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Cornerstones of Care is dedicated to partnering for safe and healthy communities by leveraging decades of expertise and a certification in trauma-informed care to provide an array of quality prevention, treatment and support services to children and families. We strive to affect positive change, give a stronger voice to those in need, raise awareness in our communities and deliver a fully integrated approach to care.

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Cornerstones of Care Names Merideth Rose New President/CEO

Rose Brings Experience from Community Services League and Independence School District

July 7, 2022 (KANSAS CITY, MO) -- Merideth Rose has been named the President and CEO of Cornerstones of Care and will begin at the agency on July 25th.

Rose comes to Cornerstones of Care from the Community Services League in Independence, Mo., where she served as the Chief People Officer. Prior to that, she was Director of Neighborhood, Family Services, and Caring Communities for the Independence School District. At Cornerstones of Care, Rose replaces Denise Cross, who stepped away from her role in March.

The hiring was the culmination of a CEO search that began in March. The search committee identified Rose’s experience, passion and commitment to youth and families, which is well suited to lead Cornerstones of Care.

“We were looking for someone with experience and compassion to execute our strategic plan and carry out our vision,” said Cornerstones of Care Board Chair Julie Barnett. “Merideth has all of the qualities we wanted.”

At Community Services League, Rose joined the board in 2020 and helped lead the organization through the pandemic. In 2021, Rose joined the staff in a key leadership position as Chief People Officer. Her work there included oversight of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Community Services League CEO Doug Cowan said in an email to CSL staff that he normally would be sad to see someone like Rose leave the organization but was pleased to see her use her leadership skills as a President and CEO.

“As I said at the beginning, she has ‘it.’ She was born to be a leader, and to change lives,” Cowan wrote to his staff.  “I’m glad that CSL was part of her journey, and she has created a lasting impact on this organization.”

At the Independence School District, Rose led initiatives to provide support services to students and families and aid them to self-sufficiency. Rose oversaw 35 licensed social workers and case managers to support students from pre-school to 12th grade. She led efforts to reduce barriers to student success, including domestic violence, homelessness, abuse and neglect.

“Cornerstones of Care is a leader in foster care and adoption, supporting youth and families, and educating our community,” Rose said. “It is an indescribable honor to be selected as the next caretaker for such a phenomenal organization, and it is an assignment I do not take lightly.”

Rose also served communities as the Public Affairs Officer for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In that role, she served as principal advisor and Deputy to the External Affairs Director on public information involving the development and delivery of both emergency and non-emergency information programs to federal, state and local government officials, the public, news media and the emergency management community. During times of nationally declared disasters, Rose led cross-functional emergency response and recovery teams for FEMA, including the Agency’s largest Community Relations deployment in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, in which Rose was responsible for the operational management of more than 1,300 disaster reservists.

Rose’s work with the Community Service League included overseeing diversity, equity, and inclusion for the organization, which will fit with Cornerstones of Care’s DEI commitment. Chief Development Officer Chad Harris, who served as Cornerstones of Care’s interim CEO, said he is looking forward to the continued commitment to the organization’s DEI work.

“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is an important organizational value,” Harris said. “We will continue to enhance our commitment to all people we serve.”

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Cornerstones of Care’s Denise CrossAnnounces Transition from President/CEO Role,Reflects on 15 Years of Serving Children and Families

Chief Development Officer Chad Harris Named to Interim Leadership Role

Feb. 1, 2022 (KANSAS CITY) — After nearly 15 years of serving as Cornerstone of Care President & CEO, Denise Cross has announced her decision to step down from the executive leadership role, effective March 11, 2022. 

In sharing this news with the agency’s team members and community partners, Cross said, “It has truly been an honor to lead this amazing organization and work alongside so many dedicated, caring individuals.” Cross continued, “As an organization, we have had the opportunity to annually impact the lives of more than 17,000 children and families across Missouri and Kansas—what an incredible and rewarding accomplishment!”

“As we emerge from the uncertainties the pandemic has presented the past two years, the organization is well poised to provide strength and stability to children and families through this transition and beyond. This is truly an exciting time for our team, our partners and the people we serve,” Cross said.  

“Cornerstones of Care is what it is today—a leader in trauma-informed care, in communities across the Heartland that helps children and families heal—thanks to Denise’s exemplary leadership as our President and CEO these last 15 years,” said Julie Barnett, chair of the agency’s Board of Directors. “We are so appreciative of Denise’s passionate commitment to children. Her professional contributions will have a lasting positive impact on thousands of lives.” 

Under Cross’ leadership, the agency experienced remarkable growth and milestone achievements in supporting children and families. Highlights during her tenure include:

  • Achievement of certification in trauma-informed care from the Sanctuary Institute, becoming one of the first agencies in the region to hold this designation.
  • Successful merger of five agencies (Cornerstones of Care, Gillis, Marillac, Ozanam and Spofford) and legal affiliation with Cornerstones of Care in 2017, with a focus on better care for children and families through service integration and providing a continuum of treatment.
  • The vision, collaboration, build and launch of Homeroom Health, a pediatric health center at 30th and Troost with KC CARE Health Center, the first of its kind to provide integrated medical, dental, behavioral and social healthcare in one location.
  • Expansion of community-based prevention, treatment and case management services in northern Missouri and eastern Kansas.
  • Three-year partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs as the beneficiary of the Chiefs Charity Game raising $1.6 million for evidence-based approaches to care.
  • Advocacy and public policy support in Jackson County, Topeka and Jefferson City, resulting in the passage of the Jackson County Children’s Service Fund, expansion of Medicaid in Missouri, and implementation and allocation of funding from the Family First Prevention Services Act.
  • Leadership in the organization’s response to COVID-19, focusing on the safety and well-being of team members and the children and families served.
  • And, celebration of the agency’s 150-year milestone, through the “Forward, Together” campaign.

