ICOY Welcomes Our New Board Chair

Publisher: Andi Durbin

ICOY Board Chair: Viviane Ngwa

Viviane Ngwa is an Illinois licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years of experience in the human service field in both non-profit and for-profit arenas having led core growth and both new business development in multiple states. As a Corporate Vice President & Executive Director currently, she comes with leadership experience in Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the workplace in alignment with the provision of services to families, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and services to youth with juvenile probation involvement. She also has extensive experience in child welfare and behavioral health service structure across many states. 

Viviane was a member of the Board of Directors of the Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) and past Board President. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council on Accreditation (COA) where she served on the Standards Committee and the Board Development Committee. She has been a COA Peer Reviewer Team Leader and Hague Evaluator for many years leading numerous accreditation site visits across the United States and Canada. 

Viviane’s international experience in child welfare includes chairing the Social Work Tri-City Exchange between Chicago & Hamburg, Germany & Birmingham, England; co-chairing the Chicago & Durban, South Africa subcommittee. She was also invited by the American Embassy as a subject matter expert to lead planning discussions and presentations on deinstitutionalization and community placement options for children and adults with disabilities stepping out of state-run residential facilities in Latvia and Lithuania. 

Viviane holds a master’s degree in Social Work & a Graduate Certificate in Global Policy Studies from the University of Georgia, and currently pursuing a Ph. D in Industrial & Organizational Psychology at Adler University. 

Profile Highlight for Viviane:  

ICOY is proud to announce our new FY23 Board Chair Viviane Ngwa. Assistant Executive Director and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Co-Chair Sarah Daniels interviewed Viviane and focused on the impact Viviane’s new role will mean for the growing work of intentional equity practices and aligning those values with our member organizations and external stakeholders. Please find the following answers that Viviane provided:  

As ICOY continues to actively seeks ways to grow, we are proud to have you as the first board chair who is not only black but also a black woman. What does this mean to you and how does this moment have the potential to grow ICOY’s equitable lens in the future? 

  • This speaks to the maturity of the organizations. It makes sense that issues of diversity take precedence in how decisions are made. I can imagine that as a growing organization, this promotes others to follow suit regarding relevance and the importance in how an organization functions.

What about ICOY excites you the most?

  • I am excited about the idea of coming together as a provider community and amplifying our voice for change to support a system that is doing so much for the community. I’m also excited about empowering decision makers around innovation and the legislative process overall.  

Can you talk a bit about the National Youth Advocate program? What are some high-level programs, services and locations that you can share for other members to know about your organization? 

  • NYAP is a multi-state organization who provides a range of services from bilingual services contract through a federal contract. We are one of the largest specialized foster care organizations, and we work with adults through contracts with DHS and with recipients dealing with homelessness and chronic mental health. We have been around for the last 45 years.  

How long have you been in the role of Executive Director?  

  • I have been in this space for more than 20 years and prior to, I served in Illinois, but in this role for the last 8 years.  

Can you share a little more about your background? What brings you to this work?  

  • What brought me to this space is the work and exposure that the United Nations made me more aware of. It also encourages social work on a macro-system level. I have served on national boards and consulted around family issues and with my experience in leading delegations, I also enjoy the legislative process that comes with it.  

I understand you are working toward your Ph.D. Can you tell us a little about that?  

  • Yes, I am getting my Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Development, which derived from my interest in workplace structure and ensuring that the workplace fosters psychological safety of the employees!

We are all looking forward to working with the Board of Directors under Viviane’s leadership, and I am especially looking forward to learning from her experience and knowledge of how to build and sustain effective organizations. In addition, I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Gary Huelsmann, our Immediate Past Chair, who helped to shepherd our organization through the merger with the Child Care Association of Illinois, as we have grown over the past 5 years.  

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