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CEO & President, Texas Family Initiative, LLC

Shirley Dwyer

Shirley Dwyer is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) for The Family Initiative, Inc. (TFI). In addition to serving as the CEO of the parent company, she also serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Texas Family Initiative LLC, which provides foster care, adoption, case management, and behavioral health services to Texas children and families.
Shirley Dwyer has over 30 years of experience working for a variety of child welfare organizations, including the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, the State of Kansas Department of Children and Families, The Family Initiative (TFI) Inc., and other non-profit service agencies. For over a decade, Dwyer served the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) as a federal grants panel Chairman and reviewer of many federal panels. Ms. Dwyer is also experienced in research and co-authored the journal article "Prevention of Sexual Abuse for Preschoolers: Evaluation of a Pilot Program," a ground-breaking study published in Psychological Reports, 1988, Volume 62, pp. 387-396.
Shirley earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Kansas and has continued her education in the areas of public policy, management, and executive processes.
Senior Vice President, EMPOWER

Linda Garcia, PhD

Dr. Linda Garcia is the Senior Vice President of EMPOWER, a program of TFI, where she serves as the Single Source Continuum Contractor (SSCC) for the Texas Department of Family Protective Services in the Metroplex East Region.
Before joining EMPOWER, Dr. Garcia was Senior Vice President at 2INgage, another TFI program, where she also served as the SSCC for DFPS in Region 2.
Dr. Garcia earned her Bachelor’s degree in business from Dallas Baptist University, a Master's degree in Education from Texas Woman's University, and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington. In addition to her leadership role at EMPOWER, she contributes to the field by serving on the boards of the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies, acting as an advisory council member for the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) Public Private Partnership Council, and participating as a Collaborative Member of The Children Commission.
Vice President of Permanency

Susanne Arnold

Susanne Arnold is the Vice President of Permanency for EMPOWER, a program of TFI. In this role, she is responsible for program development and implementation.
Susanne has more than 25 years of experience working in the field of child abuse and neglect. In her role as a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Program Administrator, she was involved in the development of the Collin County Child Sex Trafficking Team Protocols and provided training throughout the metroplex in addition to managing program outcomes. After retiring from DFPS, she served as the Medical and Care Coordinator for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, continuing her work to support child victims of abuse and neglect.
Susanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Texas State University and a Master’s in Social Work from Texas A&M-Commerce. Susanne is also a Licensed Social Worker.
Vice President of Permanency Support

Shirlon Douglas

Shirlon Douglas-Harris is the Vice President of Permanency Services for EMPOWER. In this role, she provides oversight to the support services departments, including: Adoption, Community Engagement, PAL Specialist, Life Skills Trainer, Training Specialist, Facilitation Specialist, Placement Stability Specialist, Courtesy Specialist, Kinship Specialist, Family Finder, Family Navigator, Transportation Support Workers, and Parent Partners.
She has more than 35 years of child welfare experience in a variety of roles including foster care, adoption, and prevention services. Shirlon has previously presented to the Child Welfare League of America on, “Race and Culture Consideration in a Comparison of ICWA and MEPA-IEP in Child Welfare.” She serves on many boards and committees, including on the Disproportionate number of African American children in Child Welfare and Washburn University Community Practicum Board. She has a passion for with working with young adults preparing to leave the foster, giving them the tools and skills they need to help them be successful once they are released from care.
Shirlon has a Bachelor and Master’s Degree from Washburn University.
Vice President of Permanency

Lue Nora DeWitt

Nora DeWitt is the Vice President of Permanency for EMPOWER, a program of TFI. In this role, she is responsible for serve the following counties in the Metroplex East Region: Dallas, Ellis, Navarro, Kaufman, and Rockwall.
Nora has worked in child welfare for the past 28 years. She retired from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) where she served as Program Administrator for both Conservatorship and Family-Based Safety Services. She also served as a Permanency Practitioner, Risk Manager, Academy Trainer, Investigator, and Legal Liaison. While working as a Program Director for the Department of Family and Protective Services she and her team were able to move over six hundred youth, who had been lingering in care, to Permanency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nora received her Bachelor’s Degree from Texas Woman’s University. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas.
Vice President of Permanency & Licensed Child Placing Agency Administrator

Brittney Pearson

Brittney Pearson, LMSW, LCPAA, is the Vice President of Permanency for EMPOWER. She is responsible for ensuring overseeing permanency services in most of Dallas County. Brittney also serves as EMPOWER’s Child Placing Administrator.
Brittney has more than 12 years of child welfare experience. She is a former Conservatorship Program Director for Child Protective Services in Dallas County. Additionally, she had a hand in launching Safe Babies in her program, served as the liaison for the Community Resource Coordination Group, as well as overseeing the drug court. Brittney also currently serves on Texas A&M University-Commerce Social Work Advisory Board.
She has her Bachelors and Master’s degree in Social Work. Additionally, Brittney is also a Licensed Master Social Worker and Licensed Child Placing Administrator.

We have confidence that everyone can make a difference today and contribute to where we go in the future.