To ensure a smooth transition, a search committee has been established comprised of current Board members. Further, the Board will work to involve senior leaders and key community partners in the search process. In the coming weeks, the Board will retain an executive search firm to assist in helping identify the next President/CEO for Cornerstones of Care. To support the leadership transition, the Board has named Chad Harris, Chief Development Officer, as Interim President & CEO.

“We thank Chad for agreeing to expand upon his leadership role with the agency during this transition,” Barnett said. “He and Denise will work closely with the Board and executive leadership team to maintain continuity with the high level of care we provide.”

In closing her remarks to Cornerstones of Care’s team members, Cross shared, “I am very blessed to have had such a rewarding professional experience at Cornerstones of Care and know you will have many more successes in the future. With much appreciation, thank you.”

Press Release Archives

From Cornerstones of Care President and CEO Denise Cross Regarding Our Diversity Statement

September 15, 2021

Cornerstones of Care believes in communities where children, families and team members feel safe, respected, and comfortable being themselves and expressing all aspects of their identities – a place where each person shares a sense of belonging. We have worked with team members, clients, stakeholders and volunteers to create a diversity statement that defines our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality.

  • We partner for safe and healthy communities.
  • We cultivate a culture in which children, families, team members, volunteers, donors, and community partners feel welcomed, safe, respected, empowered, and celebrated.
  • We value diversity of race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin or citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, geographical location, pregnancy, disability, neurodiversity, socio-economic, and military status.
  • We stand for anti-racism, equity, and inclusivity.
  • We insist and affirm that discrimination and violence have no place in safe and healthy communities, including in our organization.
  • We strive toward a more welcoming, inclusive, diverse, and equitable organization through our policies, partnerships, and practices.

 

Statement by Cornerstones of Care President and CEO Denise Cross to Cornerstones of Care Supporters Regarding Recent Protests.

June 3, 2020

The death of George Floyd that spurred protests across the nation has left us devastated. In helping people heal from all types of trauma every day, we recognize feelings—real feelings—and the anger in our country is real. It is an outcome of generations of inequality and injustice that must come to an end.
 
As a behavioral health organization certified in trauma-informed care by Sanctuary Model®, we are guided by Seven Trauma-Informed Commitments of nonviolence, social intelligence, social learning, open communication, democracy, social responsibility and growth and change. Embracing these commitments drives safety, health, compassion, empathy and inclusion in the communities we serve.
 
Further, our Trauma-Informed Commitments inform our Advocacy Principles, which you see reflected in the work we do, including our advocacy for public policy priorities that:
  • reduce the incidence and impact of trauma;
  • create a safe and healing environment that respects dignity and inclusion;
  • build community to transform systems and individual lives; and
  • take risks in pursuit of valuable gains.
Each of these principles speak to the change we want to see. 
 
But it is not enough to take comfort that we are on the side of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion right now. We must work for change in whatever way each of us can. Change happens through relationships. Become a mentor, volunteer, contact your local, state and federal policy makers, lift up your voice.
 
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

June 10, 2020
Cornerstones of Care Is Awarded Grant from GENYOUth's COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund 

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Statement by Cornerstones of Care President and CEO Denise Cross to Cornerstones of Care Supporters Regarding COVID-19.

March 17, 2020

As an important stakeholder to our organization, I’d like to provide an update on the heightened policies and practices we are implementing to ensure the safety and health of our children, families and staff during this time.

  • Continuously Monitoring & Adapting
    Our leadership team, including a staff-appointed Communicable/Infectious Disease Officer, is closely monitoring local, state, regional and federal best practices and recommendations and adapting to meet the specifics needs of our organization and the children and families we partner with. Every day, we learn more and consider new ways to safely do our work, including the use of technology to minimize in-person meetings.
  • Collaboration with State Partners
    We’re working closely with the Kansas Department for Children and Families and Missouri Children’s Division to continue meeting the needs of children and families while keeping our staff, children and families safe. Our team is providing CDC recommendations and guidance to families on the best ways to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Limiting Exposure
    In addition to more sanitation supplies and practicing social distancing, we’ve canceled all out-of-state travel and paused all non-essential travel for the next 45 days. We’ve also paused all volunteer activities and mentor meetings on our campuses. All staff are submitting symptoms they may be experiencing to the Communicable/Infectious Disease Officer to help understand impact and provide individualized direction on next steps.
  • Implementing Screenings
    On-campus staff are screening visitors (parents/guardians) with CDC-recommended questions to ensure the safety of our schools and residential facilities. Community-based staff are utilizing the same screening questions to understand the safety of a home prior to visiting. Technology continues to be evaluated as temporary tools for providing services.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at denise.cross@cornerstonesofcare.org. Thank you for your continued support of the 15,000 children and families we partner with every day.

See our staff in action! Staff have been sharing stories of how they are still fulfilling their work on the front lines and helping families who are now facing food, child care, employment and transportation insecurities. Read some of their first-hand accounts.