NEARING THE END OF AN ERA:  Ostrowski to retire, successor named

Michael OstrowskiOstrowski leaves legacy
After 27 ½ years as president/CEO of Child and Family Services of NH, Mike Ostrowski will retire at the end of 2013.  

Ostrowski has grown CFS from a 50 staff, two office, eight program, $1.2 million budget operation that served about 2000 individuals in Manchester and Concord, to a 300 staff, 15 office, $12 million budget operation delivering over 28 programs across the state.  

Today, as one of the largest private, nonprofits in the state, CFS currently serves an average of 15,000 children, youth and families, annually.  

Under Ostrowski’s reign, the organization has expanded over the decades from office based counseling to field based services with over 1.3 million miles traveled, yearly, and delivers services that address almost every human need at every age and stage of life.

Cumulatively, Ostrowski has been in the field of human services for 40 years.  He started his career in the early ‘70s as a caseworker working on the front lines for people in crisis, in need and at risk.  In ’72, he moved into a position as program director for Family and Children Services of Oakland in Pontiac, Michigan, and in ’82, he became the president/CEO of Family and Children’s Service of Midland, Michigan.

Ostrowski’s work as a practitioner fueled his interest in public policy, and as a result, the agency’s advocacy wing, the NH Children’s Lobby, has become one of the most trusted and respected forces for children at the state.  
Over the years, the NHCL has helped to improve the lives of children and families through legislative, judicial and public policy initiatives.  With a direct service practice upon which to glean real-life intelligence, no other organization is better positioned to understand the challenges faced by local children and families, than CFS.

    Under his direction, CFS has made great strides on behalf of New Hampshire kids and families, including, but not limited to, the following:  

  • Launched the Transitional Living Program to help homeless young adults transition to independence
  • Developed Integrated Home Based Services program model to serve families in need of multiple services
  • Launched Street Outreach Program, and established the state’s only Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment outpatient service
  • Spearheaded legislation to raise the standard of child protection
  • Restructured the service delivery system to be interconnected and on a continuum of care practice model
  • Published the state’s first major statistical document about the status of children, titled “NH’s Children of the ‘80s” 
  • Established a statewide foster parent association
  • Started the Parent Aide program
  • Expanded Camp Spaulding
  • Merged with Upper Valley Youth Services, Rockingham Family Services/Seacoast Counseling Center, Lakes Region Family Services and Familystrength, thereby adding to the CFS array of services to include services to children with developmental concerns.
  • Expanded the Homecare program, which is designed to help senior citizens maintain quality of life in their own homes, from Manchester to Nashua and Concord
  • Led several successful battles to preserve CHINS (Children in Need of Services)
  • Repealed the ban on gay & lesbian foster and adoptive parents
  • Opened the Teen Resource Center in Manchester, to serve as a drop-in center for at-risk youth to receive basic needs support, and to house related youth oriented services
  • Brought the agency into the 21st century with technology, not only launching website, e-mail and mobile communication systems, but enhancing the agency’s central intelligence system (a data management program that measures output and outcomes of programs in order to better understand and serve its varied clientele and in the interest of transparency with donors and contractors)

Under Ostrowski’s reign, the agency has consistently forged strong partnerships with others in the field, including UNH, Goodwill Northern New England, the Department of Corrections, YWCA, Easter Seals, and many more, operating under a philosophy that subscribes to a collaborative rather than competitive ideal.

  • Awards and accolades have honored both Ostrowski and the agency over the years. Among them:  
  • CWLA advocacy award to CFS
  • National Association of Social Workers, Social Worker of the Year award to Ostrowski
  • Nonprofit of the Year from Business NH Magazine
  • Cotton Mather Cleveland Award to Ostrowski
  • Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence
  • Merit Award from Plan NH for green affordable housing pilot project
  • Robert Chamberlin Award by Family Support NH
  • Concerts for the Cause awarded Most Socially Conscious Cultural Events by New Hampshire Magazine
  • Golden Mic Award from the NH Association of Broadcasters for Best Public Service Campaign

An active community leader, Ostrowski has served as chairman of Leadership NH, the NH Center for Non-Non Profits, the Rotary Club of Manchester and on the boards of the Endowment for Health, Child Welfare League of America, and Granite United Way.

Ostrowski ushered the agency through its sesquicentennial back in 2000, when then Governor Shaheen issued a state proclamation for the occasion, and CFS published its first book, which celebrates New Hampshire’s social history in the framework of CFS.

Marilyn Mahoney, chair of the CFS board of trustees, reflects:  "Mike Ostrowski has been a tireless and inspired president of Child and Family Services for almost three decades.  Under his leadership, CFS has grown to a truly state-wide agency, offering a wide variety of high-quality, well-administered, efficient and effective programs to provide necessary and essential services to children, families, homeless teens, and the elderly and disabled.  He is admired and respected in the community, as well as by all of the CFS employees.  It has been difficult to imagine a future without his wisdom, experience, and depth of understanding of the issues and the policies, but he will long remain the gold standard for the effective leadership of a non-profit social service agency.  He is a kind, humble, sensitive, and perceptive colleague and friend."

Ostrowski will be succeeded by Borja Alvarez de Toledo, starting in 2014.

“It is a bittersweet time,” says Ostrowski.  I am proud of what I have been a part of here at CFS, but, I couldn’t have accomplished it all without such amazing boards, staff and community partners.   If a child is better off today than yesterday; if a family is stronger and the community a bit better, then we can take pride in this success…though we know that the work is never done.  I am happy to be passing the torch to a man who will undoubtedly take this organization into the next era of advancing the well-being of children and families, and of improving our world.”