Carlos Hernandez’s 20-year experience in the behavioral health field has run the gamut from social worker and case manager to administrator. Recently named president and CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona, Hernandez, 44, says his new role is the next logical step in his career.
“JFCS reminds me of a lot of organizations in Chicago that are very grassroots and community based, initially what were settlement houses” in the early 20th century, he told the AJP. Having grown up in a very diverse part of Chicago “I understand JFCS’ devotion for more than 70 years to the Jewish community, but that it’s also very valuable to our neighborhoods and the wider community,” explains Hernandez. He adds that 70 percent of those served by JFCS are not Jewish.
Hernandez and his wife, Nora Navarro-Hernandez, moved from Chicago to Tucson in 2005. “We wanted to be in a smaller city with better weather, and start a family,” he says. His first position here was as director of quality management at Pantano Behavioral Health Services. Most recently, he was director of community partnerships at Child-Parent Centers.
His experience has included providing services “for children, adolescents, families, to community collaborations that bring psychotherapeutic counseling to children and caregivers, all with sensitivity to the needs of our multicultural community,” said Jill Rosenzweig, chair of the JFCS board of directors, in her announcement following a national search.
In Chicago, Hernandez was research project coordinator with Children’s Memorial Hospital, a part-time social work consultant, program supervisor with the Association House of Chicago’s independent living program, and a case worker for that organization’s foster care program.
Hernandez holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago. He is a former member of the Pima Council on Aging board of directors, and serves as adjunct faculty at Pima Community College and Arizona State University’s School of Social Work.
In his new position, says Hernandez, “I want JFCS to continue focusing on quality counseling services and all its other services. I want JFCS to immediately come to mind when people are looking for behavioral health and other services.” He also wants to expand JFCS funding based on a broad community assessment, determining who would support more services. “There are still so many people who aren’t being served who can be served,” he notes. “For the last three years I worked in Child-Parent Centers, with very young children ages birth to 5, which was different for me. We offered preventive services. Why not focus more on prevention than on treatment” in the future?