Christine Mowry named SYFS executive director and state’s Unsung Heroine

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

SYFS Executive Director Christine Mowry Photo/Melanie Petrucci
SYFS Executive Director Christine Mowry
Photo/Melanie Petrucci

Shrewsbury – The Board of Directors of Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS) has recently named Christine Mowry as its executive director. Mowry has been with the human service agency since 2015 when former Executive Director Terry Cassidy brought her aboard to boost fundraising efforts.

Mowry brought with her experience from the corporate sector in information technology and business development. Like many women, she took some time off to raise a family. When she re-entered the workforce, she wanted something different.

“I felt very strongly that I wanted to be in some sort of mission-driven organization,” she said, adding that she also “wanted to somehow work in a youth-serving organization.”

Cassidy was looking for someone to handle development so the timing was right for the agency and Mowry. Concurrently, SYFS received a grant through the National Council for Behavioral Health for a program to teach adults how to recognize and respond to budding mental illnesses, emotional crisis or substance abuse in adolescents.

The program struck a chord and she became project director and expanded the program well beyond its parameters of Shrewsbury, Worcester, Northborough and Westborough.

“This program is probably the most impactful thing we do here,” Mowry said, noting that she has applied for an extension grant to keep this program going.

“Part of my strategic plan for the agency is to bring more prevention and education programs in because we simply cannot get ahead of the opioid crisis until we get ahead of the underlying current of mental health problems,” she explained.

When Cassidy resigned, the agency tried a co-director model which was unsuccessful. When both of the co-directors left, Mowry and her colleague Lynn Lynch, the business manager, kept the organization running. Mowry eventually was named interim executive director in October of last year.

Mowry was successful in the position, so the arrangement has been made permanent.

“Over the past three years, Christine Mowry has taken on roles at SYFS with increased responsibility,” said Board President Thomas Kennedy. “She has a very good understanding of the mission and values of the agency… During the past year in her interim leadership role, Christine has demonstrated to the Board of Directors that she has the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead SYFS as its executive director.”

Mowry was recently honored with a nomination from State Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) to be named an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW). State legislators are asked to identify women who “make outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities.” She received this award at a State House ceremony June 20.

“The entire Board of Directors was thrilled to hear that Christine, through the thoughtful nomination efforts of Senator Moore, was selected to receive the 2018 Unsung Heroine recognition,” Kennedy said. “Christine truly uses, as described in the award criteria, her time, talent, spirit, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others.”

SYFS is growing and Mowry is exited for the future with new initiatives, being recognized locally and statewide, and expanding programming.

“It’s all good stuff,” Mowry exclaimed.