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Memoirs of a CEO

The Roadmap to Transformative Services

"Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat."

An uncensored look at me, AnnMarie McDowell, my life and service as a nonprofit CEO.  This memoir is a compilation of my personal struggles and triumphs navigating life as a single mom of four and leader of a $40 million nonprofit organization in Philadelphia.


This memoir will not only expose our experience through the last several years but will also allow for dialogue from others - from you, experiences from my team, and how all of this leads to the future of CORA as we discern not what is in place for children and families, but rather what NEEDS to exist that does not already. We are calling this our "Roadmap to Transformative Services."


to my story

The Life & Service of a Nonprofit Leader

We all have stories… real stories… stories that make us who we are and drive us to be what we become.  As the CEO of CORA Services, I have often felt isolated and unable to share what I experience personally because of my role.   I recognize that the world is starving for a new kind of leader - leaders who are relatable, real, honest, transparent.  That is the trusted leader. 

Because of the value of this agency I hunger to see CORA continue to be a strong voice in the education and human services world here in Philadelphia, I believe that our supporters and my employees should know who I am and what drives me to care about the work that I do.  

AnnMarie McDowell | President & CEO, CORA Services

AnnMarie McDowell, CORA Services

Throughout 2022, I had this gut feeling that the time had come to revolutionize CORA's service delivery, elevate our approach to fundraising, and reduce our reliance on government support that often comes with so many strings attached.  As we enter 2023, that gut feeling is even stronger. 

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what it will take for nonprofit leaders to transform our services and the way in which we deliver them.  It certainly doesn't require a complete overhaul of corporate or governance structure, but it does require creativity.  The behavioral health and education sectors rely heavily on government funding, but the availability of funds for children and families are determined by their status - insurance coverage, school they attend, community location, etc.

At CORA we have had many children who go months without services because of red tape.  They may not attend public school, or they attend a school that lacks the necessary resources.  Many times they are not eligible for services because their socioeconomic status puts them in a bracket that does not provide access to medicaid.   Their co-pay for services is beyond what they can meet to get the help they need, leaving them with challenging financial decisions to make.  Any family in that situation begins to wonder if the need of the family member exceeds the financial burden of their situation, which in turn can delay services.  Lastly, insurance companies often fight over who should pay for the evaluation or the ongoing care, particularly if it is behavioral health related.   

As the CEO of a large behavioral health and education nonprofit organization, I get the parameters and why they are in place.  But I want and need to figure out how to break this to ensure that every child, every family can receive the services and support they need whether they meet the system requirements or not.  

CORA is going to transform how services are delivered and we want you to be a part of our journey along the Roadmap to Transformative Services.

Why this?

Why now?

Roadmap to Transformative Services

Transformative Services? 

roadmap to transformative services

My personal journey

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