Gov. Nathan Deal has named Katie Jo Ballard as executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families and announced that First Lady Sandra Deal will serve as chair of GOCF’s Advisory Board. Ballard replaces Jen Bennecke who is leaving the post to devote her time to her growing family.
“We have no greater responsibility than caring for our most vulnerable populations,” said Deal. “As a society, if we do nothing else, we must always do everything in our power to assure that our children are safe and that they get their best shot at a good life.
“Sandra has agreed to chair the advisory board for the Governor’s Office for Children and Families as the work of this agency is very close to her heart, and I am optimistic about what we can accomplish in the coming years,” he said.
In the upcoming weeks, the first lady will continue to travel the state visiting various sites to see firsthand the work GOCF does throughout Georgia’s communities.
“It is my hope that these travels will reveal things we are doing right, as well as areas in which we can further improve,” she said. “Jen has been a delight to work with and she has done great work on behalf of Georgia’s children and families. I am truly honored to serve in this capacity and I look forward to working with the advisory board, Katie Jo and her team to make Georgia a better place for our children and families.”
Ballard, a native of Habersham County, previously served as Gov. Deal’s director of Constituent Services. In this capacity, she oversaw 15 employees of the staff who handle constituent correspondence and serve as a liaison between Georgians and state agencies. Ballard received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Public Health from the University of Georgia. She and her husband, Dylan, live in Atlanta .
Created in 2008, GOCF’s mission is to empower Georgia communities to achieve improved and sustainable outcomes by working in a system of care framework to ensure that all children, families and adults are educated, healthy and safe.
Just this past year, GOCF served more than 210,000 of Georgia’s children and parents and administered 213 grants in communities throughout the state.