Deb Tomaso Retiring in August as Executive Director of SCFF
Tomaso joined the nonprofit organization as a board member in 1996 and became executive director in 2004. She gave eight months’ notice in announcing her retirement plans to the board of directors.
“I wanted to give them ample time to find the right person,” Tomaso said.
Board President Jim Lombardo praised Tomaso for her longtime commitment to the organization. “Deb has been an excellent manager over a time of significant growth for the Center,” Lombardo said. “She led the staff through major changes and the expansion of services for children and families.”
In 2002, Tomaso supervised a milestone move for the organization, the conversion of a private residence into the facility where Saratoga Center for the Family provides mental health counseling, abuse prevention programs, education programs and victim advocacy to hundreds of local children and families each year.
After a fire in 2013, she managed the Center through a move to temporary quarters and oversaw the building renovation. “Deb and her team made sure there was virtually no disruption to the Center’s ability to serve its clients,” Lombardo said.
Kelly Daugherty, the clinical director for the Center, has been with the agency about three years.
“She’s been an amazing mentor to me and amazing for the agency,” Daugherty said of Tomaso. “Last year we served a record number of clients through our mental health counseling services, our prevention and education programs and our Child Advocacy Center program. And she was instrumental in helping us grow into the Shenendehowa school district and creation of the Heel to Heal program. I’m sad to see her go, but happy she’ll be able to enjoy retirement.”
Jennifer Wormley, the coordinator of the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center, a program of the Saratoga Center for the Family, and has worked with Tomaso for five years.
“We have come in to work to paint walls on the weekends and we cried together as we walked through the Child Advocacy Center the morning after the fire,” Wormley said. “Yet through it all are the moments when we can appreciate the fruits of our labor. I get to share with her the excitement that is expressed by the children who come to the CAC and get to put their handprints on the wall, or a quote by a child when they tell us how much better they feel now that they have ‘let it all out.’”
Wormley said Tomaso would respond to those moments saying, “That’s what it’s all about, that’s why we do what we do.’”
When Tomaso first joined the board, she was executive director of an independent, nonprofit health center in rural Corinth. That facility became a satellite of Glens Falls Hospital at about the same time the Saratoga Center for the Family’s executive director position became open.
“Deb’s move from board member to administrator made for a smooth transition for the Center,” Lombardo said.
“It’s a bonus to have sat on both sides of the table. I’m responsible for running the agency and I’m accountable to the board, but I also have an appreciation for how the board looks at things,” Tomaso said. “You can have a better exchange of information.”
Tomaso said her decision to retire this year was sparked in part by her husband’s decision to retire and a desire to spend more time with their two young grandchildren. Still, she said, she is so proud of the good work of the organization, and the decision was not easy.
“It’s been a wonderful time. I have been so blessed by the people I’ve met along the way, and inspired by the caring, supportive people in our community,” she said. “There are so many agencies vying for the same dollars, and from where I sit in the nonprofit sector, the people here are so generous.”
A search committee to fill the vacancy will begin its work shortly, Lombardo said.