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Colleen V.

Senior Director of Foster Care
Northeast, Parsons, Northern Rivers

Joined in 2009

Prior Positions Held

  • Director of Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention, Northeast, Northern Rivers 
  • Program Coordinator, Queensbury Office, Therapeutic Foster Family Program, Northeast, Northern Rivers
  • Master's Level Clinician for Washington County, Intensive Aftercare and Prevention Program, Northeast

Career Highlights

  • Colleen has had three significant promotions in her years at Northern Rivers, which she feels recognizes her hard work as well as the organization's support, encouragement, and training.
  • Great supervisors have made a difference for Colleen, challenging her to think critically and as a result to grow as a leader and as a person.
  • Colleen addresses the geographical distance of the seven foster care offices by going to them to meet face to face, pulling groups together for peer support, and encouraging all to bring their different strengths to a situation. 

    As senior director of foster care for Northeast Parent & Child Society and Parsons Child & Family Center, Colleen provides oversight for all Northern Rivers foster care services: overnight respite, and therapeutic, kinship, and specialized foster care. She focuses on making sure that her staff have what they need to do the best job possible on behalf of children. "Through my years of experience, I have come to understand that people may not remember what you say, or even what you did, but will not forget how you made them feel," she says, 

    Colleen came to the organization after working in her family business and starting a family. Wanting to return to social work, she applied for and became a clinician in the prevention program. A little more than a year later, she had the opportunity to use her business-developed supervisory and leadership skills when she took on a program coordinator role for the Therapeutic Foster Family Program. Of the move to an administrative role, she says, "I felt that I was capable of doing more and having a better reach." She became director of foster parent recruitment in 2010 and retention in 2016 before becoming senior director of foster care in 2021. In all that she does, Colleen leads toward the safety and well-being of children and families as well as permanency—permanent living situations—for children in the program.

    The foster care program helps about 220 children each year, and about the same number of families, with a staff of 65 in seven offices throughout the state. Colleen focuses on ensuring that her staff are trained in and use trauma-informed practices in their work, aligning with the organization’s core principles. She also firmly believes in building strong, supportive teams, particularly in the face of their geographical distance.

    Colleen notes that she has received support from Northern Rivers and its agencies. "I've been blessed with supportive and experienced supervisors," she says. "They have encouraged me to think critically, which has challenged me to grow not only as a leader, but as a person." She has had opportunities to work on new projects and to serve on different committees, gaining experience that has empowered her in her current position.

    "My supervisors have encouraged me to think critically, which has challenged me to grow not only as a leader, but as a person."

    Over the last few years, Colleen has dedicated time to honing her skills through training opportunities within the agency. She values Northern Rivers' free continuing education courses and encourages staff to take advantage of sessions offered by SATRI, the Northern Rivers training arm. "I am dedicated to ensuring my staff have the tools they need to develop and improve their own practice in order to feel confident and successful," she says.

    Colleen points out that she appreciates the different perspectives and experiences that her staff bring to the program. "It is highly valuable, and I encourage it. Life is about perspective and by sharing one's perspective, we can better understand and help others," she says. She also wants her teams to share their ideas so that they can be discussed and tried. She challenges staff to develop when she sees their potential, interest, and leadership qualities. "I've had support and encouragement through the years," she says, "I want to pass it on."


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