TACFS is looking forward to seeing our colleagues from around the state at next week’s Texas Child Care Administrators Conference, “Beyond the Horizon.” There will be no shortage of engaging presentations and conversations, presenting many opportunities for training and networking.

One of the most anticipated workshops of the conference will be “Leaning In to Authentic Leadership: An Exploration of Strategies for Leading from Within,” presented by DeJuana S. Jernigan, the President and CEO of Arms Wide Adoption Services in Houston. Hundreds of conference participants have already signed up to attend — probably because they were wowed by DeJuana’s presentation on authentic leadership at last year’s conference.

“Last year was about the theory around authentic leadership and the characteristics of an authentic leader,” DeJuana said. “I thought this time around I would go into some practical steps, some strategies and some real things that you can do to develop as an authentic leader.”

DeJuana’s interest in authentic leadership dates back more than 15 years to a class at her church titled, “Creating a Life that Matters,” as well as a study of don Miguel Luis’ bestselling book, “The Four Agreements.” At that time, DeJuana began to lean into the concept of authenticity as a human being. 

“It’s important, especially in child welfare, for people in places of influence to look at the concept of servant leadership,” she said. “The folks who are doing the work — your direct care staff, your case management staff — they’re the ones that are making it happen. As a leader in child welfare, my job as I see it is to make sure that the folks who are touching our children and the lives of our families directly are the ones doing the real work. My job is to make sure they have the resources they need to do that, as well as the tools, to be able to make that happen. That comes from my personality as a servant.”

The session on authentic leadership will be from 2:15 to 3:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24.