President & CEO

Kathryn R. O'Day, LCSW

Kathryn R. O'Day, LCSW

Kate O'Day, President & CEO

Kathryn R. O’Day, LCSW, has dedicated her career to ensuring thousands of American children are flourishing in strong, healthy families.  In Kate's seven years as Gateway’s CEO, more than 800 children have achieved safe, stable permanency.  This is a snapshot of what Kate O’Day has accomplished for more than 40 years as a game changer for children and families.   

Kate has extensive public and private-sector experience championing positive change for children across the southeast.  Before her tenure at Gateway – Birmingham, Alabama’s first and oldest social services agency – Kate served as the State of Tennessee’s Commissioner of Children’s Services, as well as CEO of Child & Family Tennessee and VP of Children’s Home Society of Florida.

  • Florida: In Florida, Kate was charged with the responsibility to bring organizations together to respond to the first request for proposals for a Lead Agency (that eventually became Community Based Care organizations).  She cowrote and led the negotiations for the first contract for community-based services in Daytona Beach, Florida.   
  • Tennessee: In Tennessee, O’Day served Governor Bill Haslam as the State of Tennessee’s Commissioner of Children’s Services.  In this role, O’Day led efforts to expand foster care services to youth up to age 21 and implemented data-driven life-safety initiatives.  O’Day also made major reforms to the state’s youth development centers, courageously closing those that were utilizing outdated methods from the adult correctional system.  Through her experiences in the nonprofit and public sectors, O’Day brings needed perspective, abilities and clinical expertise to Alabama.  

  • Alabama: Today, O’Day serves as President and CEO of Gateway, Birmingham’s oldest social services agency, whose founders helped establish Alabama’s child welfare system.  Throughout her six-year tenure at Gateway, more than 300 foster children have returned safely to their families; more than 400 families have stayed together through preservation counseling, and more than 120 foster youth have become working young adults.  

Thanks to Kate's visionary leadership, Gateway has experienced change process as a result of Gateway's strategic plan.  This has resulted in Gateway shifting 100 percent of Gateway's mission and resources to child permanency, trauma healing and evidence-based behavioral healthcare.  Gateway is also one of the only agencies of its kind in Alabama accredited by The Joint Commission.  Kate's ability to partner with Gateway’s Board of Directors, develop staff, and strategically plan for the future has helped Gateway achieve courageous goals and continue as a state leader in family solutions. 

Kate earned her Master of Social Work at Florida International University and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Florida. She performed her post-graduate training in Therapy and Mental Health from the Samaritan Counseling Center of South Florida.

Published by The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) 

Kate served as co-editor for the publication, Becoming the Change We Seek: Stories from CEOs in the Voluntary Sector, released fall of 2022 by CWLA.  The publication's foreward, "Leading and Learning from the Future," authored by Kate, summarizes the collection of essays “focused on—and dedicated to—the executive and voluntary leadership of child and family services organizations. Its purpose is to highlight the unique history, capacity, contributions, and future promise of this extraordinary and longstanding movement.“ Eight CEOs of child- and family-serving organizations discuss their career journeys, lessons learned, and hopes for the future of child welfare. 

To read the full publication and purchase a digital PDF, visit CWLA's Bookstore.