Avery to Step Down from Treehouse after 24 Years as Nationwide Search for Replacement Begins

SEATTLE, Monday, October 14, 2019 – Janis Avery, who has led Treehouse for 24 years, will step down as its CEO in the spring. The nonprofit organization, which gives youth in foster care a childhood and a future, has dramatically improved graduation rates for participants in its program under Avery’s leadership.

Treehouse also announced there will be a nationwide search for its next CEO.

“I am so proud of what we have done together to grow this organization, build awareness about foster care and partner around hope and opportunity. All of this makes it possible for me to consider what comes next,” Avery said in a personal statement that was emailed to donors, volunteers and other supporters. “It is time for someone else to lead this amazing organization. The decision, while difficult to make, fills me with equal parts appreciation for how we arrived in this moment and anticipation of successes yet to come.”

Avery joined Treehouse as the organization’s first Managing Director in 1995. She credited the Board of Directors for taking a chance on her all of those years ago, dedicated staff, thousands of volunteers and other community supporters who partnered in shared progress which she called “extraordinary and ongoing.”

Through the years, Treehouse has:

  • Grown from working with hundreds of children annually and a staff of 10—to more than 8,000 youth and a staff 148 strong—with a budget exceeding $15 million.
  • Worked for equity by leading through the lens of race as foundational to leadership, youth and organizational success.
  • Made childhood experiences, clothing and other essentials such as meaningful holiday gifts, driver’s education and car insurance accessible to those experiencing foster care, while they explore interests and identities, find community and simply have fun.
  • Improved both the on-time and extended high school graduation rates for youth in care and are well on the way to statewide graduation equity in Washington.
  • Built and nurtured a staff committed to growing, learning and producing the best possible work.

Amy Mullins, Chair of the Treehouse Board of Directors, was in foster care as an infant before being adopted. She first joined Treehouse as a volunteer 12 years ago.

“I think one of the things that’s so incredible about this organization is that it doesn’t rest on its laurels. Treehouse keeps looking for what we can do next, and that’s been driven by Janis,” Mullins said. “She has kept me engaged through the years because she would find things about me that I may not have recognized in myself, and she would challenge me to step into a role based on that. We do the same thing for our youth as we partner with them to set and achieve their own goals.”

Treehouse now supports youth in care from birth to well into their 20s. Its latest innovation, Launch Success, partners with young adults after high school as they work to earn a degree or other career credential, living wage and stable housing.

Avery will remain as CEO until the new leader is announced. She then plans to stay involved as Treehouse’s biggest cheerleader.

“Treehouse is in my heart forever, and I hope it is in yours,” Avery said. “Please continue to share your love for everything we do, and encourage others to get involved. Community support is how we became the organization we are today, and it is the cornerstone to how we will continue evolving in the years to come.”

About Treehouse

Founded in 1988 by social workers, Treehouse is Washington’s leading nonprofit organization addressing the academic and other essential support needs of more than 8,000 youth in foster care. We’re committed to youth in care statewide achieving a degree or other career credential, living wage job and stable housing at the same rate as their peers. With fierce optimism, we fight the structural inequities that impact all of us. Learn more at www.treehouseforkids.org.

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