Vice President, Center for Systems Innovation
Putting service first has long been a way of life for Teresa Markowitz, who grew up in a small farming town in Kansas. “We were very close knit and almost everything we did in our family was in service to the church and the community,” says Markowitz. “My family taught me the importance of community involvement early in my life.”
Her efforts today are on a much larger scale as vice president of Casey’s Center for Systems Innovation, where Markowitz oversees a body of work aimed at improving outcomes for millions of children in the nation’s most vulnerable families. She leads the Foundation’s work to promote improvements in child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health; to encourage the use of technology in human service delivery systems; and to develop practices that strengthen families and bring to scale proven programs.
Markowitz began her career working with youth in the juvenile justice system. Those experiences led her to work as a family therapist with children and families experiencing varying and serious levels of trauma. She held leadership roles in several mental health care organizations and ran psychiatric hospitals before being named commissioner of Children and Family Services in Kansas in 1995. In that role, she led a child welfare system reform effort that changed the way services were delivered and tracked in Kansas, improving results for kids and families.
Markowitz became involved with the Casey Foundation when she was selected for the Children and Family Fellowship class of 2001. After the fellowship, she stayed on as a special assistant to the president and served as chief of staff to former Foundation President and CEO Doug Nelson and Casey's current president, Patrick McCarthy. In 2011, she was tapped as vice president for the Center for Systems Innovation, which, given her background in juvenile justice, child welfare and mental health, “felt a little bit like coming home.”
With the goal of ensuring that more children grow up with permanent and loving families, Markowitz is immersed in ongoing and emerging work to help states reform their human services systems, provide high-quality training for child welfare providers and frontline workers and better serve children in the juvenile justice system. Her work also encompasses creating more effective tools to assess the well-being of children in the child welfare system, fostering the spread of evidence-based practices and using tools such as Casebook to seamlessly track and communicate critical information to serve children and families in the system. Another priority is ensuring that older youth who have aged out of the child welfare system have the necessary tools to navigate adulthood, through practice strategies as well as policy reform, as part of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.
Markowitz serves on the boards of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, the Institute for Child Outcomes, KVC Behavioral Health Systems and the Emporia State University Foundation.