BERLIN — Steven Taylor officially took over the leadership role of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) this week after the planned departure of former Executive Director Teresa Fields.
WYFCS has been providing family therapy and other related youth services in the area for nearly 30 years. Fields played a vital role in creating the positive reputation the agency enjoys today, according to Taylor.
“I am extremely fortunate because Teresa has left the organization very strong, both in terms of the administrative perspective and also in terms of how the organization is helping the community,” Taylor said.
The fact that the “organization is structurally in a very good place” at Fields’ departure should help in the transition, Taylor said.
In his role as executive director, Taylor acknowledged that he doesn’t have a background in youth services or mental wellness but he has spent years in the non-profit world, beginning as the first executive director for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP).
Besides MCBP, Taylor has worked in environmental consultation and research as well as owning a kayak eco-tour company, Ayers Creek Adventures. Over the past several years, he has volunteered for WYFCS events like the annual Halloween celebration but that involvement was only “peripheral,” said Taylor, and nowhere near the degree of emersion that he will be taking on as executive director.
“I was born and raised here in Worcester County and went to Stephen Decatur High School and graduated from there,” he said. “Then I left the area to go to college and lived away for about 25 years.”
After leaving the MCBP, Taylor worked in New Jersey for a non-profit before returning four years ago to open Ayers Creek Adventures off Assateague Road with his wife, Suzy. He believes that the skills he picked up in the environmental non-profit sector will translate well to managing WYFCS, especially in areas like pursuing grant funding.
The key is to track the grants that fit with WYFCS directives and admitting that there are times when even lucrative funding should be given a pass if the conditions don’t work.
“You’re constantly trying to wed the grant funding ability with your goals so there’s this constant struggle to get the two to match,” Taylor said. “And sometimes you just can’t.”
As Taylor becomes better acclimated directing WYFCS, he is confident that any gaps in his knowledge will be filled by the organization’s staff. The staff members’ level of experience and reputation are impressive coming in, he said.
“There’s a large team of people. There are almost 30 people I think, so it will be a large group to manage,” said Taylor. “But I think people in that field care a lot about what they do so the management of the team will be relatively easy because of that.”
One direction that Taylor will be exploring early as director will be in finding new ways to promote WYFCS and increase awareness in and outside of the Berlin community.
“I think there are some changes. I think we need to market ourselves even more than we have in the past,” he said. “We’ll probably do some social media things in trying to promote the organization.”
The idea is to take a “two-prong approach” and connect with current clients as well as people in Worcester who may have never heard of WYFCS. While a stronger emphasis on social media will be the keystone in Taylor’s strategy, more traditional methods will also be explored.