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Jessie Watrous

Jessie Watrous

Acting Executive Director, Institute for Innovation, and Implementation


Jessie Watrous is an advocate for the application of research and learning to improve the public systems that serve the most vulnerable children and families. For over twenty-five years she has worked with human service, philanthropic, academic and community partners to strengthen efforts to improve the health and well-being of children and families impacted by poverty, violence, substance use and mental health disorders, and homelessness. Her specialties include: leadership and workforce development; continuous quality improvement systems; technical assistance and consultation; implementation science; evidence-based programming, evidence-building, and philanthropy. Ms. Watrous has been Program Director for Evidence-Based Programs and Practices for The Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMB, SSW) for the last six years. She is responsible for training and technical assistance to child and family-serving agencies in order to strengthen local service arrays and the delivery of evidence-based and promising programs and practices with the goal of addressing the needs of vulnerable children, youth and families. She currently serves as Principal Investigator for contracts with Maryland Department of Human Services/Social Services Administration and has served as Project Director for contracts with HHS, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. Prior to joining the UMB SSW, she was a Senior Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) where she worked for over a decade. She was part of the team that founded AECF’s Evidence-Based Practice Group, and for which she managed a grant portfolio that funded partners to use and build evidence for what works in child and family services. She co-led the design and implementation of AECF’s Evidence2Success (E2S), an augmentation of the Communities That Care model. It is now replicated in six U.S. cities and the United Kingdom. With the AECF Strategic Consulting Group she served as a manager of state consulting engagements where she advised senior child welfare and juvenile justice system leaders on reform and planning, service array development, crisis management, workforce development, quality improvement systems, and care coordination best practices. Child welfare agencies she advised were able to implement reforms that significantly reduced the over-reliance on congregate care. Through her work for the National Coalition Building Institute, Ms. Watrous provided support to organizations and schools applying an equity-focused lens to their efforts. She began her career by providing direct care. Agencies she worked in that provided for the basic needs of those in poverty, or provided foster care, or shelter to families who experienced homelessness and domestic violence. She holds a Master in Public Affairs, with a Concentration in Non-Profit Management from the O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University. She additionally has a certificate in fundraising from The Fundraising School, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She is a resident of Baltimore City and the proud mother of two wonderful boys who attend Baltimore City Public School. 

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