during a transition period in which the Board will initiate a selection process and choose a new CEO. During this time, we remain committed to supporting Our Kids through the process and guaranteeing the quality of our services, together with the organization’s superb leadership team. We wish Fran all the best in her new endeavors and appreciate her steadfast service to Our Kids. Fran's work has established a solid foundation for the future of our service.
From the Board of Trustees
We are thrilled to announce that Jackie Gonzalez, Esq. has joined the organization as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe effective September 2, 2014.
Ms. Gonzalez is a highly experienced child welfare professional, spending the last 13 years at the Children’s Home Society of Miami where she most recently served as its Executive Director.
“Jackie’s experience and extensive knowledge of Florida’s child welfare system makes her the perfect person to lead Our Kids and continue to build upon the last decade of work,” said Sandy Bohrer, Our Kids Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “We look forward to her leadership as we continue to innovate our approach to improving the child welfare system.”
In the last 27 years, Gonzalez has championed child welfare advocacy in Florida. She successfully worked in a myriad of areas in the industry including providing leadership in case management, establishing prevention/intervention programs, forming strategic alliances with industry partners, overseeing budgets and interfacing with leaders at the local and state level.
“In a short amount of time, Our Kids has set the standard for child welfare in Florida and nationwide and I am honored to have been selected to take on the leadership of the organization,” said Gonzalez. “I look forward to building on its success and to continue acting as a champion for children in our community.”
Board Honoree of the Month
To the Our Kids Team and Community Partners
Joyce is an Assistant Professor at Springfield College Graduate School of Social Work and a Consultant/Trainer/Coach at Yale Program on Supervision, Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Joyce has also served as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
In addition, the Board has engaged a search firm to find a permanent CEO by the end of Joyce's term.
Please joins us in welcoming Dr. Taylor.