Topic: In the News

The Kempe Foundation Announces New CEO, Jon Kruljac

Kruljac brings nearly 30 years of past involvement with Kempe to his new role

AURORA, CO (January 5, 2021) – The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce Jon Kruljac as the new Chief Executive Officer of The Kempe Foundation. Kruljac, a long-time advocate of the Foundation, is an accomplished, energetic and passionate leader with expertise in strategic planning and philanthropy.

“I am privileged to join such an esteemed organization that is leading efforts to achieve a safe and healthy future for children,” said Kruljac.

Kruljac has been involved with The Kempe Foundation for the last 30 years. He was first introduced to the Foundation in 1991 by Walt and Georgia Imhoff and has been a champion of their work ever since. He has remained involved with Kempe in a variety of capacities including serving as board chair and as an ambassador.

“I am honored that my journey has taken me full circle back to Kempe,” said Kruljac. “My vision for Kempe moving forward is to expand our reach and grow our spheres of influence, with the ultimate goal being for Kempe professionals to serve as many children in the community as possible.”

Prior to being named Kempe’s CEO, Kruljac had a successful career representing public companies in capital markets and investor relations spanning more than 30 years. In 1998, Kruljac started his own consulting company, Monarch Consulting Inc., where he worked with companies in women’s health care, life sciences and oil and gas exploration sectors. After merging his practice and becoming a partner at GVC Capital, he managed financing and investor communications for Colorado based oil and gas companies before retiring in 2019. In addition to his involvement with Kempe, Kruljac also served on the board of Invest in Kids from 2012 to 2020.

Kruljac follows John Faught in this position after his six years of leadership at the Foundation. Kruljac and Faught have successfully collaborated with one another over the last 25 years in a variety of capacities to further child abuse prevention and treatment efforts. Faught stepped down from his role as CEO on December 31, 2020 but continues his work with The Kempe Foundation as the Executive Director of Public Policy. He feels confident in Kruljac’s ability to move Kempe’s mission forward.

“He will make an excellent CEO. Jon has years of experience in the private sector raising funds, but more importantly, Jon has an extreme compassion for children,” said Faught.

While the Foundation is changing leadership, Kempe remains dedicated to their mission of working to achieve a safe and healthy future for children and families.

Our Impact in FY20

 

The world of a young child is small, but the world that impacts a young child is much larger. Never has that broader world impact on children been more highlighted than in the midst of a global pandemic.

Long before we learned of COVID-19, the Kempe Foundation focused on funding work that interrupts the risks surrounding a child linked to childhood trauma. With your donations, we are able to support professionals leading programs at the Kempe Center who, day in and day out, are improving the care and well-being of children by strengthening families, communities, and the systems that serve them.

Throughout FY20, we advocated for the health and safety of children in collaboration with state agencies and state legislators. We helped secure funding for SafeCare, an early intervention program proven to address family risk factors linked to childhood trauma. We reinforced support for the Kempe Center professionals who are empowering resilience among youth in the foster care system through the Fostering Healthy Futures and FHF for Teens mentoring programs. We also invested in the role schools and educators play in a child’s life by advancing the Kempe Center’s Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice program. Finally, we directed resources to building the capacity of local communities to provide health and behavioral health care through a network of providers identify and evaluate childhood maltreatment and trauma.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it exacerbated the stress and trauma being experienced by Colorado’s most vulnerable residents. We know the pandemic has impacted many of the children and families who interact with Kempe and has intensified the need for practices and strategies built to respond to trauma.

As a result, we pivoted our work to support the Kempe Center and professionals dedicated to serving families and children, in this new world that strained the safety nets for children. We also focused on preserving state funding for key programs to support children and families even as Colorado faces a large budget shortfall.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read our Annual Report to learn more about our work in FY20, both prior to and during the pandemic. Thank you for your support in making all of this work possible.

Sincerely,

John D. Faught, JD

CEO, The Kempe Foundation

A Year of Change and Transformation for the Kempe Foundation

After six years of leadership, John Faught is stepping down from his role as Chief Executive Officer of the Kempe Foundation. Faught has been a champion of the Foundation for over 25 years, and his leadership will surely be missed by our staff and supporters. In the new year, he will transition into a new role where he will use his public policy expertise to advocate for legislation on behalf of the Foundation. Long-time Kempe advocate Jon Kruljac will step into the role of CEO effective January 1, 2021. While the Foundation is changing leadership, we remain dedicated to working together to achieve a safe and healthy future for children.

Kruljac is an accomplished, energetic and passionate leader with expertise in strategic planning and philanthropy. Professionally, he has more than 30 years of experience representing public companies in capital markets and investor relations. His history with Kempe dates back to 1991, when he was first introduced to the organization by Walt and Georgia Imhoff. In the 30 years that followed, he has remained involved with Kempe in various capacities.

“I have always cared deeply for children and civic responsibility,” says Kruljac. “The Kempe Foundation is a great marriage of the two and I am honored that my journey has taken me full circle back to this organization.”

