Vernon Walters Jr., longtime leader of Nazareth Child & Family Connection, retiring

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, May 4, 2023

ROCKWELL — Vernon Walters Jr., who has led Nazareth Child & Family Connection for more than two decades, will retire May 31.

The president and CEO has guided Nazareth’s children’s home and other services the organization offers, including behavioral health counseling, family foster care and day treatment, for 24 years.

“I cannot think of May 31st without getting emotional,” said Walters in a news release,

 “Working with Nazareth to help the children and the families of our community has been my passion. It has been the honor of my lifetime, one that I will always cherish.”

When Walters, , who is 68 and has worked in childcare for 45 years, took the reins of Nazareth in 1999, it was basically one thing: Nazareth Children’s Home. Since then, Nazareth has added foster family care, mental health services, day treatment and substance abuse services. The nonprofit organization has also become a certified teaching family model agency and certified sanctuary model agency.

“Vernon has been the poster child for what a children’s home should look like,” said Gene Miller, chairman of Nazareth’s board of directors. “He’s very knowledgeable of all the Nazareth operations … financial, business, but more importantly it’s how he cares about the kids. He’s always very professional, but at the same time he’ll listen to any of the kids who want to talk with him.

“He’s going to be missed. His shoes are going to be tough to fill.”

In 2016, the organization underwent a name change, becoming Nazareth Child & Family Connection.  A new administration building was added along with the Swing Center, which is used for a community respite program and the Fisher Building, which is a group home. Nazareth also acquired and renovated buildings in Lexington and Salisbury to house outpatient treatment centers.

Walters also has helped grow Nazareth’s endowment substantially.

“Twenty-four years is a long time. But the past 24 years here at Nazareth have passed in a blur for me; it seems like I just walked in the door for the first time,” said Walters, who plans on spending more time with his wife Renee, his two sons and six grandchildren in retirement. “Somebody once said, ‘find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ They could have been talking about me and my time at Nazareth.”

Nazareth’s board of directors plans to have a new president and CEO in place by June 1.

Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection provides a safe and nurturing environment for children and families. In addition to the residential services for children and foster care program, Nazareth Child & Family Connection has outpatient facilities serving those with mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs.

For more information about giving or volunteering, contact Hugo Crigler, director of development, at 704-279-5556 ext. 113 or email