At Retirement, President and CEO Patrick McCarthy Reflects on 25 Years at Casey

Posted December 19, 2018, By Lisa Hamilton

Subscribe in iTunes

Patrick McCarthy

Interviewee:

A respected clinician and public sector leader, Patrick McCarthy joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 1994. With a career serving in multiple capacities in the mental health and human services fields, McCarthy brought to Casey a broad perspective on what children, families and systems need to prosper. Throughout his tenure, he has led efforts to improve human services practices and policies to boost positive results for the nation’s most vulnerable kids and families. He held positions of increasing responsibility before being appointed the Foundation's president and CEO in 2010.

In the fall of 2018, McCarthy announced his intent to retire from the Foundation at the end of the year.

Before joining the Foundation, McCarthy held positions ranging from psychiatric social worker and head of a school for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges to university professor and division director at the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. He holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.

If we're going to make kids count, we have to make kids heard.

–Patrick McCarthy

Show Notes

During his Casey career, Patrick McCarthy has worked to realize — among other accomplishments — a deeper commitment to racial equity, a fairer and safer juvenile justice system and a more family-focused child welfare system.
 
Shortly after announcing his plans to retire, the Foundation tapped his colleague, CaseyCast host Lisa Hamilton, to follow in his footsteps. Hamilton will be exiting her post as executive vice president and chief program officer to take to the helm — and take the Foundation’s reins — in the New Year.  

In this podcast episode, Hamilton turns the microphone to McCarthy to gather his parting thoughts. Their discussion unpacks hard-won leadership advice, lessons learned and how the world — for both Casey and America’s kids — has changed over the last 25 years.

Original theme music composed by Stephen R. Frank at Baltimore Studios.

View Transcripts

Lisa Hamilton:
From the Annie E. Casey Foundation, I'm Lisa Hamilton and this… is CaseyCast.

At the Casey Foundation, we work to build a brighter future for children, families and communities. The challenges and critical importance of advancing this mission is something that today's guest knows very well. A respected clinician and public sector leader, Patrick McCarthy joined the Foundation in 1994 to manage a five-year, $20 million effort to provide high-quality, community-based mental health services to children in high-poverty communities.

Fortunately for us, Patrick's career at Casey extended far beyond that five-year mark. He went on to hold positions of increasing responsibility, all devoted to improving human-services practices and policies to boost results for kids and families. Then in 2010, Patrick was named the Foundation's president and CEO, a role that he has used to realize — among other things — a fairer and safer juvenile justice system and a more family-focused child welfare system.

After 25 years at the Foundation and nine years at its helm, Patrick has announced his intent to retire at the end of 2018; and I have the honor of following in his footsteps and serving as Casey's next president and CEO. It's an exciting period of change for both of us — and for the Foundation. And for just a little bit longer I can say this, so I will: Welcome, Patrick.

Patrick McCarthy:
Thank you Lisa. And let me just start by saying how excited I am to have you stepping into the role of president and CEO. It makes it much easier for me to step away from a place that I love.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well thank you so much. I am delighted to be able to follow in your amazing footsteps and appreciate the opportunity I've had to work with you for so long.

So, we get that opportunity to talk about what's going on with kids and families, what's happened over your time at the Foundation and a bit about your leadership there. So why don't we start by talking about the nation's kids and families. You arrived at the Foundation about 25 years ago, how have things changed for kids since then?

Patrick McCarthy:
Well on a lot of measures, kids are doing better than they were 25 years ago. Teen pregnancy is way down. Substance abuse appears to be down for the most part; less juvenile crime than we had 25 years ago. Graduation rates from high school are better. College enrollment is higher. Health coverage is better. So, on some measures, kids are doing better than they were 25 years ago, and that's encouraging. Kids are making better choices than they did.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
On the other hand, there's considerably more economic volatility and families are less financially secure than they were 25 years ago, which has a huge impact on children. We've seen that the importance of education and especially postsecondary education and skill gathering, as well as early work experience, is more important than it ever was. And so, we are also seeing unfortunately a higher rate of what we call disconnection — that is young people in their teens and 20s who are neither in school nor in the workforce — as the requirements for joining the workforce have gone up.

