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Beth Houghton tapped to head Pinellas Juvenile Welfare Board

Houghton previously served as executive director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County approved Beth Houghton as its new CEO, effective retroactively to Oct. 1.

Houghton previously served as head of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, a group that offers medical care, food and shelter to homeless individuals.

Houghton’s appointment was unanimous.

“We are thrilled to have Beth on board as our new CEO,” said JWB Board Chair Susan Rolston, who also led the Board’s executive search committee efforts.

“After an exhaustive national search, we were fortunate to attract an experienced Pinellas County executive who checks all the boxes: an individual passionate about JWB’s mission who possesses legal and fiscal expertise, a proven track record of organizational excellence, and a reputation for getting things accomplished.”

Houghton served as executive director at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic for eight years where she oversaw a massive expansion effort increasing the group’s reach to eight food, shelter and health care programs that is now able to provide food and services to more than 55,000 people a month, provide free healthcare to 9,000 people a year and is helping 400 homeless individuals become housing independent through the group’s shelter programs.

“The Juvenile Welfare Board has always been known for shaping the future of our county’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” Houghton said.

“I have always been passionate about improving the lives of our children, both because they are the innocent who cannot control their circumstances and because, as a society, improving children’s lives today and into the future is simply a smart investment. So, coming to the JWB to work with our Board, staff, and community organizations was an easy choice for me.

“I knew I could come to work every day and really make a difference in the trajectory of our community.”

In her new role, Houghton will oversee an annual budget of $79.3 million and a workforce of 62 employees. She’ll oversee policies and ensure they are effectively implemented and will work with both the JWB board of directors and its staff.

She will also establish strategic partnerships and oversee the funding of high-quality programs that benefit tens of thousands of Pinellas County children and families annually.

“Beth is someone who has dedicated her entire life to giving back,” Rolston said. “It’s important that we have a champion for children and families, like Beth, in our top leadership position.”

In addition to her work locally, Houghton has also participated in several mission trips to Honduras. She serves on the Board for the Foundation for International Missions that supports a rural health clinic.

Houghton also serves as chair of the Hospital Board of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. She previously served as board president for Great Explorations and the Houghton-Wagman Children’s Museum.

“Beth embodies the entire package,” Rolston said. “All of her attributes, combined with her experience developing and using impact measures and metrics, will serve us well as we prepare to sunset our current strategic plan, and adopt a new one in 2021.”

The JWB was established by a Special Act of the Florida Legislature in 1945 and approved by Pinellas County voters in 1946. It was reauthorized in 1990.

Houghton replaces Marcie Biddleman who retired in September after a decade-long tenure with the organization.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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