Debora MatthewsPresident & CEO


    Debora Matthews was appointed to the position of President & Chief Executive Officer in February 2006, following a 10-month period as Chief Operating Officer which began in April 2005. Her dedication to volunteer service at The Children’s Center span over a 17-year period where she served as Chair of the Board of Directors and Treasurer. Matthews also worked as Finance Director at The Children’s Center for three years in the mid 1980’s.

    Matthews served as Chief Financial Officer for over 25 years with a number of nonprofit organizations in this region. She has over 35 years of experience in management and operations with an emphasis in finance. Subsequent to a 3-year career with Plante & Moran, LLC where she primarily conducted audits for nonprofits and municipalities, Matthews was regularly recruited by Plante & Moran to provide financial turnaround consulting for several nonprofit clients including an organization in the cooperative optical industry leading their strategy to transition to an Employee Stock Owned (ESOP) status. Transitional consulting for nonprofits included right-sizing organizations for financial viability and sustainability. Matthews earned a B.B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

    In April 2015, Matthews was appointed to the Performance Child Welfare Partnership Council, an ongoing team established to lead the implementation of performance based contracting in Child Welfare in Michigan. From July 2013 through February 2014, she served as a member of the Michigan Child Welfare Performance Based Funding Task Force – Pilot and Implementation Roadmap Work Group, in association with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and the Michigan Department of Human Services.

    In May 2014, Matthews led the formation of the Wayne County Community Mental Health Collaborative. The 20-provider membership alliance from the behavioral health system providing advocacy for funding and programming for the county’s adult and children’s initiatives coordinated by the new Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority.

    In 2006, Matthews was appointed by Detroit Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency to lead the implementation of the innovative evidence-based practice Parent Management Training – Oregon (PMTO) model and worked diligently with partner community mental health agencies for efficient implementation and execution of this therapeutic model which positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and families.

    Additional roles as a leader and advocate in child welfare and behavioral health initiatives and practices in Southeastern Michigan and beyond include Matthews’ appointments or elections to the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Alliance for Strong Families and Communities (Finance Committee), Michigan Federation for Children & Families (President-Elect 2016, Executive and Audit Committee Chair), Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies, The Autism Alliance of Michigan (Treasurer 2009-2015), Midtown Detroit Association, Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc. (BHPI) (Board Chair 2009-2014) and CareLink (Member 2006-2014).

    Matthews’ fundraising and friend-raising expertise was shared in presenting philanthropic workshops outlining The Children’s Center’s strategies for securing financial stewardship beyond traditional methods. During the 2009 Michigan Federation of Children and Families Annual Conference, Matthews presented “A New Twist in Lifelong Giving for Sustainable Funding,” the blueprint to leaving a legacy for your agency. During the 2007 Alliance for Children and Families National Conference, she presented “Igniting Donor Passion” focusing on mission-based fundraising as both a volunteer and staff.

    On additional national platforms, she was recognized as an early adaptor and subject matter expert on “Leading Diversity from the Inside Out” during the 2006 Council on Accreditation’s (COA) National Conference. At the 2011 Michigan Federation for Children and Families Annual Conference, she co-presented “Strategies for a Vibrant Public and Private Child Welfare Network in Michigan,” with the Department of Human Services Deputy Director for Strategic Services, Dudley Spade.

    The Michigan Minority Health Education Council presented Matthews with the “2016 Lula B. Pearson Humanitarian Award” for having a profound impact on those most in need in the Metro Detroit community.  Other recent awards include the Michigan Chronicle’s “2014 Women of Excellence” (June 2014); the Michigan Chronicle’s “Who’s Who in Black Detroit” (April, 2013), the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2011 Leadership Detroit Class XXXII (June 2011), and the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award for her advocacy, dedication and commitment to those with special needs (August, 2011).

    Matthews’ lifelong passion of advocating for fair, supportive and equitable treatment for children and families in the mental health and child welfare system is demonstrated by her participation in a myriad of state and local focus groups, round table discussions and think tank symposiums. Matthews believes in giving children a first rate, fair start so that they can have the ability to shape their own futures.

    Matthews enjoys her family, traveling, reading, and volunteer service that especially assist seniors and single parents with financial consulting on budgets and tax preparation.