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The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet board of directors welcomes inaugural Executive Director Jill Roche Gomez.

[Left to right: City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Marc Nelson; Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Jay Rosser; Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil; Jill Roche Gomez; Rob Watson Jr.; Sally Cross; Andrea Reynolds]

October 19, 2023

Poughkeepsie, NY: The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet is pleased to announce the appointment of Jill Roche Gomez as the nonprofit organization’s inaugural Executive Director.

Gomez is a seasoned nonprofit leader with more than 15 years of experience working with vulnerable youth. Most recently, Gomez served for six years as Executive Director of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC) in the South Bronx, where she led the development of the organization’s collaborative work to raise education outcomes for all neighborhood children with a focus on education equity, family-centered program design, and community building.

Gomez received her JD from the University of Pittsburgh and holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Law and Human Rights from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

“Jill is a results-oriented, cross-sector leader who knows what it takes to improve youth outcomes for an entire community,” said Children’s Cabinet board chair Rob Watson Jr. “As Executive Director, her collaborative leadership style, operational expertise, and high standards will be invaluable as the Children’s Cabinet begins the critical work of building a comprehensive cradle-to-career system of opportunities for and with Poughkeepsie’s youth and families in partnership with local direct service providers, public schools, government institutions, philanthropy and community stakeholders.”

“This is such an exciting time for the Children’s Cabinet. It is inspiring to see how the Poughkeepsie community has unified around a common understanding of how a cradle-to-career system of support can fundamentally improve the life trajectories of young people,” said Gomez. “I could not be more thrilled to begin working with the vibrant, passionate network of partners and stakeholders in Poughkeepsie who have embraced this vision and are working hard every day to make it a reality.”

Gomez’s hiring comes as the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet begins the implementation of its strategic plan, recently completed with the support of the William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone (the internationally-renowned model for cradle-to-career innovation).

The Cabinet also recently received a $175,000 grant from The Wallace Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies. The funding is being used to support a first-of-its-kind partnership among Poughkeepsie direct service providers The Art Effect, Boys & Girls Club, Community Matters 2, and Family Services. The four organizations are working with the Cabinet to improve access to out-of-school time programming for Poughkeepsie youth ages 11-19.

The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet was launched in February 2020 as a coordinated effort among city leaders to develop a cradle-to-career agenda and system of opportunities. The Cabinet’s Leadership Council is co-chaired by City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Marc Nelson and Dr. Eric Jay Rosser, Superintendent of the Poughkeepsie City School District. The Leadership Council is comprised of representatives from across sectors, including nonprofits, local government, schools, higher education, faith-based organizations, philanthropy, business and healthcare. The Cabinet has received funding support from Dutchess County and the City of Poughkeepsie, local philanthropy, corporate and individual donors.

“In just over three years, the Children’s Cabinet has become an essential forum for our community to come together to find solutions on behalf of Poughkeepsie’s youth,” said Mayor Nelson. “With our strategic plan, we are now channeling those conversations into action. Supporting this type of collective action is one of the best returns on investment we can make as a city. It is a vital part of the solution as we work to continue improving services for Poughkeepsie’s youth as the historic infusion of federal COVID relief dollars ends next year.”

“The Children’s Cabinet is an essential partner for the Poughkeepsie City School District. By taking a school, home and community approach, we have been able to look closely at the many out-of-school factors that impact success in the classroom and in life,” said Dr. Rosser. “By implementing the partnerships and innovations emerging from the Cabinet, both inside and outside of our schools, this approach is already delivering benefits for Poughkeepsie’s children and promises to only accelerate with the hiring of Jill.”

All of the Cabinet’s work is guided by its “North Star” vision that — by 2033 — over 5,000 City of Poughkeepsie young people and their families will be connected annually to transformative cradle-to-career opportunities that place them on pathways to postsecondary completion and socioeconomic mobility.

March 9, 2023

POUGHKEEPSIE - Representatives of the Poughkeepsie Children's Cabinet visited the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) recently and met with its Founder and President, Geoffrey Canada. HCZ and Canada are recognized internationally as pioneers in the development of comprehensive cradle-to-career systems of support for youth.

The 18-member delegation from Poughkeepsie included Mayor Marc Nelson; Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Jay Rosser; Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil; Common Council Chairwoman Natasha Brown; Common Council Member Yvonne Flowers; and leaders from Poughkeepsie’s youth services sector and community organizations.

The three-day intensive site visit was part of an ongoing Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet–Harlem Children’s Zone partnership to develop a similar system of cradle-to-career support for youth in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Last year, the Children’s Cabinet formalized a partnership with HCZ through a Memorandum of Understanding. Currently, a team of consultants from HCZ’s William Julius Wilson Institute is working intensively with Cabinet staff and stakeholders to craft a strategic plan to build a cradle-to-career pipeline of programs and services for children, youth and families.

While in Harlem, the Poughkeepsie delegation received a comprehensive overview of HCZ’s programs. Detailed conversations with key members of the HCZ staff provided an in-depth understanding of the organization’s approach to such topics as: parenting programs/education; preparing children to enter school ready to learn; engaging caregivers and community members; social services coordination; fundraising and development; and college and career preparation and support systems.

The Children’s Cabinet is co-chaired by Mayor Nelson and Dr. Rosser and, as a coordinating body, brings together decision makers, leaders and community representatives to improve the lives of youth and families in the city. The Cabinet was formed in early 2020 in recognition of the fact that between Kindergarten and 12th grade, children spend 80 percent of their time out of the classroom and in the broader community.

Geoffrey Canada said, “We are excited for the wonderful work Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet is doing to change outcomes for underserved and under-resourced children in Dutchess County. We hope the delegation’s visit to our Practitioner’s Institute provided them with further insight into our model and left them with renewed conviction to put their young people on the pathway to economic mobility.”

Dr. Rosser said, “My excitement for what the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet means to children and families of the City of Poughkeepsie was elevated from seeing what is possible through the type of work HCZ engaged in to transform their community. HCZ is a perfect example of how a school, home, and community approach can positively impact the lives of children prenatal to college and career.”

Mayor Nelson said, “Spending this time at HCZ was both invaluable and insightful. In Poughkeepsie, we are in the process of solidifying the Children's Cabinet's role and governance, and we have all the ingredients to do so. The city is proud of the strong partnerships we have developed through the Children’s Cabinet — and of our efforts to greatly expand our reach to aid youth through an increase in annual youth program funding, and through the creation of a city Youth Division.”

Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil said, “The Harlem Children’s Zone is doing remarkable work, starting as it did block by block and now becoming an international leader in the development of a comprehensive strategy to ensure all children have a chance to grow and prosper. Working with the Children’s Cabinet and HCZ is precisely the type of partnerships the county had in mind when we started our Path to Promise initiative, created to identify and help provide all young people in Dutchess County, from birth through age 19, the assets they need to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults.”

The full list of Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet representatives visiting the Harlem Children’s Zone:

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