In regard to his predecessor, Kruljac is admiring. “John Faught helped further the Foundation’s reputation as a public policy resource and advocated tirelessly for legislative funding. I am grateful he will remain with us in a public policy role.”

Looking ahead, Kruljac hopes to grow the Foundation’s spheres of influence with the ultimate goal of Kempe Center professionals serving as many children and communities as possible. He is a talented fundraiser and will work hard to ensure Kempe achieves its goals with financial support from the Foundation.

“We will continue addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the stressors children and families are currently experiencing,” says Kruljac. “We want to reach more schools, communities and neighborhoods with the right tools to manage the impacts of this pandemic moving forward.”

We are thrilled to welcome Jon Kruljac into the role of CEO in the new year. We are confident that his expertise will build upon Faught’s successes and are grateful for the ongoing commitment of our supporters to making our work possible.

Hear more from John Faught and Jon Kruljac in the video below.

Empowering Youth to Foster Healthy Futures

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the vulnerability of children and youth in our communities, especially those experiencing trauma or involvement in the child welfare system. These youth are typically at an increased risk for adverse outcomes, but they are also capable of showing remarkable resilience with the right care.

The Kempe Center’s Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, a positive youth development program that uses mentoring and skills training to empower youth to foster their own healthy futures, has recently adapted in several ways in response to current events and policy mandates.

“We developed FHF based on the understanding that all young people have strengths they can leverage to thrive in their own way,” explains Heather Taussig, the creator and Director of FHF. “It has been a top priority for us to continue engaging with our youth, particularly those facing adversity during this unprecedented time.”

Adapting to the Pandemic and Beyond

In the wake of COVID-19, the FHF program team shifted to online mentoring and skills groups last spring. “Moving everything online was a challenge, certainly, but we’ve also noticed many positive benefits and plan to use these virtual tools beyond the pandemic,” said Jessica Corvinus, Director of Dissemination for the FHF program. “This year, we plan to offer a hybrid program of online skills groups with in-person mentoring to support those youth who live outside of the Denver metro area.”

Implementing a Family First Approach

Guided by the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) passed in 2018, the FHF program team has also shifted their focus to care for youth who have had a range of traumatic experiences – not just those in foster care.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, FFPSA has been characterized as the most significant child welfare legislation in over a decade. This federal law includes historic reforms to help keep children and youth safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care, and emphasizes the importance of children and youth growing up in families. In cases where foster care is needed, FFPSA helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate for their needs.

In alignment with FFPSA’s priority of reducing the number of youth placed in congregate care, the Acing Healthy Futures program works with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), providing them with the same evidence-based mentoring and skills training that are the hallmark of the FHF program.

“We recognized a need to provide our programming to youth living with birth families who have faced adverse childhood experiences,” says Corvinus. “That’s why it was important for us to introduce the Acing Healthy Futures program and focus our efforts on addressing major life stressors before they result in the need for child welfare involvement.”

What’s Next for FHF 

Moving ahead, the primary goal of FHF is to reach more youth outside the Denver Metro area by training additional agencies and professionals to run the program. The FHF program team recently received a Tony Grampsas Youth Services grant to help with this goal.

A donation to the Kempe Foundation can also support the expansion of FHF at a time when our youth truly need it most. You can help us reach more youth by donating today.

Ron Mitchell Named Deputy Executive Director for the Kempe Center

The Kempe Center and the Kempe Foundation are pleased to announce the appointment of Ron Mitchell, MSW as the new Deputy Executive Director for the Kempe Center. Mitchell joins the Kempe team with over 30 years of dedication to public human services work and a passion for improving the lives of children through research, system reforms and legislative efforts.

“I am truly honored to begin this next chapter with such a phenomenal organization,” said Mitchell. “The team I’m working with is passionate and driven to create lasting change.”

As Deputy Director, Mitchell will take on the responsibility of developing and coordinating key strategic partnerships for the Center. He will also provide support and direction for projects related to the implementation of evidence-based and promising practices, systems of care and child health across multiple entities.

One of the projects Mitchell will lead, along with Dr. Antonia Chiesa, is the CARENetwork, which develops and maintains a standardized, coordinated response to child abuse and neglect through a network of designated healthcare providers.

“A child’s outcomes in the system shouldn’t be based on where they live. There needs to be a standard approach across the board, and I’m dedicated to moving us toward that goal with the CARENetwork and other projects,” said Mitchell.

Prior to joining the Kempe team, Mitchell’s career included work in child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and fiscal administration. He worked for Denver County and Mesa County, as well as Colorado’s Division of Youth Services, and has been the director of two residential child care facilities. He was also a co-author of one of the initial comprehensive child welfare system reform plans adopted in Colorado, the components of which would be used both in Colorado and nationally to dramatically reduce the numbers of children in out of home placement, and preserve more children with their biological and kinship families.

We are thrilled to welcome Mitchell to the Kempe team and look forward to engaging him in our work to help position the Kempe Center as a catalyst driving overall systemic change.