was elementary principal at Mill Creek Elementary in Independence and Columbian Elementary in Carthage, Missouri. She has worked as director of special services in Holden, Missouri, was assistant director of the Central Regional Professional Development Center, and was an elementary teacher in the Nevada, Missouri, district, where she was instrumental in the establishment of the Storefront School for academically at-risk students. She has been a STARR (Select Teachers As Regional Resources) program teacher and has won the Miliken Family Foundation Award. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Southern State University, her master’s of science degree in elementary administration from Central Missouri State University, and her doctorate in education leadership from the University of Missouri.
Allison Blake, M.S.W., Ph.D., was appointed commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families in June 2010. As commissioner, she has emphasized an integrated and strategic approach to serving children and families in the state. To that end, Dr. Blake has focused on a community-based, family-centered approach to service delivery throughout the work of the entire department; ensured the inclusion of parent and youth voices in the department’s planning and quality-improvement work; and fostered a significant expansion of partnerships with the community to help enhance child abuse prevention and family-strengthening efforts across the state. With a vision to promote sustainable growth and identify areas of improvement, as one of her first initiatives, Dr. Blake elevated the status of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services) office on adolescents to a department-level office with an emphasis on a more strategic approach to serving youth transitioning to adulthood. By partnering with youth, parents, stakeholders, service providers, and other state agencies to determine the current strengths of the system and the opportunities for improvement, a formal strategic plan was launched in 2011. In addition, Dr. Blake has created an internal office focused on performance management and accountability to help the department become a self-correcting, transparent organization. For almost 30 years, Dr. Blake has been working on behalf of children and families and the social workers who serve them. Prior to rejoining state service, she served as the director of the Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work, where she oversaw a portfolio of grants and contracts aimed at strengthening