New Hope Cottage CEO Helps Children Get ‘Best Possible Start’

Teresa Lenling brings experience designing and advancing education programs as vice president of school and community engagement at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science to her new role as CEO of Hope Cottage.

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The nonprofit Hope Cottage, which nurtures and builds families through education, parent support, foster care, and adoption services, is embarking on a new strategic plan. 

“Our goals include increasing impact for North Texas families and their children, while also looking to work with strategic partners who share our focus of giving all children the best possible start within nurturing, loving families,” Lenling said.

She found herself drawn to Hope Cottage’s rich history and century-long legacy of supporting North Texas children and families.

“It’s incredible to think about the thousands of families whose lives have been touched by our adoption services over the decades,” Lenling said. “At the same time, Hope Cottage continues to evolve over time, so now our work includes foster care, parenting education, support for parents in crisis, and youth education.”

Kerry Fitzgerald, chair of the Hope Cottage board of directors, praised Lenling’s experience.

“Hope Cottage has grown its services over the years, but it has always retained a very warm and personal approach to working with families of all background.”

Teresa Lenling

“We believe Teresa is the ideal leader to help Hope Cottage continue building on its strong, 102-year foundation of adoption services through our expanding work in foster care, new parent support, and teen education,” Fitzgerald said. “As we embark on a new strategic plan this year, she has the right mix of expertise and community connections to increase the impact and visibility of our work, ensuring children grow up in the best environments possible.”

At the Perot Museum, Lenling crafted the vision and operations for the museum’s education programs when it opened its new downtown Dallas location in 2012. She also designed the museum’s new TECH (Tinker, Engineer, Create, Hack) Truck mobile maker initiative, launching a comprehensive outreach and engagement strategy that engaged communities that do not typically visit a science museum. 

PN: Was there something in particular that drew you to Hope Cottage?

Teresa: Hope Cottage has grown its services over the years, but it has always retained a very warm and personal approach to working with families of all backgrounds. That is true whether you’re looking to foster or adopt a child, you’re in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, or you’re a parent who loves your children, but needs support and education to provide a stable home. With my experience in youth and community impact programs, this really appealed to me. On a personal level, as a parent, I was drawn to Hope Cottage’s comprehensive approach to ensuring all children have the best start to life.

PN: A fun fact about you?

Teresa: I grew up in rural South Dakota, where I spent most of my childhood in the great outdoors skiing, riding snowmobiles, and exploring. I am now proud to call Texas home but still miss the winter snow of the Midwest.


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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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