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Looking for Adoptions Together or FamilyWorks Together? New name, same us. Here’s why!

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Meet Our New, Incoming CEO: Lisa Dominguez!

Lisa Dominguez Headshot

In May 2024, Lisa Dominguez will become the new Paths for Families CEO. She first joined the agency in 2006 as a contract social worker, completing home studies, post-placements and providing clinical services in our Washington, DC office. She left after two years and returned in January 2022 as the Chief Program Officer. As longtime founder and CEO Janice Goldwater began to contemplate her retirement, it quickly became apparent the depth and breadth of Lisa’s experience and her positive leadership style would be an asset to Paths for Families at the highest level.

Lisa’s 25+ year career has centered around serving children and families, almost half of which has been spent working exclusively in the adoption, foster care, and kinship community. She has extensive leadership experience, boundless energy, and we know she has good taste because if she wasn’t doing this work, she might be working at Trader Joe’s!

Since re-joining Paths for Families in 2022, Lisa said she has learned so much from Janice and the team, and now we want you to learn more about her! Meet Lisa Dominguez:

What initially drew you to Paths for Families?

I’ve always been drawn to the agency’s mission to offer holistic support to children and families in the adoption, foster, and kinship community as well as our commitment to ethical adoption practice and inclusivity, especially as a pioneer in welcoming LGBTQ+ families who are interested in adopting.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing child and family well-being today, and how does Paths for Families aim to address them?

I think the biggest challenge is ensuring parents have the financial and emotional resources and support they need to raise their children. We know that, whenever possible, children belong in their family of origin, and when they can’t remain there, connection to family of origin is important. We also know that access to specialized, trauma-informed mental health services is limited due to financial barriers and a lack of trained clinicians.

Paths for Families addresses these issues in several ways, including:

  1. Providing all-options counseling for all the expectant parents with whom we work
  2. Promoting open adoption, which allows for post-adoption contact and connection
  3. Partnering with Baltimore City Department of Social Services to provide Family Find services so youth in care can find permanency with their families of origin and fictive kin
  4. Offering FREE specialized, trauma-informed therapy and parent support groups to Maryland families

What about Paths for Families’ team culture stuck out to you when you joined?

I continue to be struck by how authentically our team cares about the clients whom we serve and about the work we do. Our team is deeply committed to one another as well, ensuring we take care of ourselves along the way.

Can you share an innovative idea or strategy you’re excited to implement to enhance the impact of our programs?

I would love to continue to expand our work around family well-being, helping to ensure that children are raised in their families of origin whenever possible. I would also like to incorporate the voices of those with lived experience in this space to strengthen existing initiatives and explore new program opportunities.

Is there a personal story or experience that drives your passion for helping children and families?

I’ve had many people over the years say to me: “I don’t know how you can do what you do!” My answer has always been that the work is hard, but I have the privilege and honor of helping children and families heal. Most of my career has involved providing therapy to children and families impacted by trauma. I see kids get better and families grow stronger. Supporting children and families has always been my passion and knowing the impact of my work and the work of my colleagues lasts well beyond our last session/meeting/phone call continues to drive all that I do.

Last summer, I received a call from a former client with whom I had worked for several years while she was in high school. She left me a voicemail saying she was sitting in her dorm room, getting ready to start her freshman year of college. She wanted me to know she and her mom were doing really well, and she thanked me for all I had done to help her and her family.

We work with so many valuable community partners. What are some of the key stakeholders you’re looking forward to working more directly with?

Our local child welfare departments are such crucial partners, and I look forward to working more directly with those teams to enhance and expand our current collaborations and partnerships. I’m also excited about engaging with organizations at the state and national level to continue to advocate for ethical adoption practices and legislation that supports the needs of the adoption, foster care, and kinship communities.

What is one goal you’d love to see come to fruition for Paths for Families?

I would love to establish a scholarship fund that could increase access to our services for folks for which cost may be a barrier (and who aren’t covered under any of our contracts).

Now, we are going to move into more of a lightning round and ask you some fun questions, so get ready!

Is there a book that has significantly influenced your professional or personal life that you would recommend?

There are so many books that have impacted me both personally and professionally, but two that stand out are Dibs in Search of Self: The Renowned, Deeply Moving Story of an Emotionally Lost Child Who Found His Way Back by Virginia Axline and My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.

How about your favorite “for fun” book?

There are many, but one of my most recent favorites is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities outside of work that help you unwind and relax?

Spending time outside hiking and walking keeps me sane. I also LOVE a great HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout, baking, reading, and podcasts.

Do you have a hidden talent or a surprising hobby that most people don’t know about?

I was a fitness instructor in the ‘90s and early 2000s as a side hustle. Loved step aerobics!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Italy, Spain, and Greece are at the top of my list!  I’m drawn to the history, natural beauty, and the FOOD!

What is your favorite meal to cook or your favorite cuisine to enjoy?

I love Asian cuisine, especially sushi and Thai food.

If you weren’t working in this field, what alternate career path might you have chosen?

I’ve always secretly wanted to host the Today Show (or work at Trader Joe’s) 😊.

Guilty pleasure? (Could be anything!)

Dark chocolate! Can’t get through the day without it.

Music! What do you listen to when you need to boost your mood or get inspired?

80s music is my go to! U2 is my all-time favorite band and always puts me in a good mood.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I feel so honored to have been selected as Paths for Families’ next CEO and am excited about what lies ahead!