Vashon human services agency selects a new director

Ken Maaz, a former Vashon resident with several years of experience running human service agencies in Tacoma and Seattle, has been hired to head Vashon Youth & Family Services.

He'll begin the position June 1.

Maaz, 55, most recently helmed Jump Start, previously known as Faith Homes, a long-standing Tacoma-based agency that folded in 2008 after the economic downturn and fewer public contracts made it hard for the organization to continue.

Prior to that, he headed a Seattle-based organization called Second Chance, which operated several community corrections programs and behavioral health programs before it was absorbed by Pioneer Human Services.

Maaz lived on Vashon and commuted to his Seattle job and, later, his Tacoma job for four years — from 1998 to 2002. He also has family on the Island.

Returning to Vashon to direct VYFS, the Island's only all-around social service agency, "is a dream come true," he said.

"It's always been important to me to do my work in a setting that is meaningful to the community that I'm in. Certainly VYFS is that," he said.

"I admire what I know about VYFS," he added. "I think it does a good job of providing the services it provides. I'm excited about the direction the agency is going."

Maaz was one of three finalists who visited Vashon earlier this month to meet with Island residents. He was one of 99 who applied for the position.

Deanna Gildea, who chairs the VYFS board of directors, said that the organization's "exhaustive process" proved fruitful.

"He seemed like a really good fit," she said. "He has ties to the community. He has 18 years of experience working in human service agencies, primarily with juveniles. It seemed like he had good experience on both the administrative side and with the types of populations we work with."'

Diane Kjellberg, the agency's interim director, concurred. "He was relaxed in his answers, but at the same time he'll bring a high degree of professionalism. ... We're very excited about his coming on board. He was all of our top choice."

Jump Start, which Maaz headed from 2001 to 2008, was a highly regarded agency in Tacoma, according to press reports. It was founded by the Episcopal Diocese as a home for unwed mothers and separated from the diocese in the early 1990s. Along the way, it broadened its mission to provide a range of services to troubled kids, including residential services.

When the organization folded, The News Tribune wrote a story noting its "sad but orderly demise" months shy of its 50th anniversary.

Maaz said he, his board and staff worked hard to make sure the youth they were serving found other programs and placements. They also divvied up some of their services to other organizations that were able to absorb them and even ended their agency with some cash reserves that they gave to organizations to use for new or similar programs, he said.

"It was very important to us that if we were going to have to make a big move like that, that we do it responsibly," he said. "We wanted to have the resources and time to do what we could for our clients and programs and staff. We were able to get all of our clients placed. ... We feel like our legacy lived on."

At VYFS, he said, he sees a thriving organization headed in the right direction. With a staff of 14 and an annual budget of $881,000, VYFS is not a large agency. But Maaz noted that it's a vital part of the fabric of Vashon and said he is encouraged by its efforts at collaboration, growth and innovation.

"My goal is that we continue on the path to becoming the Island's service organization and that everyone feels that this is their organization," he said.

Maaz replaces Sam Collins, who stepped down last September.

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