Executive Director, Powerful Families, Powerful Communities NJ
Benita R. Miller is currently the Executive Director of Powerful Families Powerful Communities and an Executive on Loan to the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families overseeing a five-year demonstration project created to re-imagine New Jersey’s child welfare system through a human-centered design process that leverages the voice of community members as co-designers. She previously served as the President and CEO of Children’s Aid and Family Services in New Jersey. Prior to her work in New Jersey, Miller served as the Executive Director of Brooklyn Kindergarten Society where she expanded the agency’s early childhood education footprint from five to seven centers as well as built the first sensory gym co-located in New York City Housing Authority development.
Additionally, Miller was the founding Executive Director of the NYC Children’s Cabinet in the Office of the Mayor as well as served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Family Permanency Services in the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). During her tenure with the Children’s Cabinet, Miller developed the City’s policy framework titled “Growing Up NYC” and digital platforms— Growing Up NYC and Generation NYC. She also created the NYC Baby Showers Series, coordinated the development of the city’s Unity Project focused on providing coordinated and enhanced services to LGBTQ youth and has been instrumental in improving policies for children and families impacted by incarceration. Additionally, she helped develop the City’s “Parent Engagement Project” which was a Performance Pilot Partnership federal grant focused on connecting young parents to educational opportunities as well as their children to high-quality childcare. Last, she secured a Robin Hood grant to improve policies and programs for children ages 0–3 years old by creating the Early Childhood Roundtable.
While at ACS, she led initiatives and operations related to ensuring the safety, well-being and permanency of all children receiving foster care services as well as caseload reductions and trauma assessment tools in family foster care. Miller developed the Housing Academy Collaborative to better prepare youth transitioning from foster care to supportive housing and NYCHA developments. She also strengthened services being provided to expectant and parenting youth and secured support from the Center for the Study of Social Policy to develop policies and programming for young fathers who are in foster care.
She created the Office of Older Youth Services and Residential Care Monitoring and oversaw the third phase of residential care reduction for ACS and also facilitated the co-location of ACS staff at Riker’s Island to ensure that youth who are in foster care were being appropriately served while awaiting the disposition of criminal matters. Miller also developed the Case Monitoring and Compliance Unit to enhance safety and risk assessments of children and youth being reunified with their families.
Before joining ACS, Miller served as Director of Scholarships at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where among other responsibilities she implemented programs for undergraduate and law student scholars. She is the founder and former executive director of the Brooklyn Young Mother’s Collective and is the recipient of the Union Square Award and Petra Fellowship on behalf of her advocacy work with young parents. She was also recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union as one of the top nine advocates to influence Title IX implementation. She previously represented children and young people in child protective, delinquency, and PINS proceedings in Brooklyn Family Court as a staff lawyer with the Legal Aid Society. Miller earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Print Journalism from Wayne State University where she was a Rosa Parks Scholar at The Detroit News. She earned her law degree from Syracuse University in 1996. She serves as a board member for many nonprofit organizations including Strategies for Youth and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Ms. Miller joined the Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors in January 2022.