And then the other changes that I think we're all familiar with, especially those of us who have kids. Twenty-five years ago, the internet was hardly a thing. Smartphones didn't exist. Social media didn't exist, and these are huge changes in the landscape for all of us and they've had an impact on, I think, children as well.

Lisa Hamilton:
So, what do you think we still need to do as a country in order to make more progress for kids? What more do you think we need to be focused on? What do you find frustrating that's happening for kids these days?

Patrick McCarthy:
So, it's a mixed picture, right? On the positive side, again, I mentioned the upswing on some of these measures. We are seeing in some areas of government and — not all areas — but what we see in some areas of government — especially at the state level — much more interest in trying to use what works to help kids and families’ lives be better, more use of evidence, more use of data.

Twenty-five years ago, there was a strong sense that nothing worked in juvenile justice and, to a certain extent, in child welfare. That families, if they were in trouble, there wasn't much you could do to turn things around. And with careful research and lots of dissemination of successful programs, we now know much more than we did 25 years ago about what it takes to support families. So, I think that's on the positive side.

I think the persistent problem that we have seen — at best — uneven progress is the divides in our country, the multiple divides. It think the bedrocks or the fault lines of those divides run through issues of race and ethnicity, and the tendency, I think in many countries but we, in this country seem to have difficulty getting past a tendency to try to identify people who are different in some way, who we believe are different, or who we may have disagreement with. Or we may be because of stories we tell ourselves, we convince ourselves we should be afraid. To demonize, to the term "other" — make them the other and somehow hold them up as the cause of our problems, even though our problems have many, many different kinds of causes.

So that deep vein of racial hatred, in some cases, distrust in other cases, and just lack of understanding, that permeates not only in our day-to-day discourse, or day-to-day lives, and individual experiences of racism, which are of course are incredibly painful, but we've allowed it to seep into how we think about policy, how we think about what we as a country, what we as a community, ought to be able to do, so that everybody has a fair opportunity and everybody has a chance. Those stories we tell ourselves about race, and the stories we tell ourselves about people who are different from us, mean that people are less likely to support what are really some commonsense solutions that we otherwise could take. And I find that immensely frustrating and incredibly painful.

The other-

Lisa Hamilton:
Could I ask you if-

Patrick McCarthy:
Sure.

Lisa Hamilton:
... you have thoughts about what might help us get beyond that as country?

Patrick McCarthy:
One is, we, even those of us who may consider ourselves progressive, we've tended to define issues of race around what the folks are actually the victims of the racism ought to be doing differently. Even those of us who, I think, have good intensions and try to think proactively, there's been a tendency to sort of make it an African-American problem or a Latino problem or Native American problem, or an Asian American problem and at its core, racism is a white problem. There's just no question, if you look at history with an objective eye, that the roots of racism and how it has played out are deeply a white problem.

And so, one thought, is that those of us who are identified as white really have a different kind of obligation, if we believe in racial equity and we really believe deeply in inclusion. It's really up to us to speak out in a different kind of way and maybe help others of us who are white start to examine some of the assumptions. So that's one thought.

I see that happening a bit more, and it's my deep hope that as that hopefully spreads and becomes more commonly understood as the responsibility of folks who want to see change, that we will also work harder to ensure that groups at that have been marginalized or othered or whatever, that representatives of those groups, have an opportunity to not only just come to the table but to set the table, be the head of the table, set the terms of dialog and those of us who are white and held lots of positions of power and influence for generation after generation, will be smart enough to take a step back and listen. So that's like one strain of thought.

