Wagner to Lead First 5 LA’s Efforts to Help Integrate and Coordinate County Services to Improve Outcomes for Young Children and Their Families
LOS ANGELES– First 5 LA, an early childhood advocacy and public grantmaking organization, today named Chief Operating Officer John Wagner as its Executive Vice President. In this new role, Wagner will be responsible for developing partnerships with Los Angeles County government officials, agencies and departments as part of First 5 LA’s new approach to working with the County to create greater impacts for young children. Wagner also will continue to oversee First 5 LA’s Administrative division.
“John is a critical leader for First 5 LA, providing oversight for the essential backbone functions that enable us to do our best work on behalf of children and families in L.A. County,” said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA. “This new role represents an evolution of his current duties, and I look forward to continue working with John to broaden our impact for kids.”
Belshé noted how the new role of Executive Vice President will lead First 5 LA’s efforts to improve outcomes for young children and their families by working with County agencies in new ways.
“County departments and agencies touch the lives of millions of families with young children,” Belshé added. “By working with County leaders to improve the coordination and integration of services and supports for families, First 5 LA, under John’s leadership, can contribute to strong families and healthy, safe and school ready children.”
The County government is comprised of 37 departments and approximately 200 committees and commissions serving nearly 10 million residents. In total, there are more than 500 political districts such as school boards, water districts, and sanitation boards that have varying responsibilities and constituencies within L.A. County.
?“John is a critical leader for First 5 LA, providing oversight for the essential backbone functions that enable us to do our best work on behalf of children and families in L.A. County” -Kim Belshé
As Executive Vice President, Wagner will be leading First 5 LA’s efforts to engage County departments, agencies, and elected officials by identifying aligned priorities, facilitating learning among Best Start community parents and County leaders, convening meetings of family serving organizations and County officials, and leveraging First 5 LA investments to address County priorities.
“I am pleased to enter this new phase of my work at First 5 LA,” said Executive Vice President John Wagner, who has prepared for his new role in recent months by meeting with L.A. County leaders to discuss and develop potential points of collaboration in order to provide better outcomes for young children. “I look forward to continuing to support our staff and talented leadership team as well as the opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with County officials and other partners in building systems and services for the benefit of children and families.”
Some of the potential areas of alignment with local government include homelessness, trauma-informed care, child welfare and protection from abuse and neglect. Wagner already has held discussions with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, the new Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection (OCP) and leaders within the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office (CEO), which is working on behalf of the County on solutions to homelessness.
Along with Executive Director Kim Belshé, Wagner will be a key leader within the five-member executive leadership team that includes several recent appointments: Kim Pattillo Brownson as Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Daniela Pineda as Vice President of Integration and Learning, and Christina Altmayer as Vice President of Programs.
This new management structure is a result of a process undertaken by the entire First 5 LA team over the past two years to strengthen the organization’s ability to effectively execute its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan and to help it become a higher performing, higher impact organization for children prenatal to age 5, their parents and caregivers. In the near future, the executive team will be naming directors for newly-created departments as well as several departments that have significantly changed their scopes of work.
Wagner’s experience with First 5 LA will be invaluable during this process. In December 2012, Wagner was named the first Chief Operating Officer of First 5 LA, overseeing all internal operations at First 5 LA under the direction of the Executive Director, including aligning the organization’s grantmaking strategies, internal capacity building, contracts, and strategic partnerships to achieve First 5 LA’s organizational priorities.
Prior to serving First 5 LA, Wagner served as Director of the California Department of Community Services and Development from 2011-2012, and Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) from 2007-2011. At CDSS, he oversaw a budget of over $20 billion and programs affecting California’s most vulnerable residents, including foster children and youth; children and families receiving aid through the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); and children and adults in state-licensed community care facilities.
Prior to coming to California, Wagner served as the Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he coordinated policies and programs across many state agencies. Additionally, he served as the state’s Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance from 2002 to 2007.
Wagner earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University.
Wagner’s appointment as Executive Vice President is effective immediately.