JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After more than 10 years at the helm, Kelly Schultz is leaving the Office of the Children’s Advocate as Director at the end of the month.
Several sources said Representative Becky Ruth, a real estate agent and former high school teacher, would be appointed to take over.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Schultz was quick to congratulate the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) team and expressed his best wishes for the next director.
“The last 10 years with the Office of the Children’s Advocate have been some of my greatest professional pride. I’m incredibly proud of the things I’ve been able to be a part of, ”Schultz told the Missouri Times, highlighting participation on committees and task forces, testimony given to lawmakers, and behind-the-scenes work on cases.
“I am often the public face of the Office of the Children’s Advocate. I was the only one to testify at committee hearings or to speak to the press about child welfare, but I think it’s really important that everyone recognizes that my proudest accomplishment is to constitute the Office of the Children’s Advocate team, ”added Schultz. “The staff who work here are the best and the brightest when it comes to child protection. While I might be the one speaking into the microphone, it’s because of their job. I have assembled a fabulous team, and they will always be there. I love the Office of the Children’s Advocate with my heart and soul, and I’m really excited to see the success of the next director. The work will continue. ”
Jessica Seitz, director of Missouri KidsFirst, has worked closely with Schultz over the years and praised the legacy she will leave at the agency. Her organization has worked with the Office of the Children’s Advocate since its inception, she said, and she is committed to continuing that collaboration.
“After a decade of service at the OCA, his fingerprints are featured on dozens of the task force’s legislative and policy recommendations – all of which promote the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable children,” said Seitz to the Missouri Times. “Missouri is fortunate to have an office of the children’s advocate. It is an agency that other states, including more recently our neighbor Kansas, are seeking to emulate.
Ruth, chair of the House Transportation Committee, has represented her Jefferson County district since 2014. She is a member of the Jefferson County Parents as Teachers Advisory Board and co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee for a Safe Place Women’s Shelter.
On Tuesday, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded him the 2021 Entrepreneurship Award.
Gov. Mike Parson’s office has not officially announced Ruth’s appointment to the post, although multiple sources have said she is upcoming.
Senator Holly Rehder, the new chair of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, said Ruth had “big shoes to fill”.
“Kelly has been a huge help to our district. We use their service often and I can’t sing their praises enough, ”Rehder said. “I know Becky also cares deeply about the protection of our children, and it has been an honor to work with her on issues affecting families in the past. I am delighted to see his passion working in this new role.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of the Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the United States, including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is originally from Missouri and studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also a former student of the National Journalism Center in Washington, DC
Contact Kaitlyn at [email protected]