The other is, you know, I have four adult kids and I know ... listen to how they speak and who they hang out with and their friends etc., and I have to say that I have a lot of hope for the generations coming up from behind us. It's clear that this is a country that's on its way to becoming a majority-minority country, that is the white folks will be in the minority by 2050, I think the workforce by 2030, that's right around the corner.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And my hope is that, that will also help to change things. I think some of the turmoil we go through, we're going through right now, the rise of more explicit expressions of racial hatred and violence is perhaps a sign of people recognizing that things are changing. So, in the some of the worse days I try to tell myself, yes but this is a horrible thing that's happened that is a symptom of the fact that things are changing, and they will continue to change hopefully for the better. But not going to be able to be glib about that, this is deep, and it is work. Exactly. Yeah.

Lisa Hamilton:
Yeah, yeah. That gives me an opportunity to ask you about a leadership role you played in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray incident. I saw you step up and become a leader in Baltimore at an extraordinarily important time in the city's history after a very painful racial incident. Could you talk a bit about what you thought your responsibility was following that incident and how you tried to help the Foundation play a leadership role in the city at that time?

Patrick McCarthy:
I think it's fair to say that the Foundation, from the time we first moved to Baltimore in 1994, has attempted to play a positive role in Baltimore and obviously we're a national Foundation. Most of our work is in other cities and other places. But from the early days, there was careful thought about how a Foundation with our assets and with staff that live in Baltimore — what role we should play. I think we did okay. I think we did well. We certainly invested heavily in certain areas and cities and certain projects. But I think we never, until the death of Freddy Gray, I don't think we ever reached as deeply into Baltimore City as a whole and in neighborhoods beyond East Baltimore where the East Baltimore Development Initiative is.

So other than the EBDI, we did not have, not only did not have deep but it really have relationships with a lot of groups from West Baltimore and, certainly for a Foundation that focuses on kids and families, and young people, we didn't have close relationships, ongoing relationships with young people in Baltimore. So, this really came from Casey's staff to be clear. I mean I asked the question, but they came with the answer, folks who live in Baltimore said, "You know, the Foundation isn't understood or known in many neighborhoods across Baltimore and the Foundation doesn't understand many neighborhoods across Baltimore." And I think that was a real missing piece of our work.

And so, as staff, again, who live in Baltimore, pressed for us to think differently about how we do our work, we began to engage young people in a different way and hopefully become more accessible as an organization. Now I should quickly say for 20-some years, we had been providing grants to organizations throughout Baltimore. It isn't that we weren't doing anything, but I don't think we were as attentive to the importance of a deeper understanding of the day-to-day lives of young people in Baltimore and what they say we need. I think as I prepare to walk out the door and as you prepare to take the role, I think we've got a lot to do ahead of us, not only in Baltimore but in Atlanta and other places to continue to build those relationships and to be affected by folks.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well I think one of the things that you lifted up during that time, there was a lot of focus the police, and about community, police relationships, but you I think helped redefine what the issue was and really refocused the city around young people. Could you say more about why you thought engaging young people was so important? Because I thought you helped the city really recognize that there were a group of young people who really felt left out, and our real work needed to be on helping them connect to opportunities in the city.

Patrick McCarthy:
Yeah, understandably, most of the attention was on the last 24 hours of Freddie Gray's life. And, of course, a lot of attention on the last few years of police-community relationships. But Freddie Gray was 25 years old, and you know the challenges he faced didn't start a couple years before his final interaction with police. It didn't start with his own birth 25 years ago. They didn't 25 years before that. So, I think our perspective was, if you really look at the history of Baltimore, as well as many other cities, but the history of Baltimore, and what it took to get us to the place where so many young people in East Baltimore and West Baltimore had lost any sense of hope, any sense of connection to opportunity, any sense that Baltimore was a place where they could be successful…unless we understood that trajectory, then it was difficult to imagine that we'd be able to be helpful and setting a different trajectory, right?

So, that really was, I think, our take, as we thought about what's Casey's long-term investment. We commissioned a study where there is lots of conversations with young people and the one quote from the report that came out from a young person, said, "You know Baltimore's a setup city. We're set up to fail. The whole system is stacked against us." And that term, that set up city, you know it just ought not be like that, right?

