#TACFSWomen Spotlight: Cynthia Smith, RISE Services, Inc.

"Women are strong, capable and committed to serve!"
~Cynthia Smith, Executive Director of RISE Services, Inc.~

Who is a woman leader/mentor in your life and what impact has she had on your life and career? 

The woman leader/mentor in my life was Dr. Carolyn Eberwein.  She was the CEO at Children’s Choice, a multi-state foster care agency with its administrative office in Philadelphia.  Dr. Carolyn was my direct supervisor for almost 20 years when I lived in Philly.  She had a huge impact on my life and career.  She moved me and my family from Arlington to Philadelphia to take a position as an adoption supervisor.  Within a month I was on the executive team of the agency and held multiple roles over the years.  She valued education as a former teacher and encouraged me to complete my doctorate degree and work full time while my son was only 3 months old!  With 6 children of her own, she was a tremendous example of the strength of a woman to be fully involved with her own children and family while being a CEO of a foster care agency and helping other children and families.  With Dr. Carolyn’s support I was able to complete my doctorate degree, hold an executive position within the agency and raise two small children!  

How did your leadership role at RISE Services develop? What is your story?

I was working with the leadership at OC-OK as a consultant on the Performance Based Care Contract.  RISE Services was selected as a contract recipient and I was offered the Executive Director position to get RISE Services Texas licensed and develop RISE PHBC services in Region 3b.  

A goal of this campaign is to shed light on the statement that "Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare." What are your thoughts on this? Can you speak into this statement on behalf of RISE Services?

I truly believe that “Women are making a difference in Texas child welfare” and as much as I’d like to say I was referring to myself and other female executives I’m really referring to the young women that choose this career path and serve as the front line staff working with children and families every day!  These young women have many more options for a career path than I did 30 years ago and to choose this challenging career over others that are available is truly the mark of a woman determined to make a difference!  Within the entire RISE organization, we have 1960 women providing services to children and families and I know without a doubt that they are making a difference and shaping lives every single day!

Have you faced challenges in your leadership role as a woman? If so how did you or are you over coming them?

I personally haven’t faced challenges in a leadership role as a woman but I am well aware of how the gender in the room has changed from predominantly females to fewer females as my career has advanced into higher executive positions.  It would be my hope that the numbers of women holding executive positions within agencies is in direct correlation to the number of women that make up our direct services and mid level management positions.