President & CEO
Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 1883
Industry Group Specific: Nonprofit, Community Services
After 20 years in the field in both the public and private sectors, Michael Shaver interviewed for CEO of Brightpoint in 2019 and shared his view of child welfare. “Simply put, we were failing children and families,” he said. “Despite significant increases in funding, oversight and accountability, child welfare was stalled in making meaningful progress in alleviating child maltreatment.”
As the president and CEO of the nonprofit organization, he strives to advance the wellbeing of children by investing in families to disrupt the systemic and multi-generational cycle of racial, social and economic inequality.
Brightpoint is a statewide social services organization providing a range of child and family services including early childhood, behavioral health, parent support, youth services and child welfare.
According to Shaver, the number of children entering foster care annually in the U.S. remains at over 200,000, even while showing declines in 2017. “After entering care, most children remain in the system for far too long; adding to this is the reality that 76 percent confirmed child maltreatment cases are due to neglect, which is something the foster care system is ill-equipped to address,” he said. “We are prioritizing the solution rather than the problem by focusing on prevention and investing in families with a two-generational service approach.”
Shaver has led the transformation as part of the organization’s strategic plan that has resulted in unprecedented growth and the launch of a different brand with a name change. As a result, Brightpoint has seen a 25 percent increase in topline revenue due to new programming capacity and has invested more in marketing. “The name captured two realities for our work: our desire to be a bright point for families when they might not feel so bright and the reality that these families represent our bright point for doing this work every day,” said Shaver.
While most define a titan as a giant, Shaver said he thinks of himself more as a bezoar – a small irritant that can force a much larger reaction that is size would predict. “While my vision and passion are large, the bureaucracies and larger systems in which my organization works are even larger,” he said. “These bureaucracies, networks and systems of care need the irritation of a bezoar; they need to be uncomfortable. This is what I think can make change within complex systems a possibility, even if that means the odds of success are limited.”
For testing the limits and devoting his career to health and human services, Shaver has been named a titan.