Brenda Donald became acting director of the DC Child and Family Services Agency in January 2012, and received confirmation as director in April 2012. This marks her second tenure as the agency’s top leader. She originally joined CFSA shortly after the District elevated the child welfare function to a cabinet-level agency, serving as the agency’s first chief of staff from 2001 until April 2004. She was agency director until July 2005, and then served as DC deputy mayor for Children, Youth, Families, and Elders until December 2006.
Donald has over 25 years of senior management experience in the public and non-profit sectors. Before rejoining CFSA, she was vice president of the Center for Effective Family Services and Systems at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation’s largest organization solely dedicated to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. In that role, she oversaw programs that promoted improvements in public systems such as child welfare and juvenile justice with a focus on expanding evidence-based best practices.
As secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources from 2007 to 2010, Donald was responsible for designing and implementing two major systems reform agendas: Place Matters, a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s child welfare system, and MD RISE, a workforce development initiative for welfare and child support customers. In 2010, the Maryland Daily Record named Donald one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women.
Before joining CFSA in 2001, Donald served for five years as vice president for Municipal Programs at DC Agenda, a nonprofit organization that supports community building and government reform efforts in DC. Major accomplishments included developing the first DC Citizen’s Scorecard and creating the Cafritz Awards for Distinguished District Government Employees. During a decade in Little Rock, AR, she was promoted from chief of staff for the City Manager to assistant city manager. She completed training for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In 1995, she was selected as a fellow in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship Program.
Donald grew up in District Ward 8. She holds a BA in Journalism with honors from George Washington University and an MPA from the University of Arkansas.