Adoptions From The Heart is excited to announce that Executive Director, Maxine Chalker, is a winner of the 2016 Smart CEO Magazine’s Brava Award!
“The Brava Awards program celebrates high-impact female business leaders in three categories: CEOs, Executive Directors of Nonprofits, and C-suite executives. Brava award winners combine their irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community, and are exemplary leaders of both their companies and their communities. They encourage local philanthropy, mentor up-and-coming leaders and set their companies on the path to tremendous growth. Each year, an independent committee of local business leaders selects winners based on company growth, community impact and mentoring. SmartCEO shares their inspiring stories in SmartCEO magazine and celebrates their success at a high-energy awards gala.”
Chalker’s dedication to creating a solid business model for the agency while also supporting its clients is what has earned her this prestigious award. Her drive for programs like the Birth and Expectant Parent Support Fund, providing assistance to those in need during or after pregnancy, sets her apart from most. Her involvement in the local Main Line and Philadelphia communities shows her love for not only the home of her agency, but the people and places in and around it. Chalker shared, “I have worked hard to create an agency with a mission that strives beyond just placing children for adoption by supporting all members of the adoption triad through ongoing contact and open communication. Earning this award is flattering but there is always more we can do to help improve adoption practices locally and around the country.”
Heidi Gonzalez, Assistant Director at AFTH and daughter of Maxine Chalker shared, “I am so proud of what my mother has achieved so far, because we all know she isn’t done yet! She founded Adoptions From The Heart in the hope of making adoption better for all parties involved and she continues to strive for new ways to improve the lives of women and children.” These are practices Gonzalez plans to continue when she eventually takes on her mother’s legacy and has already started to do with her innovation of programs such as the Birth Parent Scholarship Fund, helping birth parents get back on their feet by awarding them with funds to go to trade school or university.
Chalker received her award at The Crystal Tea Room in Philadelphia, PA. Board member McKenzie Ann Frankel of Entrust Financial LLC attended and accepted the award on Chalker’s behalf.
To celebrate the accomplishments of Chalker, board members, employees, and other close friends got together for a happy hour celebration the following week at Tango Bistro in Bryn Mawr, PA. Gonzalez made a lovely toast and everyone congratulated Maxine during a fun evening of food and drinks!
Below you can learn more about Chalker and her role in founding and running Adoptions From The Heart. For reference, is a licensed, non-profit full-service adoption agency offering all adoption and home study services as well as counseling for both prospective and expecting parents. With 8 offices, the agency is licensed in PA, NJ, DE, VA, CT and NY.
Founder & Executive Director
Role at AFTH
As an adoptee herself, Maxine Chalker founded Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH), in 1985, then known as The Adoption Agency. Her goal was to run an agency that supported and focused on Open Adoption. After trying to find out more about her own birth family, Chalker felt there had to be a better way that supported the wants and needs of everyone involved in the adoption triad.
The Agency began in the basement of Chalker’s home. She found success due to both her personal experience as well as her degree in social work. Once Chalker could rent a space for The Agency, it began to grow at an exciting rate. From 1985 to today, Chalker has secured licenses in six states and currently has offices in Wynnewood PA (headquarters), Central PA, Allentown PA, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, and Delaware, as well as consultants in New York. By the 90’s Chalker was able to expand from one or two social workers per office and bring on a financial manager, a clerical team, and more social workers for the serviced areas.
In the years between 1987 and 2008, the agency offered international adoption options in Columbia, South America, China, Guatemala, and Europe. Although international programs ended in 2008, it was not before Angelina Jolie adopted her child through AFTH’s Vietnam program. These options allowed the agency to grow and gain the attention of more and more families.
In 1994, Chalker changed the name of The Adoption Agency to Adoptions From The Heart to show the love and support that comes from a team devoted to Open Adoption. Thanks to Chalker’s dedication, the agency reached an exciting milestone of 6,000 children placed in 2011 and celebrated 30 years of service in 2015.
Chalker had no financial investments when the organization began in her basement. AFTH has never had a business loan or grant, and receives no money from foundations. As a non-profit, AFTH secures donations from private fundraising and today is a 5 million dollar corporation that strives to use their funds to support all members of the open adoption triad.
Education and Work
Chalker graduated from Temple University Summa cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and then received advanced standing for a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She graduated as a Presidential Scholar.
After her education, Chalker worked for a public Child Welfare Agency and because of what she saw in the field that was then dominated by closed adoptions; she was inspired to begin her own agency that could do things differently.
In addition to founding and running Adoptions From The Heart, Chalker participates in professional organizations including the Society of Professional Women.
Maxine Chalker was adopted through a closed adoption and is the mother of daughter, Heidi Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the Assistant Director of the organization and Chalker says she will be proud to pass the agency and her legacy to her daughter when she retires.