October 21, 2017
 
Lesli Suggs Appointed President of The Home for Little Wanderers

Lesli Suggs
October 7, 2017 — The Home for Little Wanderers, a Boston-based nonprofit that is the nation’s oldest child and family services agency, announced that Lesli Suggs will be the next president and chief executive officer of the 152-year-old organization.

Suggs, currently Vice President for Program Operations at The Home for Little Wanderers, will succeed Joan Wallace-Benjamin, who will step down in January after serving 15 years in the post.

“This is really a moment of strength for The Home, when we can build on the momentum of Joan’s accomplishments,” said Christopher Egan, board chair of The Home. “Joan has transformed The Home into a leader, if not the leader, of modern child and family services in Massachusetts, and therefore the nation. I am confident that our future is incredibly bright because of her work. Furthermore, Lesli’s unanimous endorsement by our board speaks to her ability to continue The Home’s leadership in an ever-changing field into the coming decades.”

Suggs joined The Home in January 2011 as Senior director of Community-Based and Behavioral Health Programs. She was then named to her current position in October 2013, responsible for the day-to-day operations of all of The Home’s programs, including management oversight of more than 700 of the organization's 800 employees.

Suggs has extensive experience in child welfare and behavioral health, focused on residential and special education; adoption and foster care; community mental health; sexual abuse; and trauma; as well as issues that impact children such as income inequality, poverty, and community violence.

She was described as "the driving force" behind The Home’s new Permanency Initiative, which advocates continuous family commitment, both emotional and legal, for youth in the child welfare system. The Permanency Initiative is designed to reduce the number of young people in Massachusetts, currently 800 annually, who age out of the child welfare system and transition to independent living without permanent connections.

Before joining The Home, Suggs served as vice president of program for communities for people in Boston and assistant vice president at Health and Education Services on the North Shore. She serves as a board director for Link House, Inc. and co-chairs the Transition Aged Youth Coalition for The Children’s League of Massachusetts.

Suggs received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas Christian University and later graduated from Simmons College with a Master of Social Work degree.

Wallace-Benjamin, who has worked in the field serving children and their families for the past 35 years, presided over growth in The Home’s endowment from $71 million in 2003 to $99 million today. She also has overseen the growth of the agency’s signature fundraising event, Voices & Visions, which went from $250,000 in 2005 to $1 million annually since 2013.

The Home traces its history to the establishment of the Boston Female Asylum, an orphanage, in 1799. The New England Home for Little Wanderers was founded in 1865 by 10 Boston area businessmen with an original goal of caring for children who had been orphaned and left homeless by the Civil War.

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