Lisa Hamilton:
Right, right.

They ought to be setting them up to succeed.

Patrick McCarthy:
Exactly.

Lisa Hamilton:
Why are we setting them up to fail? Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
Exactly right. And so, the work of organizations like Baltimore's Promise, which is… looks at from prenatal actually but all the way through school and then connection to work and to success, that notion of let's think about a cradle to career system of supporting young people is where our thinking went.

Lisa Hamilton:
We've talked a bit about how young people have been doing over the last 25 years, why don't we talk a little bit about Casey and what the Foundation was like when you got here 25 years ago and how you think our work has evolved.

Patrick McCarthy:
So, it's interesting. The Foundation had been headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, before moving to Baltimore, and I joined, along with a cohort of folks who were hired around the same time, when the Foundation moved here. And I was among the cohort that took the total number of staff to 50, and we’re now 200. But the folks who had been here before that move couldn't believe that there were 50 people now working at Casey. And I still remember, I attended a staff retreat, which was actually before my first day in the office.

And Doug announced, Doug Nelson my predecessor, the CEO at the time, announced with great excitement and fan fair that in the next year, the Casey Foundation would pass $1 billion in assets and now we're close to $3 billion. So it was of course a smaller place back then.

I think in terms of the work, what I find interesting is in the earliest days of Doug Nelson's presidency when which was a time when the Foundation was, its endowment was starting to grow quickly, we launched something called New Futures. And New Futures focused on young people, on adolescents and essentially had this notion that you could convene a collaborative, and that collaborative from different parts of the city, these various cities were going to work with the education sector and child welfare and juvenile justice but also business and government and churches, etc., could come together and sort of figure out how to help young people do better.

So that was an initiative that had some success but was generally considered not to have been very successful overall. There were lots of lessons learned which is Foundation talk for it didn't work the way you hoped it would but at least-

Lisa Hamilton:
But you got something.

Patrick McCarthy:
... yeah, at least you won't do it the same way again. And so, you learned something. But by the time I got to the Foundation in 94, the Foundation strategy had evolved into these multimillion-dollar, multi-site, multi-year initiatives that were, what we called entry-point initiatives. And what that meant was, rather than trying to change an entire system all at once, to go in and say, "So what's the thing that if you change that it might make other things change?" So, in juvenile justice, it was detention.

Lisa Hamilton:
Okay.

Patrick McCarthy:
We could've focuses on probation, we could've focused on incarceration, could have focused on different kinds of alternatives, could have focused on the courts etc.  The decision was made to focus on that period of time after a young person is picked up and accused of something but has not yet had a hearing. And in many instances, is held in locked detention. So that was an entry point.

In child welfare, foster care was the entry point. And in reproductive health, it was focused on already active, sexually-active adolescents in Plain Talk. So we launched from '92 roughly 1992 to roughly 1995 over that three-year period, we launched like six or seven of these huge, huge in a sense of, you know, each was in four or five cities, each individual site got anywhere from a half million to a million dollars per year for that period of time and it was meant to least five years, and this was at the time in the Foundation world like very, very unusual.

So that's some of the things that we're going on. The other thing is that within my first couple of weeks the first meeting of something it was called a staff formed committee called Race, Culture, and Power, I believe RCP. I think it was Race, Culture, and Power which subsequently became Respect and Respect is the staff driven organization within the Foundation that helps to push the foundation to pay attention to issues around race and ethnicity, sexual preference, a gender identity, a whole list of issues. So, I still remember that very first meeting how excited people were and how many people showed up. It was like virtually everybody showed up for the first several meetings of that group so that was going on.

Lisa Hamilton:
Over time, how do you think the Foundation's work has evolved? You've obviously been a catalyst in helping us focus more on the issues of racial equity but other ways that you think the Foundation has changed in its approach. I don't know how much policy work we were doing back in the early days and if you have seen that evolution overtime, but how have you seen our work change?

