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BCF Names Acting Executive Director After CEO's Sudden Death
11:08AM / Friday, December 02, 2016
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Diane Robie

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Children and Families, a social services agency serving Berkshire County and the Pioneer Valley since 1887, has appointed Diane Robie to the position of acting executive director, filling the vacancy caused by the recent death of President and CEO Carolyn Mower Burns.

Robie, who was senior vice president at Berkshire Children and Families, came to BCF from Vermont in 2015, after 20 years of experience serving children, families and communities in programs that ranged from family support to child permanency.

"Carolyn had both a vision in identifying the needs of children and their families and the ability to create and administer programs committed to alleviating those problems," said Linda Conway, chairman of the BCF Board of Directors. "Because her vision was so true, she was a trusted advisor, consultant and colleague throughout the community."

When family support met child welfare years ago, Burns founded the Patch Approach, a community team practice model that brought together child protection and community-based services to enhance family resilience, caring capacities, and well-being. With her guidance, the Patch Approach took root in Massachusetts in a way that continues to evolve to this day.

In 2010, Burns led Berkshire Children and Families in taking a bold step to challenge the root causes of social obstacles facing children and families.  She believed passionately that all children and families had strengths and talents, yet not all had opportunities.

Programs such as Kids 4 Harmony, an intensive after-school music program in Pittsfield and North Adams, were developed, creating long-term opportunity and corridors of care to help children succeed in school and in life.  BCF once again enlisted families as partners in that initiative.

"With Carolyn's guidance, BCF grew from a small, singular focus agency to a multi-dimensional agency. She was a well-respected thought leader across the state," Robie said. "As an agency, we have strong values and principles guiding our actions.  They serve as our north star as we continue the work forward in collaboration with our community partners and those we serve."
Robie's expertise extends from program start-up to consulting, teaching and training. She was an instructor at the University of Vermont, conducting trainings for prospective foster and adoptive parents, and was adjunct faculty at Springfield College, teaching Masters level courses in Organizational Transformation, Human Services Delivery, and Policy and Alternatives.

While in Vermont, she was an active member in state and regional advocacy groups for foster and adoptive families.  Since moving to Pittsfield, she has become involved with a number of local initiatives including the Pittsfield Youth Commission, Berkshire Compact for Education, United Way committees, Working Cities, and other community groups.

The Board of Berkshire Children and Families has appointed a search committee to identify a permanent replacement for Burns, who died on November 16, 2016, after a brief illness.

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