Introducing AFS’s New CEO: Marsha Lewis-Akyeem

We are thrilled to announce that Marsha Lewis-Akyeem has been selected to lead Alternative Family Services (AFS) into the future as our next CEO. Marsha comes with over twenty years’ experience with all four child and youth related public systems: Child Welfare, Children’s Specialty Mental Health Services, Juvenile Probation and Education. Marsha began work on February 1. 

Marsha Lewis-Akyeem replaces Dr. Jay Berlin, the founder of AFS and its CEO since 1978. Dr. Berlin is retiring and will officially step away from the role in April 2022. Jay and Marsha will work together for two months to ensure a smooth transition. 

Introducing AFS’s New CEO: Marsha Lewis-Akyeem

Introducing AFS’s New CEO: Marsha Lewis-Akyeem

What led to the selection of Marsha Lewis-Akyeem as CEO? 

Marsha’s hire is in response to Jay’s retirement. The AFS Board evaluated many qualified candidates and conducted a thorough process. Marsha’s experience is broad and includes developing programs in the four principle public domains relevant to our growth strategy. Her values are closely aligned with those of AFS. She is a leader who is willing to develop people and to learn. 

The CEO selection process included the appointment of a board Succession Committee, multiple interviews with executive recruitment firms, the selection of a recruitment firm, and the development of a written succession plan that addressed applicant recruitment and evaluation, management surveys, and a thorough candidate selection process. 

What will Marsha focus on when she joins AFS? 

As the leader of a dynamic organization, Marsha will support the agency’s strategic priorities including expanding and diversifying our program offerings.  

Marsha is also committed to learning first and acting responsibly. She will spend time getting to know the organization and understanding its strengths and challenges. AFS will continue to focus on the valuable work already underway. 

More about Marsha 

Marsha graduated from University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She earned her Master’s Degree in Counselling from California State University, Sacramento. She also is a graduate of the Sierra Health Leadership Program for Executive Leaders in Non-Profits. 

Marsha is coming to AFS from Victor Community Support Services. Along with its sister program Victor Treatment Centers. Victor Programs serve children in 12 California counties.  Prior to Victor, Marsha worked as a Service Director at Families First. Marsha’s work resume includes a wide continuum of service modalities in conjunction with all four of the child-related public systems.  

  • Marsha’s child welfare experience, in addition to foster family agency and residential treatment programs has included starting and operating family reunification-oriented wraparound services, and crisis nurseries. 
  • Within the mental health arena, Marsha initiated foster care assessment and treatment, and intensive family services treatment programming.   
  • Projects relating to the juvenile justice system include juvenile justice assessment and treatment projects, court for individualized treatment (a criminal diversion program) and probation evidenced-based programming groups that focuses on creating social service and behavioral health interventions to prevent criminal recidivism.  
  • In the education realm, she has been responsible for non-public schools, school-based wrap and educationally related mental health services programming.  

This breadth of experience will help the agency achieve one of its prime strategic objectives – to expand and diversify our program offerings. 

Please join us in welcoming Marsha to AFS! 

Alternative Family Services

Alternative Family Services (AFS) provides thoughtful, informed foster care, adoption and mental health services throughout California’s San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento region. Since 1978, the mission of AFS has been – and continues to be – to support vulnerable children and families in need of stability, safety and well-being in communities through foster care, adoption and mental health services.

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