David Dennis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Eckerd Connects, one of the largest national nonprofits advocating for children and families. Under Mr. Dennis’s guidance, the once exclusively residential treatment organization has expanded into a nationwide, multi-service organization creating community-based options for children, young adults, and families.
When David Dennis began as CEO in 2007, he implemented a framework designed to ensure the company’s long-term adaptability. The effectiveness of his processes and strategies earned a published chapter in the Alliance for Children and Families’ book titled Making Strategy Count in the Health and Human Services Sector: Lessons Learned from 20 Organizations and Chief Strategy Officers. Under David’s leadership, the number of children and families served by Eckerd Connects has more than tripled, and the organization has developed more than 120 programs across the country. It now operates in more than twenty states and the District of Columbia with an annual operating budget of $220 million.
Over the past ten years, Eckerd Connects has become one of the most experienced and trusted partners in helping states transform their systems of care. In fact, in Florida alone, the organization’s community-based lead agencies act as the child welfare system manager for a system that is larger than fourteen states and the District of Columbia. From this expansive operation emerged Eckerd Connects Rapid Safety Feedback®, the organization’s innovative analytical software and identification tool. This technology has been so successful in quickly identifying cases with issues that pose the greatest risk to children that it is now employed in several states. The system has also been recognized by the US Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.
During David’s time with Eckerd Connects, he has established strategic collaborative partnerships that resulted in three organizational mergers — the first of its kind in the organization’s fifty-year history. These partnerships stem from David’s belief in “merging missions to scale success and increase impact”. His vision for collaborative service has also lead to the development of Eckerd Connects’ nationally respected performance-based workforce development services. A strong advocate for quality employment readiness training and education, David works to give people access to the resources they need to find jobs.
David’s twenty years of leadership experience span each sector of the social services industry. He has served in the areas of workforce development, behavioral health, juvenile justice, child welfare. David has directed for-profit, private nonprofit, and publicly funded government organizations. He has also led for-profit human services organizations as well as various large public/ private partnerships.
David often shares his personal story of adversity and second chances. Removed from his alcoholic mother’s care after his father’s death, David is passionate about connecting people to the opportunities they need to succeed. David has earned certifications as a licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, and childcare administrator. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from Southwestern Baptist Seminary.