Annual Report 2023 – Q&A with CEO Jay Allen

Wayfinder Family Services President & CEO

What are your thoughts about your new role as president and CEO?

Wayfinder has had only three leaders before me in our 70-year history, which speaks to the stability of the organization. I know I am building on the successes of my predecessors. I was so flattered to receive this note from Angela Brown, a second-generation donor: “I’m so impressed and in awe with the accomplishments and ongoing projects. The newsletters and personal stories help me feel humanity hasn’t gone cynical! Very different from the little storefront on Wilshire Blvd. that Norm and Nadia [Wayfinder’s founders] started with. My dad would be over the moon!” I’m proud to lead an organization that has such a long history of positive impact in our communities.

Is Wayfinder planning changes in services?

We are continuing to provide full services in our areas of expertise: foster care and adoption, mental health, and visual and multiple disabilities. The change is in where we are providing them. We are moving from campus-based to community-based services. We are going to where people need us: in their homes and schools. We are expanding prevention services in communities. Rather than play catch-up downstream, upstream prevention can avert the need for crisis services.

What is your favorite moment or turning point from your 23 years at Wayfinder?

About 2010, a mother who had picked up her son after a week at Camp Bloomfield said to me with tears in her eyes, “Camp was incredible, but I’m still so worried. He’s about to graduate from high school and doesn’t have all the skills he needs for the world beyond camp and home.” In that moment, I realized that we had the opportunity to build up our transition services for youth and young adults with vision loss or multiple disabilities so they could develop skills for education and work. Two years later, at the Transition Services’ graduation ceremony, another mother approached me and said, “Thank you. I dropped off a kid, and I picked up a man!”


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December 21, 2023