Mississippi honors native-born philanthropist William C. Bell
JACKSON — Casey Family Programs’ president and CEO, Dr. William C. Bell, a Mississippi native, will be honored Tuesday by the Mississippi legislature with a resolution recognizing his public service and leadership of the nation’s largest operating philanthropy focusing on foster care and at-risk children.
Bell was also celebrated Monday in Cleveland at a ceremony at Delta State University, his alma mater. He was presented by university officials with a DSU honorary “Green Jacket” – a distinction previously bestowed to only three other individuals.
Casey Family Programs, based in Seattle, has been working with the state of Mississippi and agency partners since 2009 to improve the lives of Mississippi’s children — including those who are in, have been in, or are at risk of entering foster care. Casey is currently working with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services on multiple ventures and innovative programs to strengthen families and build communities of hope for Mississippi’s most vulnerable children.
"In December 2015, Gov. Bryant appointed me to serve as MDCPS Commissioner. I immediately contacted Dr. Bell and Casey Family Programs to ask them to assist us with this substantial challenge we're facing to keep all of the precious children of Mississippi safe,” said David Chandler, who praised Bell’s leadership in an address Monday at DSU by describing him as the school’s “most distinguished alumnus.”
“Dr. Bell is especially interested in assisting Mississippi with this endeavor, because he is also a Mississippian," Chandler added.
Casey’s partnership efforts with MDCPS in Mississippi include sharing best practices and improving policies in child welfare; safely reducing the number of children who come into foster care; increasing the number of youth who exit the child welfare system and move to stable, permanent situations; and engaging judges and other stakeholders to ensure that birth parents are represented in the judicial processes involving their children. Additionally, Casey is supporting and participating in the Winning the Race conference at Delta State University and other efforts designed to close the opportunity gap and move toward equality through education.
Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Cleveland, sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 542 and will present it to Bell and his family members on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, along with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. The resolution is expected to be brought up as soon as the Senate gavels into session on Tuesday morning.
The Senate Concurrent Resolution reads in part: “It is with great pride that we pay tribute to a most public-spirited citizen of Mississippi with enormous civic energy, who has brought honor to his university and state.”
Bell, who has more than 35 years of leadership experience in the human services, has been president and CEO of Casey Family Programs since 2006. The national foundation, which is based in Seattle, was established in 1966 by UPS founder Jim Casey to fill a critical need to ensure that our nation’s most vulnerable children have safe, stable families who can provide the support needed to succeed in life. Bell currently lives in the greater Seattle area.
Born and raised in Pace in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Bell graduated from Delta State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and behavioral science. He holds a Ph.D. in social welfare from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a Master of Social Work degree from Hunter College School of Social Work.
“As a native son of Mississippi, I am deeply honored to receive this recognition and I thank the many leaders in Mississippi who are working toward a brighter and hopeful future for children and families,” Bell said, upon learning of the unexpected recognition by his home state. “There are nearly 428,000 youth in foster care in this country, and the evidence is clear that children do best when they’re in strong families surrounded by supportive communities.”
Bell previously served as Casey Family Programs’ executive vice president for Child and Family Services. Prior to joining Casey Family Programs, he served as commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, which included child protection and foster care, with a $2.4 billion budget and a staff of more than 7,000.
Bell serves on numerous boards, including those of United Way of King County, Philanthropy Northwest, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, Delta State University Foundation and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. He has received multiple awards and honors, including the Special Contribution to the Judiciary Award from the King County Washington Women Lawyers for his service to children and families and the Lifetime of Service Award from City Year Seattle/King County.
Casey Family Programs is the nation's largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for vulnerable children and families across America. Founded in 1966, we work in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two territories and with more than a dozen tribal nations to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and well-being of children, families and the communities where they live.
Posted March 28, 2017 - 7:27 am