“I have a background in working with kids in the community — kids and families — originally with [Department of Family and Children Services],” James said. “So having that background and observing those family dynamics, I really have a really strong basis of where these kids are coming from because I’ve been in those homes and seen what it looks like. So I think that my background of being a community provider really offers me some insight — insight that other people don’t have — into what their home lives looked like, things that they were exposed to and that kind of thing.
“So I think that’s a really valuable thing to have for the kids. … [Before I worked] in cooperation with DFCS, [providing] in-home community services to DFCS clients. So I was like the therapist that DFCS sent in to work with their families.”
A native of Cartersville, James graduated from Cass High School in 1994, before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in professional counseling.
Looking toward the future, some of James’ goals for Flowering Branch center on mental health and strengthening community relationships.
“I definitely want to continue to improve our relationship with the court and the other community agencies — DFCS and juvenile justice — because that relationship is invaluable in serving the kids,” she said. “One of our newest goals is to really put a treatment focus on mental health and having a good strong clinical team to serve the kids here because that’s something that we haven’t had in the past. [This is important] because these children that are coming to us from abusive homes have extensive trauma backgrounds that contribute to mental illness.”
Delighted James has joined the nonprofit’s “team,” Advocates Executive Director Patty Eagar said it is important for the organization to have someone with her education and experience in the director of Flowering Branch position.
“She had been working here as our clinical director for a year and a half or so and really had learned everything about the shelter, was already doing a lot of the functions of leading the shelter,” Eagar said. “[So] when the prior director left in August, we immediately knew that she was well-qualified to be the interim director.
“She has a way with all the staff and all the residents. The morale is so good with her here. She’s so professional and so calm, never gets rattled. Now, here we are several months later and she’s just the perfect fit for us.”