Shawna Morris

Shawna Morris

Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, a crisis-care and residential treatment facility for foster or at-risk children, announced Tuesday a transition in its leadership.

The board has hired Shawna Morris as the new chief executive. She will take over from Chief Executive Steve Elson — who has served Casa Pacifica since its nascent days in 1994 — in mid-July.

Currently, Morris is chief executive at Phoenix House of California and Texas.

“We are confident we have picked a talented leader in Shawna Morris for our next chapter. Shawna is the ideal person to take over the reins from Steve,” said Board President William Powell. “We searched the nation for the best CEO and found her right here in our own backyard.”

“I am quite humbled and blessed to be taking over from Steve,” Morris, a resident of Simi Valley, said in a statement. “When I interviewed for the job with board members, I asked each one of them a question: ‘Why are you here?’ All of them said we are here to advance the well-being of our youth.’”

Elson will stay on at Casa Pacifica for a year on a part-time basis to participate in the transition.

“We are so grateful to have had the leadership and vision of Steve Elson for our first 25 years and we will have opportunity to celebrate his legacy when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” Powell said.

During her time at Phoenix House, Morris oversaw a chain of six in-patient facilities along with a number of outpatient addiction and mental health treatment programs. At Phoenix House, she has been credited with improving the facility’s financial performance, reducing staff turnover and developing a strong, positive corporate culture. She also led the charge to separate the California and Texas branches from the national Phoenix House Foundation in New York City into independent corporations.