By Evan Ratke
There is no hiding the fact that the work taken on at enCircle is difficult. Despite the challenges, however, enCircle can find reassurance in the unwavering dedication displayed by its employees, both new and long-term. And in the case of Chauncey Strong, a former employee of enCircle who has recently returned to the organization as a member of the Board of Directors, dedication has defined a career focused on improving the welfare of children and families.
“I worked for enCircle for 10 years, and for about the last five of those years, I ran the treatment foster care and adoption region in Richmond,” Strong says.
A native of New Jersey and a graduate of Norfolk State University’s Masters of Social Work program, Strong didn’t just happen upon enCircle at one point in his career. Rather, enCircle is the place where his professional career began.
“I really started out at enCircle. It was my first real full-time job, right out of grad school,” Strong says. “And I was as green as the grass is long, I had no clue what I was doing, just that I was very passionate about trying to help kids.”
That passion is prevalent throughout enCircle. Where that devotion is derived from depends on the individual employee. For Chauncey Strong, though, the commitment is personal.
“I was in foster care, so a lot of my interest in it is based on my own personal experience with foster care and adoption,” Strong says. “I always say that foster care and adoption impact you for the rest of your life. The work these foster parents are doing, and some of them might even become adoptive parents, is just laying a foundation for these kids for the rest of their lives. So I’m just very passionate about this work, and trying to make sure that every young person has a better experience, but at least an equal experience to the one I had in foster care and adoptive care.”
Strong has worked toward that goal wherever he’s gone, culminating in the foundation of his own consultancy firm.
“I left enCircle in 2003 and moved to northern Virginia. Then I went to a couple of different private treatment foster care agencies and foundations, and I found, really, my love and passion for not just doing the direct work but trying to impact how the policies are made, how the decisions are made that influence the work that we’re doing. The last place I ended up was the public sector, Fairfax County, which at the time had the largest number of kids in care. That experience gave me a little sense of understanding of all the things that have to happen even before kids come to enCircle or a private agency. I just realized that there was so much work that had to be done to improve how we’re doing things on the public side that did have a negative effect on kids in care. So I decided to take a leap of faith and branch out as a consultant with my own firm.”
Strong resides in northern Virginia with his wife and daughter. Busy as the responsibilities of his consultancy firm have become, he’s excited by the opportunity to work with enCircle once again.
“It’s a different organization now. The population has morphed, but it’s still right in line with the mission of serving the vulnerable. It’s a nice full circle to be able to come back and be on the Board.”