Kristen Howell named CEO of Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County


Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, which provides education, justice and healing for abused children, named longtime children’s advocate Kristen Howell, LMSW, it’s new chief executive officer. She replaces longtime executive director Dan Leal, who left Lewisville-based CACDC in late August to move to the Austin area to be closer to family.

Ron Aldridge, interim executive director, will continue his duties until Howell takes over Monday.

Howell was most recently the chief programs officer at Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, where she provided oversight to all of the direct service programs at the Advocacy Center including the forensic services team, the clinical services team, the family advocate team and the Research Institute.

Prior to that, Howell worked for three years at Momentous Institute as director of development and Genesis Women’s Shelter for 10 years as clinical director and director of development.

She has worked in the field of social work and family violence for the last 20 years. Howell graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and the University of North Carolina with master’s degree in social work.

“She has the right combination of skills we need to keep CACDC moving forward,” stated Brian Hayduk, board chair, in a press release. “Her passion and experience made her the perfect choice.”

In the press release, Howell stated she is “humbled to take the helm of CACDC.”

“We have our work cut out for us,” she stated in the release. “We must complete our capital campaign, we are almost ready to break ground on our addition to our Lewisville office and we must stand at the ready for every new child that walks through our door with an allegation of sexual abuse or severe physical abuse.”

In fact, the executive announcement comes on the eve of CACDC’s 20th anniversary celebration in Denton. All proceeds will benefit the expansion project, and CACDC hopes to raise more than $50,000.

“Having worked in this field for the last 20 years, I am ready to hit the ground running so that we can realize our potential as an agency, just as the kids who walk through our doors realize their potential because of this agency and the values of justice and healing that we are able to offer to families,” she stated in the release.

Howell is married to Bill, an attorney in Dallas, and has two daughters. She leads trainings and speaks nationally on the impact of violence and trauma on families.

Aldridge served in the interim for two months. He is one of Leal’s mentors, but Aldridge, 74, and brought out of retirement, didn’t want to be considered for the permanent post. Leal now is executive director of Austin-based Seedling Foundation.

“We are grateful for Ron’s exceptional leadership and dedication to the families of Denton County as well as the staff, volunteers and donors,” Hayduk stated in the release.

Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County’s was established in 1997. It’s mission is to empower child abuse victims, their families and our community through education, healing and justice.

In 2017, the number of interviews of abused children conducted at the center is up 33 percent over last year. The center also provides 250 therapy services per week to victims of child abuse and their families, the press release stated. Of the cases handled at CACDC, 94 percent of arrested perpetrators received a felony conviction. publishes every week.
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