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Story Children’s Bureau Chiefs 11-1

Chapter 5   Leadership

Children’s Bureau Chiefs – Julia Lathrop, first Chief of the Children’s Bureau, was the first woman ever to head an agency of the U.S. government. Many of Lathrop’s successors have been women; all have provided critical leadership on behalf of children, youth, and families.
Children’s Bureau Chiefs include the following:
  • Julia Lathrop (1912–1921) guided the Bureau’s formative years, overseeing an increase in staff from 15 to more than 200, as well as the shift in its mission from strictly investigation and reporting to administering programs. Her brainchild, the Maternity and Infancy Act, was signed into law during her final year at the Bureau.
  • Grace Abbott (1921–1934) joined the Bureau in 1917 to run the child labor division and administered the short-lived Keating-Owen Act. Her most important tasks as head of the Children’s Bureau were to administer the groundbreaking Maternity and Infancy Act and help draft the Social Security Act of 1935.
  • Katharine Lenroot (1934–1951) was a social worker who worked first as a special investigator and then assistant director of the Children’s Bureau, authoring studies on juvenile courts and issues facing unmarried mothers. Lenroot had an international focus, creating the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, representing the United States at four Pan-American Child Congresses, and serving on the executive board of UNICEF from 1947 to 1951.
  • Martha Eliot (1951–1956) , a medical doctor, served as director of the Bureau’s division of child and maternal health from 1924 to 1934 and as assistant chief from 1934 to 1949. Among her accomplishments were helping to draft the child welfare portions of the Social Security Act and conceiving and implementing the Emergency Maternity and Infant Care program.
  • Katherine Oettinger (1957–1968) was a working mother and the first Bureau chief formally trained as a social worker. During her tenure as Chief, Oettinger presided over a sixfold increase in the Bureau’s budget and was instrumental in focusing public attention on child abuse and neglect, programs for children with disabilities, juvenile delinquency, and the development of child care.
  • Pardo Frederick DelliQuadri (1968–1969) oversaw children’s services in Wyoming, Illinois, and Wisconsin and served as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) under President Kennedy. While DelliQuadri was chief, the Children’s Bureau sponsored several research and demonstration studies that showed the serious health, educational, and social risks involved in school-age pregnancy.
  • Edward Zigler (1970–1972) participated on the National Planning and Steering Committee of Project Head Start in 1964. Appointed the first Director of the Office of Child Development and Chief of the Children’s Bureau in 1970, Zigler led efforts to conceptualize and mount such national programs as Health Start, Home Start, the Education for Parenthood Program, the Child Development Associate Program, and the Child and Family Resources Program.
  • John Meier (1974–1976) was responsible for starting the New Nursery School, a precursor to the Head Start program. While Chief of the Children’s Bureau, Meier influenced and helped create significant legislation, including writing sections of the Education for All Handicapped Law.
  • Blandina Cardenas (1977–1979)
  • John A. Calhoun III (1980–1981) helped to write and then saw Congress enact the landmark Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.
  • Clarence Eugene Hodges (1981–1984)
  • Dodie Truman Livingston (1984–1989) was a writer and researcher dedicated to issues concerning adoption. Both an adoptee and an adoptive parent, Livingston oversaw the development of the Bureau’s Family Assessment Form, which was validated by research and used in hundreds of agencies across the United States.
  • Wade Horn (1989–1993)
  • Olivia Golden (1993–1998)
  • Patricia Montoya (1998–2001)
  • Joan Ohl (2002–2008)
  • Bryan Samuels (2010–Present)

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