Patrick McCarthy:
I think it's changed a lot. I mean at first, I joked about lessons learned is what you say when initially it doesn't work out the way you thought it should but actually, I think we did learn a lot from those early initiatives. We launched a huge initiative, Making Connections, from which we learned a lot about-

Lisa Hamilton:
Even taking on neighborhood work which wasn't a part of our initiative-

Patrick McCarthy:
That's right. That's right. Yeah we-

Lisa Hamilton:
... efforts.

Patrick McCarthy:
... had launched Rebuilding Communities which was sort of like the other initiatives but it was in five places and it was just kind of in its first or second year when I joined the Foundation. But based on Rebuilding Communities and some the systems were the notion of Making Connections was how do we bring everything we know together in some places we started with 22 cities.

Lisa Hamilton:
It's a lot of places.

Patrick McCarthy:
It's a lot of places and then over time, it whittled down to about seven but that was when I think we got much more sophisticated about partnering because part of the whole Making Connections work was to identify national organizations that would support the themes of Making Connections, places like United Way, Big Brothers, Big Sisters etc., as well as policy advocacy groups like the policy membership groups like National Governance Association, National Conference of State Legislators.

But at the same time, Mike Laracy, who recently retired, but Mike Laracy began to build a network of inside the beltway policy think tanks and advocacy groups and centers. And we began, through Mike, some very strategic grant-making and built up that kind of network of organizations that could not only carry Casey messages but also could inform Casey's thinking about what we ought to be doing and had a lot of success in a number of really critical areas like Earned Income Tax Credit, for example and budget policies etc.

We had a network of KIDS COUNT grantees, one in every state, but they were primarily just doing a data work and producing data. And it was my thought when I first came into this role that we were missing a way of thinking about them is our kind of retail outlets of Casey ideas, as well as missing the opportunity to learn from them about what was going on at the state level, which is part of why I hired you

Lisa Hamilton:
Thanks.

Patrick McCarthy:
... to come in and help us think about how you make that sort of vague general thought into something real and that's the wonderful work that you and your team did to strengthen that network and to support them and doing their policy and their advocacy work and their communications work.

And so between that and the State Priority Partnerships, which is another network of state-level folks, you know you build a very strong network across the entire country and in every state of analysts and thinkers and communicators and policy advocates on behalf of kids. And at the same time, over time, we ramped up our work with places like the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislators, all those civic partners, all the groups that Mike had been working with, by kind of pulling them altogether under your leadership, I think we got much more sophisticated about how we do that.

We had ... I think we did well with our communication strategy in the early years. We had some really terrific people working on it but we didn't have a very strong and robust team just in terms of numbers, in terms of sophistication, and again under your leadership, our communications work got much, much more sophisticated, and we got much more strategic about using the KIDS COUNT brand for example using the Casey brand, putting out more policy briefs, more data briefs, which I think enabled us to up our credibility and reputation so that as we get more and more into today's age of social media, we've sort of, the old saying about punching above your weight, but we've actually had more impact than one would expect just for the resources that we have. So, I think that's been a really exciting thing to watch.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well thanks. Before we get off of sort of changes at Casey, I would like for you to talk about the sort of intersection of the issues that Casey works on. Some folks may not know why we do child welfare plus juvenile justice plus economic opportunity plus community change.

Patrick McCarthy:
This is always a tough balance, so you don't want to be doing so many things you're not really doing much in any one area so that's tension on the one side, is how do you find focus and how do you find the niche that you can contribute to?

On the other hand, given the expertise we have on staff and especially among our networks of grantees and others, given the credibility we've built up as folks who understands kids and families and KIDS COUNT which looks at all aspects of child well-being. There are lots of opportunities for Casey to make a difference in different parts a family or child's life, right? So, whether it's health or whether it's of a family struggling in child welfare or economic opportunity, we do have something to say and so, sort of balancing those tensions is a critical part I think of the CEO's job to keep it alive.

