Lisa Hamilton has been named the next CEO of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), one of the nation’s most active grant makers on both child welfare and juvenile justice issues.
Hamilton will succeed Patrick McCarthy, who has announced his retirement after 25 years with AECF, the last nine of them as its leader.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Lisa’s experience and vision step into this important role,” said Michael Eskew, chair of the AECF Board of Trustees, in a statement announcing Hamilton’s promotion. “Lisa is an enormously talented leader who brings a deep understanding of the needs of kids and families, and she is the ideal leader to build on the terrific accomplishments of Patrick McCarthy. Her ability to use research and data to develop innovative strategies, and partner with communities and decision makers to spread what works, will enable the foundation to help all children realize their potential.”
Hamilton comes to the top job from a career rooted in communications. She served as vice president of public relations for UPS – whose founder, Jim Casey, started AECF in 1948 – before joining the foundation in 2010 as a vice president in charge of public affairs, policy reform and advocacy.
The transition of leadership is planned for January of 2019, according to the foundation.
McCarthy, once a division director for Delaware’s joint child welfare and juvenile justice agency, joined the foundation in 1994 to lead an initiative focused on improving mental health services for urban youth. He succeeded former CEO Doug Nelson in 2010.
AECF, which had assets of $2.7 billion as of 2017, has operated the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) for more than 25 years. The original mission was lower reliance on pre-trial detention in state and local juvenile justice systems, but has more recently expanded to include efforts to close large juvenile prisons and replace them with an array of options that include more community-based alternatives to incarceration.
In 2015, McCarthy delivered a “Tedx Talk” in which he called for the closure of large state juvenile facilities.
“I believe it’s long past time to close these inhumane, ineffective, wasteful factories of failure once and for all. Every one of them,” McCarthy said during the talk.
The foundation has initiated several child welfare ventures over the years, and has often provided assistance to systems forced into corrective action by class-action lawsuits. One of AECF’s recent child welfare priorities has been Children Need Amazing Parents, or CHAMPS, a campaign to improve the quality of the foster care system in dozens of states.
AECF also now includes the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, once a standalone organization, which focuses on assisting youth who have or are likely to age out of the foster care system. The foundation also produces the annual Kids Count Data Book, a collection of indicators it uses to gauge the well-being of children in each state.