Leadership News: Heidi McIntosh Named CEO

The First Place for Youth Board of Directors is delighted to announce the selection of Heidi McIntosh as CEO following an extensive nationwide search. Heidi will join the organization on October 15, 2018.

First Place was fortunate to have a rich pool of applicants from which to choose, and the Board was unanimous and enthusiastic in its support for Heidi’s selection. An innovative leader with a strong track record of designing policies and processes that support vulnerable populations and influence systems, she brings tremendous skill in stakeholder engagement to drive change and promote the well-being of the youth First Place serves. As the organization came to know Heidi through the process, all were struck by the combination of deep mission alignment, leadership experience, and national networks and knowledge that she will bring to this role. Throughout the process, her interactions with the Board, staff, and young people showed an authentic, vibrant passion for our mission and programming, as well as the ability to connect to diverse audiences.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with this team to bring First Place for Youth into a new era of impact and national expansion of its life-changing programs,” says Heidi. “I have dedicated my career to engaging with communities to support marginalized youth and families, and this is a dream opportunity to be part of the ambitious growth of an organization that is so well-regarded in the field.”

Heidi is a seasoned leader of child welfare systems, with in-depth state-level experience as well as thought leadership and advocacy on the national stage. Most recently as Deputy Director of the National Association of Social Workers, she directed the strategic design, development and enhancement of programs aimed at strengthening the social work profession for 650,000 social workers nationwide.   As a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration, she provided national leadership for the administration of child welfare, overseeing comprehensive state and jurisdictional programs totaling $8 billion for vulnerable children and families and directly working on the National Child and Family Service Reviews, which support states in improving and enhancing their capacity to help youth achieve positive outcomes.

Previously, Heidi served as Deputy Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, where she was appointed by Governor Jodi Rell to manage a $950 million budget providing juvenile justice, child welfare, adolescent and transitional services, behavioral health and medicine, and education services. In this role, she helped to tackle the state’s extreme challenges in disproportionality, leading collaborative efforts with staff, partners, and providers to undergo systematic training and conversations to ground the work in an understanding of racial equity.

A native of Connecticut and one of six children, Heidi knew from a young age that she wanted to be a social worker. She holds a B.A. in Human Development and Family Relations as well as a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut. In her early practice she carried a caseload including high-risk newborns through adolescents facing challenges around permanency. She was selected for the 2010 Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Families Fellowship, served as Vice President of the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners for five years, and has served as the Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work since 2009.

“In Heidi, we feel so fortunate to have found a leader who deeply understands the communities we serve, the challenges they face, and how to influence systemic change on their behalf. Her record of leadership to achieve excellence and innovation speaks volumes,” says Chair of the Board of Directors Jennifer Friedman. “We cannot wait to introduce her to the First Place community over the coming months, and look forward to carrying this important work into the future together.”


Headquartered in Oakland, CA, First Place for Youth serves nearly 2,000 foster youth, ages 16-24, across California each year. Programs operate in six California counties, Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Solano. First Place launched its My First Place™ Affiliate Network in 2017, and has established affiliate partners in Boston, MA, New York City, and Mississippi. As an organization, First Place for Youth believes that more is possible for foster kids, and since its founding in 1998, has helped more than 10,000 young people on the path to brighter futures. .

For media inquiries, please contact Claudia Miller, Vice President of Advancement at 510-272-0979 ext. 299 or

Impact Stories

Thriving Against the Odds: Dulce’s Story

From foster care to academic accolades, Dulce’s journey is nothing short of inspirational! Dulce made her way to First Place […]

Read More

Press Release

Press Release: First Place for Youth Raises More Than $600k for Transition Age Foster Youth at A Celebration of Heart and Home

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Richter | Held during National Foster Care Month, the event celebrated local leaders […]

Read More


California Youth Voice Members Advocate for Change in Sacramento, CA!

On April 17th, First Place for Youth hosted our second annual Advocacy Day at the California State Capitol. This significant […]

Read More
To top