When I first came in, I was concerned that we were considerably siloed and there was a way that when you went down the different things that Casey was doing it sounded more like a menu a very different dishes rather than-

Lisa Hamilton:
A meal?

Patrick McCarthy:
... a meal like one meal and so it's when I actually first started with what I thought was something people could easily remember the three P's of permanency, poverty, and place as a way of saying these are the things that unite us and then over time recognize that that was very much inside Casey and may not communicate to the outside world again with the help of folks like you. And that's when we started to talk about family, opportunity and community, and framing it as what does a child need to be successful?

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
If our mission is a brighter future for all kids and families, what'll all kids and families need? They need a strong family, they need opportunity and they need to live in a community that supports their families. So that helped to be able to tell a narrative both internally and externally, but I think knit the work together in a better way.

Lisa Hamilton:
And I think the importance of focusing on those families that are most at risk, also, I think has become a defining character of Casey, that we really are focused on those families who are most likely to run into trouble, who are most often in crisis, and by focusing in those three areas, it enables us to pull together the kinds of supports that are going to help those families thrive ultimately.

Patrick McCarthy:
I think that's right and it's part of again... balancing that tension of trying to do everything versus focusing. We end up focusing by identifying the population that we are going to try contribute to, and it's not that we don't care about other populations, but we can't do everything.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And so what's the population were most concerned about exactly, as you said, those families that are low-income and living in communities that have concentrated poverty and whose kids are most at risk of not having the opportunity that we all want for all of our kids.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well, I'd love to pivot that conversation to leadership. As your successor, I am deeply interested in your thoughts about what you think have been your greatest contributions to the Foundation's success and your advice to me as you move toward retirement. So, first let me ask you, you know as you look back on your time as president and CEO of the Foundation, what are the things your most proud of?

Patrick McCarthy:
In terms of the long range, what I hope will be long range impact over time. First is, helping the Foundation focus more intentionally and more explicitly on issues of race, on issues of equity, on issues of inclusion. To be really clear, the Foundation has always been attentive to issues of race under Doug's leadership certainly. I mean, almost all of the work we do in the Foundation from the time I've been there disproportionately contributes to the success of young people of color, families of color, in part because they are so often the ones who, for example, involved in the juvenile justice system and disproportionately incarcerated-

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
... or whose children are removed etc. So it's not that we were starting from scratch by any means but I do you think we needed to look much more intentionally at our role in promoting equity and inclusion and thanks to the work led primarily Nonet Sykes, who just deserves almost all credit here…she and her team and the folks who supported her as well as staff at the Foundation who came to me many times and frankly pushed me in a good way just say. "You know we're not doing enough here, and we need to hear your voice etc."

So, thanks to all of their work, I think we open up opportunities for how the Foundation could be more intentional both internally in our own processes to walk our own talk as well as externally to begin to put out tools and encouragement and examples and expectations for ourselves and our partners that I think, I certainly hope will be an enduring legacy of the Foundation as the Foundation moves on.

Lisa Hamilton:
To have been here throughout that, that has been a profound shift in the way that we do our work, and as you know I had to great pleasure of working with Nonet on this work. And, I certainly think that is among the most important contribution. Your leadership and your voice, not just inside of Casey but in the field, I think of being catalytic to help lots of folks think about how to do this work differently.

Patrick McCarthy:
I certainly hope so, and you know it's been a lot of lessons learned that for me, you know a real ... and it's a continuing evolution of thinking about this difficult work.

