Arms Wide Adoption Services families, friends, and supporters:
My name is DeJuana Jernigan, and I am honored and excited to join Arms Wide Adoption Services as the new President and CEO. As I begin my journey with you, I want to first thank Vikki Finley. For the last 22 years, Vikki has worked tirelessly with the organization. Together, you all have built a an organization with a good reputation and solid financial foundation. I know that following in Vikki’s shoes is going to be a monumental task, but with your input, participation, and support, Arms Wide Adoption Services has a bright future ahead.
I would also like to thank the Arms Wide Adoption Services Board of Directors for this leadership opportunity. I recognize I have a lot to learn, but I am committed to investing the time and attention to making sure I get to know and understand the Arms Wide Adoption Services family, culture, and various ways in which we provide services.
You may be wondering, “What does this change mean for Arms Wide Adoption Services?” I would like to assure you this change means a continuation of the great transformational work which is already happening at Arms Wide Adoption Services. You may also be wondering, “Who exactly is DeJuana Jernigan?” Well, I am a long-time child advocate with more than 20 years of experience in this field. I began my journey in child welfare as a Child Protective Services worker in San Antonio. After continuing that work in Corpus Christi, I returned to Houston, my hometown, to pursue a graduate degree in social work. I tried my hand at other roles in juvenile justice, child care, domestic violence, and home and community based services for individuals with development disabilities.
However, I always felt called and compelled to return to the foster care and adoption field. I have spent the last 15+ years consistently advocating and providing services for children and families through foster care and adoption. I have spent the last 13 years in a leadership role at another child placing agency where I provided oversight of operations for foster care, adoption, post adoption, mental health, and residential treatment services in various cities throughout Texas. I am honored to bring those years of experience to Arms Adoption Services, so we can continue the tradition of providing excellent, person-centered support and advocacy.
I cannot complete this letter without expressing how incredibly humbled I am for this opportunity to lead an organization with a 43-year history and a deep commitment to transforming the lives of children in need. I also know that without you, none of this would be possible. Thank you for all you have done to help continue this work. I look forward to our travels together on this journey as we continue to grow and strengthen this organization, so we can continue to transform the lives of children in need for many years to come.
DeJuana S. Jernigan, MSW
President and CEO