DeKALB – Colleen Parks comes from a family of public servants and is going back to her clinical roots as the new clinical services director for DeKalb County's Family Service Agency.
Parks, 47, of Hinckley, has been named the director of clinical services for the center for counseling at the agency, and will begin her new role Monday. The DeKalb County Family Service Agency offers programming such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, youth mentoring, counseling and senior services. Parks previously served as a manager for the advanced care planning services at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital.
Parks will oversee therapists in her new role, asess community needs and develop and implement new services for the counseling center, according to FSA Development Director Sara Slavenas. Parks also will write and review grants for the agency.
"I'm really super excited," Parks said Friday. "I come from a long family line of law enforcement, firemen and nurses, and it's kind of in our blood."
With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Parks has worked across a spectrum of social services, including discharge planning, emergency services, behavioral health, hospice, home care and oncology.
Tynisha Clegg, the agency's executive director, said Parks' background made her uniquely qualified to take on the challenge of running the counseling center, a position which has been vacant for a year.
"[Parks] has many years of experience in the clinical field," Clegg said. "When I took over as executive director in March, one of my goals was to get a clinical director that could take our center for counseling programs to the next level. We really needed some strong leadership, and I truly believe we found that in [Parks]."
Parks received her degree in social services at the George Williams School of Social Work at Aurora University. She is a licensed clinical social worker with a heavy emphasis in mental health and senior care, which she said is "where [her] passion lies."
"I'm hoping we can expand our clinician group [at FSA], and add some substance abuse services," Parks said. "[Also] do more in the geriatric field, more partnerships with local nursing homes and help with case management in the mental health community."
Park said she has an "eclectic approach to leadership" and will put that mentality to the test at family services.
"I like working with various populations, and as a leader, I'm not going to ask you to do a job that I'm not going to do myself," Parks said.
At Northwestern, Parks said she grew her social services office from five social workers in 2002, to 32 workers by the time she left in 2016. During that time, she pursued further education so she could better support the variety of social workers under her leadership.
"You're only as good as your team," Parks said.