The Children’s Center Utah Connection

September 2022 | Vol.9

Dear Friends, 

Founded in 1962 by Agnes M. Plenk, PhD,

The Children's Center Utah remains the only organization in the state providing trauma-informed, evidence-based mental health care treatment exclusively to infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families and caregivers to enhance their emotional well-being.

The growing need for a specialized preschool for children struggling with emotional challenges became the foundation of our organization. What started as a group home serving thirty-two families, has become an essential mental health provider for families and caregivers with young children. As well as a training center for mental health professionals and other early childhood providers.

Today, we serve over 1,200 children and their families and caregivers every year. From our humble beginnings in a community church, our organization has grown to employ a team of over 100 compassionate experts dedicated to improving mental health outcomes for Utah children and their famiies. 

The continued support and partnership of the community, volunteers, and donors, who gift hope and healing to families who have felt discouraged about their children's future contribute significantly to our work's success. Since 1962, hundreds of committed clinicians, therapists, and team members, in partnership with our board of directors, have continued to advance Agi's vision of giving children the tools they need to thrive. 

Thank you for being by our side during this incredible journey.  We invite you to join us as we celebrate our 60-year anniversary in the coming year. Your continued engagement will ensure many more years of hope and healing for children and families!

reb sig.jpg

Rebecca J. Dutson

President and CEO

RSVP Today! Open House

Celebrate with us 60 years of serving thousands of children and families in Utah. 

"... Johnny spent fifteen months in treatment, about five months longer than most children, but Johnny was not “most” children. He was from a state that did not have early intervention programs for preschool children. When Johnny left the Group Home for a permanent home with adoptive parents Johnny said “Thanks” to The Children's Center."

Group Home Supervisor, 1985 

RSVP Anniversary Event




Congrats to our Board of Directors Chair, Kathleen Pitcher Tobey, on her new position as Executive Director of the Call to Action Foundation! 

Kathleen, your unique talents, expertise, and passion to serve those in the community make you a perfect fit for this role. You will be great!


We are excited to welcome Brooks Keeshin, MD, and Jennifer Smith to our 2022-2023 Board of Directors. 

Their commitment to serving the community will create a lasting impact for the families we serve. 

Brooks Keeshin, MD

Associate Vice-Chair of Research in Child Mental Health

Hunstman Mental Health Institute

Dr. Keeshin is a child abuse pediatrician and child psychiatrist.

He directs the Pediatric Integrated Post-trauma Services (PIPS), a Category II Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the Utah Psychotropic Oversight Program.

He is active in several national organizations and serves on multiple boards of directors. 

Jennifer Smith 

Executive Vice President and Chief Technology and Operations Officer Zions Bancorporation

Jennifer's work has been recognized multiple times by various industry organizations and she has held positions on multiple nonprofit boards. 

Most recently, she was honored as one of American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2021 and Women to Watch in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017; won the Women Tech Council’s Technology Leadership award in 2018; and was one of Utah Business’s CxOs of the Year in 2019.

In 2013, she was globally selected as an International Women’s Forum Leadership Fellow; the following year, she was selected to the first cohort of Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders.


Mental Health Awareness Month

Our first cause marketing campaign was a success!

During May, twelve community partners around the Valley joined our efforts on breaking the stigma that still, in 2022, exists around the topic of mental health—from children’s mental health to adults.

List of Partners

We are looking for organizations, local businesses, and community leaders like you to further strengthen infant and early childhood mental health and its many positive outcomes for our state. 

If you or your company are interested in a giving or awareness campaign, contact our Marketing and Communications Manager, Carla Frein at


In June, we hosted our biggest in-person fundraiser of the year at the Gallivan Center. The 2022 SHINE Gala featured over 100 silent auction packages, a live auction, and two opportunity drawings. 

We are still amazed by the incredible support we received from sponsors, donors, volunteers, and community partners.

Together, we raised over $630,000 to champion children's mental health. Thank you to everyone who made this possible!

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors 

View Full List of Sponsors
Event Photos

Special thanks to our Challenge Grant Champions for matching all increased, new, or lapsed donations, dollar for dollar–tripling qualifying investments in infant and early childhood mental health care.

Food Truck Face Off

More than 25 food trucks gathered at Liberty Park in July for the eighth annual Food Truck Face Off.

Proceeds from the event benefitted

The Children's Center Utah, Fourth Street Clinic, and Utah Community Action. 

Thank you to everyone who joined us and helped raise over $60,000 for these three local nonprofits! 

We were so excited to be part of this event for the first time and look forward to next year! 

Special shout-out to all our partners and sponsors for helping us make Utah’s largest food truck rally for charity a success.

Visit for Upcoming Information 

CCI Golf Tournament

On behalf of the young children and families we serve, thank you to CCI Mechanical for hosting their annual Charity Golf Tournament benefitting The Children’s Center Utah and raising over $70,000 to support our mission!

We are so grateful for their steadfast support and commitment to children in our communities.

Are you interested in hosting your own golf tournament? We hope so! Contact Mary at

Summer All Staff Family Gathering

During the summer, we invite our team and their families to celebrate the milestones we have achieved as an organization.

In July, we attended a Salt Lake Bees game at Smith's Ballpark. We observed work anniversaries, enjoyed dinner, and recognized the home runs of the last couple of months.

We are grateful for our team, who makes a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most. Special thanks to our Employee Council for planning this outstanding event!

Team Members in the Spotlight!

Diana Diakow was awarded the 2022 American Board of Professional Psychology’s Arthur Nezu Diversity Dissertation Award.

The ABPP wrote: “Your dissertation, HUMANITARIAN WORKERS’ PERSPECTIVES ON MENTAL HEALTH AND RESILIENCE OF REFUGEE YOUTH: IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY, was rated highest amidst a field of strong competition. Your dissertation represents a real contribution to the diverse literature and reflects the values and work of Dr. Nezu. Your research certainly deserves this award, especially since its implications have significant benefit for many people.”

Congrats, Diana on this amazing achievement. We will you well!

Fall All Staff Retreat

On September 16, our team drove to the mountains to attend the annual fall retreat and spent the day learning from each other's work. 

Board of Directors member for The Children's Center Utah, Theresa Martinez, Associate Professor of Sociology and former Assistant Vice President for Academic Outreach at the University of Utah, and Yamila Martinez, MEd, provided important Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB) training, to further strengthen this core value for our organization. To see our organizational, EDIB statement, click here.

Our team enjoyed time in nature and experienced  Snowbird resort's summer activities.  


Ready! Resilient! Summit 

Our 2022 Ready! Resilient! Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Summit, presented by Governor Spencer J. Cox and First Lady Abby Palmer Cox will take place on November 17 from 9:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m. 

During this time, a keynote speaker and a panel of experts will highlight the importance of infant and early childhood mental health and present key strategies to further improve Utah’s systems and outcomes.

Save the Date

Upcoming Events


November 2-4 - Hope and Healing Virtual Fundraising 

Help us raise $60,000 in 60 hours to celebrate our 60th Anniversary!

November 17 - Ready! Resilient! Summit


March 2 - Jewelry Luncheon 

June 9 - SHINE Gala 

Summer 2023 - Food Truck Face Off 

Your investment matters more than ever. Your generous gift helps us continue our mission to provide comprehensive mental health care to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families.

Make a Donation
Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter