Track: Safety and Security
Commitment: Investing in Capacity
North Star: Commitment to Outcomes

Level of Learning: Doer

This facilitated panel showcases an innovative public-private partnership focused on strengthening the organizational capacity of New York City’s nonprofit preventive and foster care agencies across a set of key domains in an effort to better position the provider agency network for improving outcomes for the vulnerable children and families they serve. The panel will be comprised of a diverse blend of speakers contributing to this collaboration, including a representative from New York City-Administration for Children’s Services (NYC-ACS) senior leadership, the foundation funding this effort (Casey Family Programs), the research and capacity-building partner providing technical guidance and expertise (Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago), and a nonprofit agency executive engaged as a key partner throughout the process (Graham-Windam).

The session is carefully designed to engage session participants in an exciting presentation and dialogue about NYC-ACS' efforts to integrate organizational capacity domains such as strategic leadership, organizational structure, and process management into its collaborative quality improvement process with its nonprofit partners; create and deploy a meaningful organizational self-assessment tool; and use the findings to inform agency decision-making regarding where to invest critical resources and what additional capacity building strategies would be most impactful. Participants will also be able to hear directly about what this experience has been like from the provider agency perspective, including the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for enhancement.

In addition to learning about the methods and approaches deployed in New York City, participants will be afforded the opportunity to critically assess their own agencies’ capacity in select domains and share their experiences applying the ACS organizational self-assessment tool within their agency context. The facilitated discussion will include information sharing regarding ACS’ efforts and strategies to build capacity across identified areas of need within its provider network, along with brainstorming with session participants about what additional strategies and topics might yield demonstrable improvements in the nonprofit sector’s ability to effectively design and execute a strategic plan, assess performance, design and implement improvement strategies, and monitor progress towards improving critical safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the eight domains of organizational capacity that NYC-ACS has moved towards assessing and improving within their partnering network of provider agencies and the collaborative process by which the NYC approach was developed
  • Discuss the key organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement that were discovered in the NYC provider community through the self-assessment process and how the findings have been used to inform ACS decision-making and investment of resources
  • Understand ways to consider thinking about and assessing organizational capacity, along with ideas for how to build the capacity to develop a strategic plan


  • Krista A. Thomas, policy fellow, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (@Chapin_Hall)
  • Camelia Anders, assistant commissioner of the division of policy planning and measurement, New York City Administration for Children's Services
  • Bonnie Kornberg, chief performance officer, Graham-Windam
  • Melissa Baker, strategic consultant, Casey Family Programs

Krista A. Thomas
Policy Fellow
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Krista Thomas is a Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall. She leads blended teams of policy, practice, and research experts in efforts to build the capacity of human service systems to execute large-scale reform initiatives and improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Leveraging opportunities like the federal Title IV-E waiver authority, Thomas partners with human service leaders to identify a set of priority outcomes, articulate a set of strategies to improve performance, execute their implementation, and monitor their effectiveness. Her areas of expertise include federal child welfare policy, programs, and monitoring; large-scale child welfare performance improvement; strategic planning; evidence use in decision-making; implementation; continuous quality improvement; and differential response.

Prior to Chapin Hall, Thomas served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau in both regional and national offices. As a federal child welfare specialist, she monitored and supported numerous states in both federally-mandated and state-driven child welfare program improvement efforts, strategic planning, and implementation of evidence-based practices.

Thomas holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a master's in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor's from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

Camelia Anders
Assistant Commissioner, Division of Policy Planning and Measurement
New York City Administration for Children's Services

Camelia Anders began her child welfare career in 1998 with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (NYC-ACS) as a child protective specialist within the Division of Child Protection. Over the years, she ascended the ranks as a supervisor, staff trainer, and director of field operations, managing the daily operations of child protective services. In 2008, she left New York to assume the role of program administrator within the Division of Child Protection Services for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency.

Anders currently holds the title of assistant commissioner for agency program assistance within the Division of Policy, Planning, and Measurement at NYC-ACS. In this role, she provides an infrastructure of support and resources through collaborative work with contracted agencies citywide. Through the work of her team, Anders supports child welfare agencies on the development and implementation of continuous quality improvement plans, the identification of practice strengths and challenges, and has oversight for the development and implementation of the ACS Safe Measures dashboard scheduled to launch in Summer 2018.

Anders has a master's of public administration from the City University of New York at John Jay College and a bachelor's in criminal justice from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Bonnie Kornberg
Chief Performance Officer

Bonnie Kornberg has worked with Graham-Windham since 2007 and is now the chief performance officer. In this role, she leads the program performance and planning team responsible for program evaluation, strategic planning, new program development, performance improvement, policies and procedures, learning and practice proficiency, foundation fundraising, and major gifts.

Previously, at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Kornberg researched and analyzed the performance and growth potential of youth-serving nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. Before joining the Foundation, she spent several years consulting on nonprofit organizational and program effectiveness. She has also consulted to the U.S. navy on international program management and performed management and business development functions for Anteon, Inc.

Kornberg holds a master's in business administration from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's from Tufts University.

Melissa Baker
Strategic Consultant
Casey Family Programs

Melissa Baker is a senior director of strategic consulting at Casey Family Programs. She works from the New York City office and is responsible for providing strategic consultation and technical assistance to states and local jurisdictions on child welfare system improvement, focusing on New York and leading Casey's engagement in New York City and with family court statewide.

Prior to joining Casey, Baker served in several senior staff positions with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), including special assistant to the deputy commissioner of management and planning; commissioner's chief of staff; and senior program advisor in child protection and child welfare programs.

Before joining ACS, Baker was a senior policy associate at the American Public Human Services Association and worked on child welfare policy and legislation, representing the interests of public child welfare agencies before Congress and the Administration. She also worked for the New York State Office of Federal Affairs in Washington, D.C., under Governor Mario Cuomo, advocating for the governor and state agencies on health and human services issues. She served as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Alan Cranston on health care issues and worked in corporate government affairs related to health care.