Dr. Angela Pittman – Vanderweide

Angela Pittman- Vanderweide, DSW, MSW

Leadership Development & Consulting Services

Angela has over 28 years of experience in progressively responsible executive leadership roles, including private, non-profit, state and local government. Through that lived experience, Angela has developed the ability to partner with others to enhance performance and meet organizational, fiscal, and client outcomes. Angela has subject matter expertise and national expertise in health and human services leadership (neuroleadership model), organizational development, consultation, change agility & implementation, resource capacity building, fiscal and performance oversight, organizational culture and climate effectiveness, and workforce retention. In addition, Angela has over 20 years of university teaching and training experience, including in classroom, synchronous, and asynchronous methodologies. Angela provides subject matter expertise and presents nationally on leadership, building a resilient workforce across HHS, cultivating a healthy, resilient organizational climate, and establishing continuous quality improvement to improve child welfare performance measures. 

Angela holds a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) degree from the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota. Angela recently published an article entitled Leadership Rebooted: Cultivating Trust with the Brain in Mind” which forwards a model of leadership that is aligned with human service organizations mission, values, and ethics. Angela lives in NC on a small family farm with her husband (the COO) and daughter. She loves to be outside, plant and tend the garden, hike, read, cook plant-based, whole food meals, and research all topics social work.

  • Published author on neuroleadership in human service organizations and other topics related to child welfare and health and human services.
  • Depth of and demonstrated understanding of statute, policy, and quality practice within human services with a focus on child welfare.
  • Demonstrated commitment to cultural humility, diversity, inclusion, and equity in workforce and service delivery.
  • Accomplished relationship builder who engages the workforce, partners, and community to achieve short and long-term strategies to meet organizational, fiscal and client outcomes.
  • Work extensively with federal and state partners, organization directors, executives & Secretaries, legislators, Judges, non-profit and for-profit organizations, and university and private college systems.


            My experience of twenty-eight years leading large, public, integrated health and human services organization has been the driver of my evolving leadership style.   Through both successes and failures, I have identified my strengths, built upon those, and gleaned even more from my failures.  My strengths include a strategically focused vision that balances quality service delivery, fiscal stewardship, and a focus on positive organizational, fiscal, and client outcomes through the most essential tool of service delivery – the workforce – professional social workers and case workers.  Authentic engagement, investment, and incorporating feedback loops with all levels of the organization drive my leadership strategies.  Further, building a trauma-responsive organization, including workforce wellbeing (addressing secondary traumatic or cumulative stress) through a variety of supports for the multi-generational workforce, helps forward trust and retention.  To that end, my leadership style is focused on implementing neuroleadership behaviors, in order to create a healthy, resilient culture and climate.  

The neuroleadership behaviors include (Zak, 2017):

  • Ovation – Recognize excellence and celebrate success
  • Expectation – Setting reasonable performance expectations
  • Yield – Discretion in performing job tasks
  • Transfer – Encouraging “job crafting” and aligning strengths with job duties
  • Openness – Communicating, listening, and sharing information broadly, often and consistently
  • Caring – Intentionally building authentic relationships
  • Invest – Facilitating whole person growth
  • Natural – Leading with integrity, humbleness, authenticity, and vulnerability


Other important aspects of my leadership style include:

  • Visionary leadership – A systems thinker, with the ability to pivot quickly, based on landscape demands; focus is forward thinking innovation, strategy to lead towards outcomes and performance metrics through engagement/partnership, integration, streamlined, efficient, effective service delivery in order to meet outcomes
  • Change Agility (“change maker”) – Implementor of change through a strategic, integrated approach that is outcomes driven
  • Data driven decision making – Decisions are balanced with data, yet includes the story behind the data
  • Influence and motivation through relationships and partnerships, utilizing the neuroleadership behaviors
  • Integrated approach to human services system


     The result of implementing neuroleadership is crucial to successful organizations through workforce retention and achieving outcomes.  Neuroleadership also aligns directly with social work values and ethics and can also benefit the classroom. Through both my teaching and work experience, I bring knowledge of managing large budgets, implementation of large scale community change initiatives, and strong relationships with university partners, legislators, and policy makers.  Additionally, I bring specific knowledge of workforce retention, focused towards social workers.  This effort must begin in education and continue throughout the students’ career.  For example, my team improved retention by 30% over a five-year period through a variety of sustainable strategies, including addressing secondary traumatic stress, implementing a practice model, and neuroleadership strategies.

     Neuroleadership, a combination of brain science and psychology, has traits and strategies aligned with the mission of human services, as well as the values and ethics of social work. Further, neuroleadership directly addresses the findings from organizational culture and climate theory research related to the social work profession.  Understanding the psychological and physiological responses of the workforce within the work environment help leaders adjust their approach, improve trust and motivation, and increase performance. Application of this integrated approach provides implications for social workers in both direct practice and leadership roles in human service organizations.  Leaders then have a map to retool themselves, their thinking, and their organization for improved retention and enhanced achievement of client and organizational outcomes.  Insightful, strategically implemented change positions the organization, clients, and the workforce to thrive.