Please help us welcome Jason Gortney to the Amara community as our Interim Chief Executive Officer! Jason came to Amara earlier in 2020 as our Chief Program Officer, a role he will maintain as well. We said good-bye to our former long-time CEO, John Morse, on April 17th however, gratefully, John continues on as an advisor. Jason comes to Amara with a wealth of experience in child welfare with a strong focus on supporting families impacted by poverty, systemic bias, and trauma and has spent the last 19 years at Children’s Home Society of Washington in a variety of roles, most recently as the Director of the Office of Innovation. We asked Jason a few questions so you can get to know him better!
What drew you to Amara?
I was looking for a new professional challenge after completing the Executive MBA program at the University of Washington’s Foster School last summer, and I was excited to find the opportunity to join Amara. I’ve known of Amara for many years, and the organization has had a growing reputation for offering innovative, high-quality programs and services. I was looking for an opportunity to apply my skills related to innovation and systems change to support families caught up in the child welfare system. Much of the early part of my career was spent working with kids in foster care and their families who were coping with the harmful effects of poverty, systemic bias and trauma. More recently, I’ve worked on the prevention side of human services, helping to develop new practices to support families at risk of child welfare involvement at the Children’s Home Society of Washington. I felt drawn to return to where I began my career and apply these same approaches to seek the most effective ways to support children and families to heal and thrive.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my daughter and my partner, working in the yard, cooking, reading, taking walks, playing the guitar and banjo, and watching movies.
Why are you committed to working with children in foster care, adoptees, and their families?
Experiences in my early career impressed upon me that we have a lot of work to do as a society to better support the healing and well-being of families and communities that have been impacted by poverty, systemic bias, and trauma. In one of my earliest jobs out of college, I worked directly with children and families who had experienced severe adversity, which negatively impacted their lives in so many ways, including their lifelong health and well-being. Over the years doing similar work, I became convinced that we should be doing more both to prevent serious harm and to support healing in those who have experienced it. A mountain of research makes clear that supportive relationships are key to healing. I believe Amara is on the right track in recruiting, training and supporting community members who are willing to step up to become resources to children and their families by providing foster care and becoming adoptive parents, when needed. I’m proud to be part of an organization that has the courage to look beyond the status quo to seek better ways to facilitate healing connections and supportive relationships.