The second thing that I hope will continue to be a focus at Casey but something that I feel good about in terms of what has already been accomplished is, frankly, putting it a stake in the ground around youth prisons.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
These adult-type institutions where we lock young people, often for not very good reason, to begin with—a lot of young people locked up whom don't need to be locked up—but in conditions that we would never want for our own child.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And so I talk about the, my child test. They just totally failed the “my child test” on every measure, and it feels like something that a foundation like Casey ought to do to be clear to the field these are unconscionably failing institutions. I call them factories of failure. And yes, we don't have all the answers of how to replace them and what to replace them with, but it's as if you had an assembly line of kids going by and somebody with a hammer hitting kids in the head and somebody saying, "We can't stop the assembly line till we figure out what else to do." I'm sorry, we are doing the equivalent in terms of the trauma that young people are experiencing and the fact that they come out more likely to continue to do harm to others less likely to be successful in life. Nobody wants that.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
You know I've talked to the victims of crime they don't want kids to come out and be more likely to hurt people. They want to see these kids turn their lives around. So, that I think has been an important piece of what I've tried to do. I mentioned, you know, building out this network of advocates, I think that will be a long ... will continue to be to pay dividends I'm sure under your leadership.

Lisa Hamilton:
I mean I think you've rightly note that some much of what supports children and family needs, happen that ... what they need, happens at the state level.

Patrick McCarthy:
That's right.

Lisa Hamilton:
And so your intentional focus on making sure we've got the right sort of support structures in advocacy at the state level to make that happen, I think is reaps dividends for millions and millions of families.

Patrick McCarthy:
And you know, I think perhaps, most importantly I feel that the senior team and the committee of managers and all of the staff, I think over the last eight or nine years, I think we've all worked to try to strengthen the organization internally, to strengthen our own capacity, to get our finances in shape, to position ourselves to continue to make a difference for a long time. And you know, frankly, I think one of the things I feel best about is leaving the institution to you.

Lisa Hamilton:
Awe, thank you. Thank you.

Patrick McCarthy:
I do. I don't think that there's I'm more important job for a CEO than making sure that you're always aware that you're not the last CEO and that, if you're smart, you'll find folks inside who have the potential to take up leadership as they grow and develop, and by the time you’re ready to step down, they're ready to step in and take the place to a whole another level.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well thank you. That's a quintessential UPS philosophy, having spent much of my professional career there. It is an organization keenly focused on leaving an institution in good hands. And so, thank you for allowing me to be a part of Casey's legacy.

Patrick McCarthy:
But of course.

Lisa Hamilton:
It is a ... So you've ... you leave me big shoes to fill, that means my last leadership question is about what advice you would give me? What would you tell me you've learned and what would you want me to think about as I take up this role?

Patrick McCarthy:
So, again these are thoughts not answers. You'll find your own of those, of course. I guess, first, you know, I followed behind Doug Nelson who was CEO for 20 years and in my view was one of the best foundation president CEOs that this country has ever seen — just deep, deep respect and admiration for Doug. So, it was pretty intimidating to imagine stepping into his shoes or even having anybody expect me to step into his shoes, and it took me a bit to recognize that I didn't need to be Doug Nelson or a Doug Nelson kind of leader. He was a different kind of leader than I would ever be. But that I ought to be the Patrick McCarthy kind of leader.

So, one piece of advice is to be the Lisa Hamilton leader. Obviously, listen to lots of folks who have advice but if you bring your strengths and are aware of your own weaknesses and so balance them out with people around you, you'll be much better than if you somehow or another have an idea in your head about how you should be, you know. That was a lesson that took a little bit of time to ...  for me kind of settle in.

Related to that, just constant development of your team, and this is another UPS thing, but I think it's a Casey thing as well. Constant development of the senior leadership team, of the committee of managers, of the senior associates, of staff at every level, that recognizing that the more energy you put into developing them and giving them opportunities to do things that will expand their strengths, just so multiplies your leadership leverage because they're so critical to that.

And then I guess the last thought is again took me awhile. I don't think it'll take you as long. I think you're already there, but it took me awhile, to recognize the opportunities that the position grants to in some ways lend your voice or to use that position—use those opportunities—to bring attention to the folks who don't have the opportunity to ...  they don't have the microphone in front of them, right?

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And I, in my early years, kind of down played that part of it and I said, "Well you know I'm not a great public speaker and nobody really cares what the president of Casey thinks anyway, and it's better the grantee should be speaking and some of our internal subject matter experts." And, so, I was a little bit, shy is the wrong word, but reluctant to step up to the public-facing part of the role. And it was only in the last few years that I sort of realized that, "Oh, like you don't have to be a great speaker, they still care what you have to say."

