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Houghton Takes Over Leadership at Juvenile Welfare Board

Beth Houghton | Pinellas Juvenile Welfare Board | JWB

She succeeds Dr. Marcie Biddleman, who retired in September after a decade-long tenure with the JWB.

CLEARWATER – After a unanimous vote of approval by the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, Beth A. Houghton was appointed and began her tenure as the organization’s new chief executive officer on Oct. 1.

“We are thrilled to have Beth onboard as our new CEO,” stated JWB Board Chair Susan Rolston who also led the Board’s executive search committee efforts. “After an exhaustive national search, we were fortunate to attract an experienced Pinellas County executive who checks all the boxes: an individual passionate about JWB’s mission who possesses legal and fiscal expertise, a proven track record of organizational excellence, and a reputation for getting things accomplished.”

Houghton came to the Juvenile Welfare Board from the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, where she held the top position – first as executive director then as chief executive officer – for eight years. Under her leadership, the organization expanded its reach to eight food, shelter, and health care programs that distribute to more than 55,000 people monthly, provide free health and wellness services to about 9,000 annually, and guide another 400 on their path to independent living through shelter services.(Click here for related story.)

Houghton graduated with highest honors from Stetson University College of Law, earned her MBA with highest honors from Tulane University Graduate School of Business in New Orleans, and her BA with honors in Economics and Political Science from Newcomb College of Tulane University. Ms. Houghton is licensed to practice law in Florida and served as chair of the Board of Directors for Signature Bank in St. Petersburg. Her previous employment includes serving as chief financial officer and general counsel of John’s Hopkins All Children’s Health System.

“The Juvenile Welfare Board has always been known for shaping the future of our county’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” Houghton said. “I have always been passionate about improving the lives of our children, both because they are the innocent who cannot control their circumstances and because, as a society, improving children’s lives today and into the future is simply a smart investment. So, coming to the JWB to work with our board, staff, and community organizations was an easy choice for me. I knew I could come to work every day and really make a difference in the trajectory of our community.”

In her role as CEO, Houghton will oversee an annual program and general government budget of about $79.3 million and a workforce of 62, while ensuring policies set forth by the JWB Governing Board are effectively implemented. She will serve as the nexus between the JWB Board and day-to-day operations of the organization, and advance and oversee accountability systems and measurements to ensure effective use of the community’s investments. In her leadership role, she will advocate for children’s issues and under-served families. She will create strategic partnerships and oversee the funding of high-quality programs that benefit tens of thousands of Pinellas County children and families annually.

“Beth is someone who has dedicated her entire life to giving back,” Rolston said. “It’s important that we have a champion for children and families, like Beth, in our top leadership position.”

Houghton has taken numerous mission trips to rural Honduras and serves on the Board for the Foundation for International Missions which supports a rural health clinic. She also serves as chair of the Hospital Board of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. Previously, Houghton served as board president for Great Explorations, the Houghton-Wagman Children’s Museum, and she has received numerous awards for community service and leadership. She has three adult children, three grandchildren, and is raising two grandchildren.

“Beth embodies the entire package,” Rolston said. “All of her attributes, combined with her experience developing and using impact measures and metrics, will serve us well as we prepare to sunset our current strategic plan, and adopt a new one in 2021.”

Houghton succeeded Dr. Marcie Biddleman, who retired in September after a decade-long tenure with the organization.

The Pinellas JWB was created by a Special Act of the Florida Legislature in 1945, approved overwhelmingly by Pinellas County voters in 1946, and reauthorized in 1990.

As a countywide special taxing district, JWB responsibly directs the community’s investments to give Pinellas County children the best opportunities to lead healthy, successful, and satisfying lives. Last year, JWB invested in 49 nonprofit agencies that delivered 88 programs focused on school readiness, school success, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and strengthening community. These investments served more than 66,000 Pinellas County children and their families. JWB also leads collective initiatives with community partners to address childhood hunger, grade-level reading, and preventable child deaths.

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