Children & Families First announced Nov. 21 that Kirsten Olson, currently the organization’s chief strategy officer, was selected as the new CEO.

Olson’s selection was made after a comprehensive search process conducted by the CFF board of directors.

Kirsten is a highly respected leader at Children & Families First and in the nonprofit community,” said Jim Klabe, board chair. “We were pleased but not surprised that we had the right candidate for our next CEO within the agency.”

Children & Families First is a nonprofit human services agency that has operated in Delaware since 1884, with a mission to help children facing adversity on their journey to adulthood. They use proven methods to help families raise their children so they can flourish. Offering services statewide, the agency has locations in each county including Wilmington, Hockessin, Dover, Georgetown and Seaford.

“I am honored to have been selected as CFF’s next CEO,” said Olson. “It is a privilege to be part of an organization that delivers high quality, innovative services to children and families in Delaware, with an incredible team of talented and caring professionals.”

After spending more than a decade in the human services sector in Delaware, Olson joined the staff of Children & Families First in 2008, and has served on the agency’s management team since 2010, first as chief development officer and then as chief strategy officer, a role she has held since 2014.

Olson has extensive experience developing and delivering successful programs and initiatives informed by a brain science approach, driving organizational change, building and leveraging collaborative relationships and translating visionary ideas into practice.

Olson grew up in Delaware and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with honors from Trinity College and a certificate in executive leadership from the Alliance for Strong Families & Communities. She served as a National School Justice Fellow at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in 2017.

Olson will succeed Leslie Newman, who will retire from CFF at the end of the year, after serving as CEO for 13 years, with a total of 28 years of service to the agency. Under Newman’s leadership, the organization honed its focus on delivering evidence-based practice rooted in the science of trauma and resilience, bringing interventions like the nurse-family partnership and functional family therapy.

“We are an organization led by a purpose — to make a positive, meaningful impact for children and families, to build resilience in the face of trauma so that children and families can reach their full potential,” said Olson. “I am committed to delivering on our mission while ensuring that the organization remains strong, innovative, and competitive.”

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