Lisa Hamilton:
Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And there are things you can say that lots of folks would love to be able to say, and you need to speak up for their point of view. It's not just you. It's really not just what you think, but it's ideas, or perspectives that are not often brought to the table. And that is a huge privilege, but it's also a huge responsibility to step up to that. As I say, you're already doing that so, this isn't new news for you, but it took me a while to settle into that part of the role.

Lisa Hamilton:
For this awesome advice to remember, so I heard be myself, I heard build others, and be bold and use my voice.

Patrick McCarthy:
Exactly.

Lisa Hamilton:
That's good advice, that I will absolutely take to heart.

So, as we close out this interview, you have spent so much of your life devoted to helping children and families succeed, and I wonder what you think is going to take to make kids count in this country?

Patrick McCarthy:
Yeah, well that's a really tough, tough question. So, I guess I start with the importance of listening to the young people themselves because we often assume, we know what young people need or how they see the world and, sometimes, we are more experienced, and it certainly is the case that we often have a broader view and perhaps a more informed view of what the possibilities are. But having said that if we don't really listen to young people will be solving the wrong problems.

Lisa Hamilton:
Right. Right.

Patrick McCarthy:
And we'll be missing the opportunity to them to develop and for them to ... even if they've and I put it in quotes, "Wrong", you know wrong in the sense that they may not have all the information and they so they're reaching a conclusion that really isn't as informed as it ought to be. Nevertheless, they'll figure that out if we give them the opportunity instead of shoving them aside. So that's one of the things, if we're going to make kids count, we have to make kids heard, so that's critical piece of that.

I think the Foundation's work, and hopefully more foundations will do this as well, the work on civic engagement, that is recognizing who are the folks in the country who are the combination of most at risk of being cut off from opportunity and least likely to have their voices heard? How do we increase their civic engagement at every level? So, whether that's participating in community activities, but also in voting.

Lisa Hamilton:
Political life.

Patrick McCarthy:
Yeah. And political life, again, add at every level, at the community level, at the city level, at the state level, federal level. And I think that's an important part of making kids count.

You know, as the Boomers retire, my generation retires, and as we look at the workforce and demands ahead, the hope is that we will again, get to where this country has been sometimes in the past, we recognize, "Oh, we're not investing enough in children." You know when we said we do have educate all kids, and then we should have mandatory education through 16, at the time. Maybe we'll get back to the place again.

Lisa Hamilton:
Good. Well I think that's wonderful advice. We need to listen and we need to empower families and young people to lead and we have to ensure everybody's at the table as we make decisions.

And I think you're a leader who has worked so hard to make all three of those things happen throughout your career and so on behalf of so many folks, those who have the joy of working with you, and just those who have benefited from your hard work, and efforts and leadership, thank you for everything you have done at The Annie E. Casey Foundation and in your other roles in the nonprofit and public sectors.

Thank you for that and thank you for all that you leave me at the Foundation. I'm looking so forward to new horizons ahead of me but know that I have the pleasure of the wisdom and friendship of folks like you beside me. Thanks.

Patrick McCarthy:
Oh well thank you Lisa. And I can't wait to see what you're going to do.

Lisa Hamilton:
Well thank you. Well thank you so much for joining me today on CaseyCast, Patrick and thank you for all you've done to strengthen the Foundation and its impact over these last 25 years. The difference that you have made in this role is inspiring, undeniable, and to so many children and parents across the nation, life changing. So I wish the very best in your retirement. You have earned it.

I also want to thank you, our listeners, for joining us today. If you've enjoyed today's conversation, please rate our show on Apple Podcast to help others find us. You can ask questions and leave us feedback on Twitter by using the CaseyCast hash tag.

To learn more about Casey and the work of our guest, you can find our show notes at AECF.org/podcast. Until next time, I wish all of America's kids and all of you a bright future.