Hephzibah's iconic Executive Director, Mary Anne Brown, has announced that she will retire in June
Mary Anne Brown, Executive Director of Hephzibah Children’s Association for more than 40 years, has announced she will retire on June 30, 2017. Under Mary Anne’s leadership Hephzibah expanded from a day care center with an annual budget of $100,000 to a nationally recognized child welfare agency with a full complement of interrelated services and an annual budget exceeding $9 million dollars.
“A Home With a Heart,” is how many describe Hephzibah, thanks to Mary Anne’s compassion for children and determination to help them succeed. As an iconic leader who greets each child by name in her sunny office at 946 North Boulevard, she has shaped the lives of generations of families, while inspiring an entire community to join the cause.
The Oak Park, IL-based agency’s programs include two group homes: a short-term diagnostic center for abused and neglected children and a residential program for children ages 3 to 11. The agency also supports more than 70 specialized foster homes throughout the state, assists families in crises, offers after school care for over 500 children, and provides Head Start and early Head Start programs for preschoolers from low-income families.
“Mary Anne is leaving big shoes to fill,” said Tom Yates, president of Hephzibah’s Board of Directors.
“She has spent 40 years passionately fighting for children and expanding Hephzibah’s offerings to serve an increasing number of children and families and we are grateful for her years of dedicated and tireless leadership. Mary Anne has made Hephzibah a model of how to care for children in an effective and caring manner. We will miss her spirit and enthusiasm.”
During her tenure, Mary Anne initiated innovative programs including a Summer Reading Academy to boost academic performance, the Hephzibah Huskies high school volunteer group that connects kids to the community, HeartMates who mentor group home children on a weekly basis, and Camp HepSibah, a unique summer camp that reunites siblings separated by foster care for a week of shared fun and healing.
People return to Hephzibah with stories of how the agency, as envisioned and led by Mary Anne Brown, helped their family navigate difficult times, how it provided high-quality affordable day care so they could work, or offered a safe haven in their childhood.
Mary Anne has received leadership awards from Concordia University in River Forest, IL, the Oak Park Education Foundation and the Illinois Humane Society. She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Dominican University and was identified by Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Chicago.”
She will be missed by all those in our community who came in contact with the myriad of services provided by Hephzibah. Her knowledge, expertise and warm and outgoing manner are responsible for forming Hephzibah into the organization it is today. She is known by all to be a fierce, loving champion of children.
The organization plans to honor the work and accomplishments of Mary Anne Brown by awarding her with the Heart of Gold Award at this year’s Heart of Gold Ball. Leading from the Heart: A Tribute to Mary Anne Brown, is the theme for this year’s event which will be held on March 4, 2017 at the Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago. To learn more about the event and how to share your message of gratitude, contact Gina Donlin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 708-649-7140.