Arms Wide Adoption Services Appoints New President and CEO

dejuanaAfter an extensive search, Arms Wide Adoption Services announced DeJuana Jernigan has been selected as the nonprofit’s new President and CEO. Jernigan will assume the role on April 13, 2020.

“I am honored and excited to be joining Arms Wide Adoption Services,” Jernigan said. “It is a privilege to be part of a credible, mission-driven organization that is committed to the work of transforming the lives of children in need of safe and nurturing, permanent families. My values and experience are perfectly aligned with this transformational work. Under Vikki Finley’s leadership, the organization has developed a sound reputation and is well-positioned for growth. I am looking forward to continuing this work with the talented team of professionals at Arms Wide Adoption Services. I am confident that, together, we will continue to make a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of many more children in Greater Houston and South Texas in the years to come!”

Jernigan succeeds Vikki Finley who is retiring after 22 years of service. In her retirement announcement, Finley stated transition and continuity will be the focus, and she will continue to assist the agency with the transition in whatever role the Board of Directors chooses.

Jernigan is a native Houstonian who brings more than 25 years of child welfare and leadership experience to Arms Wide Adoption Services. Jernigan received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston. Jernigan began her career in the child welfare field with Child Protective Services in 1994. For the last 13 years, Jernigan worked as the State Director of Child Welfare Services at DePelchin Children’s Center. She currently serves as President of the Texas Foster Care Association. Jernigan is an avid child and family advocate who is committed to the work that she does to help people heal and ensure that children are safe and families are supported to care for them.

“The Board and I are thrilled to welcome DeJuana Jernigan,” said Riz Amanullah, Chair of the Board of Directors at Arms Wide Adoption Services. “DeJuana is a proven leader and brings the experience and skillset needed to move our mission forward.”


Since 1977, Arms Wide Adoption Services has been expertly and compassionately transforming the lives of children in foster care by finding them safe and nurturing adoptive families. Taking the time to understand the needs of the individual child, find the right family and provide attentive guidance and support through placement and beyond has allowed the organization to successfully place more than 2,100 children in permanent homes. Arms Wide Adoption Services’ warm, personal and honest approach strives to guide children and families in Houston and South Texas through the complex journey of adoption to the celebration of a family fulfilled.  Additional information on the organization may be found at