Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services welcome new leadership, appointing the first ever Black President and CEO Lena Wilson, J.D.
Along with being the first Black woman, she also stands as the second woman in 100-year history to hold this position. With so much history to create for herself, Wilson looks forward to her title.
“It feels phenomenal to work so hard to finally have a place at the decision-making table where you can actually affect change,” Wilson expresses. Explaining how as a Black woman, it means so much to be recognized for her abilities and contributions in the nonprofit industry.
Wilson, working in the field of child welfare for over 25 years, discovered her passion at the young age of 19. Hailing from Lansing, Michigan, she studied at the University Of Detroit Mercy for all of her accolades, working in her home state her entire career until accepting the position at Vista Del Mar.
“This is kind of a calling for me. I felt so blessed that somehow I’ve been prepared for this, this journey and this particular move,” says Wilson. Her excitement is also met by a welcoming and eager team to transition into new leadership under Wilson.
“It’s amazing to see an organization where everyone believes in the mission and is just passionate about what they do,” she says of her team and supporters, adding, “that’s been phenomenal.”
As wife and mother of two daughters, the eldest 23 and youngest 18, she says this a great time to be able to focus on her career. The self-proclaimed “workaholic” is eager to get into the swing of things understanding her daughters are in full support of her life-long purpose.
Throughout the years, Wilson has been working to create spaces for minorities to have a seat at the table in efforts to garner resources that affect real change within the system.
“We normally don’t see the resources that we need in our communities to see that change that needs to happen,” she says of the imbalances minorities face, continuing, “things are not done usually with us, but to us.” Igniting the fire to push for empowerment of minorities and strive for better communities, Wilson uses her passion to serve children and their families to break systemic chains.
Now at Vista Del Mar, her goals are to make sure the organization is reflective of the change in the population, as well as more inclusion of the community.
“We need to reflect the community the work that we’re doing, the families that we’re working with now. How we’re in the community and how we appreciate the community and want to hold it up,” she states.
With the lack of opportunities and resources being a major challenge to all nonprofits, Wilson ultimately wants to help everyone reach their highest potential. Believing the community as a source of support is undoubtedly the way to better each person on every level.
“As you move forward in life, never forget to reach back and grab someone else’s hand and take them along with you for the ride,” she states explaining her life mantra noting the importance and value of an opportunity.
Her mantra is imprinted in her heart and her gratitude is high. Inspired by the resilience of the children she serves and protects, Wilson is ready to take on this new task and make history for herself and her surroundings.
“We are our community both individually and collectively and we are responsible for each other, we are our brother’s keepers. And we have to remember that.”
To learn more about Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services visit their website at vistadelmar.org.