Nicole Wells Stallworth Tapped to Lead The Children’s Center as New CEO

Veteran nonprofit executive begins her position on July 10

DETROIT, MICH (MAY 31, 2023) – The Children’s Center (TCC) Board of Directors CEO Search Committee announced, today, that Nicole Wells Stallworth will serve as its next Chief Executive Officer, leading the organization as it continues serve children and families in Detroit. Wells Stallworth will begin in this role on July 10, 2023, after spending more than two decades in leadership on the front lines of advocacy for some of the most significant issues that impact equity and quality of life outcomes for all.

Wells Stallworth, a high-level social impact executive, was chosen after an extensive year-long, nationwide search, involving more than 10 candidates which was narrowed to four by early April. Their selection was finalized in the agency’s Executive Committee session held May 24, 2023.

Liz Agius, Board Chair of the Children’s Center said, “We are thrilled to have Nicole back to lead The Children’s Center into this new chapter for the organization. Ms. Wells Stallworth’s background and experience align with our recently established strategies and initiatives aimed at keeping TCC serving the community for years to come. Her expertise in nonprofit management, issue advocacy, behavioral health, child welfare, public education, legislative & government affairs, communications, and philanthropy make her extremely well-qualified for this role.”

Wells Stallworth previously served as Executive Director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. In this role, she was responsible for the leadership and oversight of Planned Parenthood’s public advocacy strategy, constituency engagement programs, legislative action strategies, government relations, its PAC, Super PAC, and electoral programs.

“As a long-time advocate for The Children’s Center, I am honored to join as the new President & CEO. This affords me an exciting opportunity to translate my passion, experience, and expertise into an effort to help children and families shape their own futures and life outcomes in meaningful and impactful ways,” said Wells Stallworth. “My mission as CEO will be to continue building upon the momentum and tremendous legacy of my predecessor, Deborah Matthews while being a champion for the stability, success, and growth of families within our community.”

Wells Stallworth has served as Assistant Vice President for Government & Community Relations at Oakland University where she was responsible for heading the University’s community relations presence, advocacy-related initiatives, and direct engagement of local elected officials in the townships & municipalities of Wayne, Oakland & Macomb Counties. She also holds solid organizational knowledge of the Children’s Center having served the agency as Director of Government & Community Affairs from 2011 to 2014.

Wells Stallworth has deep roots both in Detroit and in Lansing. She is a Lansing native and has lived in Detroit for over 25 years. Her experience started in the non-profit space where she has held a variety of roles at every level of the non-profit sector that have provided a platform for her to advocate for low-income families and individuals struggling to obtain and maintain vital services and fair treatment within systems essential to obtaining and preserve a quality of life.

Throughout her career, she has made several national appearances including on MSNBC with Alex Wagner and Ali Velshi, NBC News with Yamiche Alcindor, ABC News with Kyra Phillips, Vice News, NPR Radio, USA Today, has been quoted in TIME Magazine, Politico, and

“It is time I celebrate the work we’ve done together and pass the baton to our next leader; Ms. Wells Stallworth, who is more than equipped to bring TCC the energy it needs to navigate new challenges,” said Debora Matthews former president and CEO of The Children’s Center. “I’m excited to see how TCC will continue to serve children and families in Detroit and Wayne County for years to come.”

Wells Stallworth will officially start Monday, July 10, 2023, while Matthews will phase out her tenure with a hybrid schedule until September 29, 2023, to help facilitate a smooth transition.

“We are experiencing a time in history when the intersections between access to high-quality clinical and behavioral healthcare for children and youth and healthy communities could not be more evident. Children’s behavioral healthcare is a public health imperative,” said Wells Stallworth.

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From the CEO’s Desk

It’s an absolute joy to see the smiles of children as their hope is realized and dreams are imagined. The Children’s Center is the place where that comes to life for so many of our families. That’s why it’s so important that we work in the most effective and expressive way to move forward in our mission.

I want to share two mission-focused moves with you. As you can see, the newsletter has a new look and feel. This precedes a larger brand refresh you will see in the coming months. Everything is softer and more vibrant, giving off youthful energy that reminds us that “the child is the center of it all.”

Next, for the greater part of my career, I worked to create a space where joy can thrive in Wayne County. And I have reached a place where I’d like to play a more complementary role. I will be retiring and passing the baton to another come this fall, but I will be here, cheering and championing the work through continued service joining your ranks as supporter.

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Summer Camp Creatives

The Children’s Center Summer Camp is meant to provide a respite for families with children experiencing mental and emotional impairments. With your assistance, children enjoy the camp experiences of social activities, education, arts and crafts, games, sports, swimming, gardening, healthy nutrition, exercise, lunch, field trips and more. Campers also make friends, build self-esteem all while enjoying a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Children like K can be nominated by their staff person to attend the 5 weeklong day camp here at TCC and the impact is truly amazing to see. K had been diagnosed with autism disorder and was reported to have difficulties with his receptive and expressive language which significantly interferes with his social communication. Often, these difficulties lead other children to make inappropriate comments about the child with autism or dominate their conversations, in turn isolating the child that has been diagnosed.

There was great progress made by not only K but the other children at thiscamp. Every day, upon entering camp he immediately found white sheets of paper and a pencil, drawing cartoon themes throughout the day. While keeping K on track with all the activities that were offered at camp, the staff helped him explore other types of media for his artwork. The Sonic picture featured was drawn by K with permanent marker on a 4×4 inch tile and then coated with resin.

The turning point came when other campers witnessed K become agitated if his art materials were not immediately available after he participated in a camp activity. Staff noticed that when the groups changed rooms in camp, campers would make sure that K had his art supplies available, even carrying it along with them. They started looking out for him and sought him out for interactions. As K’s friendships grew, his need to create decreased as the camp progressed. Granted, the art did not go away, but it appeared as if his anxiety decreased, and his self-esteem and friendships flourished. We are thankful for everyone that allows more children like K to have the opportunities to create friendships, build self-esteem and work on communication skills with other children their age.

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Holiday Hopes Fulfilled

From December 5-14, 472 families joined us in our ‘winter wonderland’ to select gifts, stocking stuffers, books, hats & gloves, and blankets for all of the children ages 18 and under in their homes. Through this event, 1,349 children experienced the magic of the holiday season.  

This year’s Holiday Shop was made possible by the hands of 269 volunteers providing 1,266 hours of service!  Volunteers decked out in jingle bells, reindeer antlers, and Christmas lights registered parents & guardians for their shopping appointments, acted as personal shoppers, and kept our shelves stocked full of items to choose from. Thank you to the many individual volunteers that joined us, as well as volunteers from the following groups: 

Ally Financial
Bon Bon Bon
Delta Dental
Detroit Chassis LLC
Detroit Manufacturing Systems
Detroit Tap Repertory
Ford Motor Company
Ilitch Charities
Kapnick Insurance Group
Lovasco Consulting Group
Mariner’s Church of Detroit
Metro Riverfront Optimist Club
Order of the Eastern Star – Dorothy Riley #189
Tau Beta Association
w3r Consulting
Warby Parker
WSU Alpha Epsilon Phi
WSU Procurement & Strategic Sourcing Department

We would also express our gratitude to our Gold Level Supporters that made the 2022 Holiday Shop possible: 

It’s never too early to begin planning for next year!  If you’d like to be a part of the 2023 Holiday Shop, please contact Adrienne Polumbo at 


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