Xavier Magazine

Profile: Shannon Starkey-Taylor


Master of Education in Administration, 2008

Vice President of Services, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati


Career Path | The Children’s Home is the only place Starkey-Taylor has worked since graduating from college in 1995. She started as a student intern. “On the last day of my internship, I remember thinking ‘I’m going to be back here.’ In August, I got a call. They wanted to centralize the intake process for the programs. It gave me a great overview. We had five programs at the time. I was 25 years old and new to social work. Now we have more than 20 programs and are considered a medium-size multipurpose facility.”

Career Ladder | She’s worked her way up the company ladder, and in her current role as vice president of services she oversees 70 employees, a $5 million budget and services for 3,500 children a year.

Early Starter | “My mom used to say, ‘I think you were a social worker in diapers.’ ”

Early Inspiration | Her mother was a reading specialist for Cincinnati Public Schools and her father an executive-turned-entrepreneur. “Mom also tutored kids after school. I remember there was one boy who would hide under tables. I saw a lot. My dad worked at P&G and started his own food and candy brokerage business. I get my leadership and business side from him.”

Blended Family | Another early influence was Starkey-Taylor’s immediate and extended family. She is the youngest and only biological child of her parents. She grew up with adopted siblings and frequently visited an aunt, who was a foster parent. “I grew up with this big blended family. We used to have Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt and there was always a new cousin.”

Claim to Fame | In 2001, she launched the Early Childhood Center at The Children’s Home. The Center was the first in Greater Cincinnati to incorporate features such as family rooms, natural light and soothing color palettes to create a home-like environment. The Center also offered a variety of programs under one roof devoted specifically to the care and education of young children, another innovation at the time in Cincinnati.

The Next Step | To extend the impact of the Early Childhood Center, she formed the Consortium for Resilient Young Children at The Children’s Home in 2004. The Consortium also is an innovator as the first local collaboration of experts in early childhood and mental health. It is supported by six other local agencies.

Greatest Success | “The Consortium really impacts systems. The professionals in early childhood and in mental health weren’t always working as well as possible together. The Consortium allows us to get experts together so we can improve the social-emotional skills of young people.”

Kindergarten Rejects | She came up with the idea for a consortium because she was alarmed at the preponderance of children getting kicked out of kindergarten for social-emotional development issues. “We helped bring the issue to the forefront. Social-emotional issues weren’t being carefully considered as children were getting ready to go to kindergarten. The only way to systemically make changes is through collaborations. No one agency could solve all of society’s social-emotional issues.”

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