Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families has hired Shawna Morris, president and CEO of Phoenix House of California and Texas, as the new CEO at Casa Pacifica starting in mid-July.
Current CEO Steve Elson will retire after 25 years at the helm of Casa Pacifica, a crisis care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Elson announced his plan to retire last year to the board of directors and staff, and the board hired the firm of Morris & Berger to perform a national search for his replacement.
“We are confident we have picked a talented leader in Shawna Morris for our next chapter. Shawna is the ideal person to take over the reins from Steve,” said board President William Powell in a news release. “We searched the nation for the best CEO and found her right here in our own backyard.”
Elson will stay on at Casa Pacifica for a year on a part-time basis to participate in the transition.
“We are so grateful to have had the leadership and vision of Steve Elson for our first 25 years and we will have opportunity to celebrate his legacy when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” said Powell.
Morris, a Simi Valley resident, said she is proud to be taking the reins after Elson.
“I am quite humbled and blessed to be taking over from Steve,” said. “When I Interviewed for the job with board members, I asked each one of them a question: ‘Why are you here?’ All of them said we are here to advance the well-being of our youth. Every single board director said, ‘I am here for the kids.’ I said, that’s where I want to be.”
Morris, who has a master’s degree from the University of Kansas, was senior vice president and chief operating officer at the Menninger Clinic for 18 years before taking over as president and CEO of the Phoenix House California and Texas.