Council for Relationships Celebrates 90 Years of Marriage and Family Therapy, Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer

Council for Relationships (CFR) has been an innovator and change agent for 90 years. Dr. Emily Mudd founded the Marriage Council of Philadelphia in 1932 with the goal of helping couples build healthier relationships and providing women with information on birth control. At the time, the field was so new that there were only two other organizations doing similar work in the U.S. and no training programs existed for marriage counselors. Under Dr. Mudd’s direction, the Marriage Council became the first center in the country to establish a program to evaluate the effectiveness of counseling.

A champion of women’s rights and a pioneer of couple and family counseling, Dr. Mudd’s expertise in working with women to explore their intimate relationships made her a trusted consultant to renowned doctors and therapists such as William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Dr. Mudd published five marriage counseling textbooks and continued to see clients into her eighties although she formally retired from the Marriage Council (now CFR) in 1967. Dr. Mudd left a legacy in individual, couple, and family therapy that CFR continues today.

Today over 70 therapists and psychiatrists serve nearly 5,000 people in-person at 10 offices and community-based locations in the greater Philadelphia area and online across PA & NJ. Nearly 25% of CFR clients received therapy at low or no fee this year. CFR holds a unique place, not just as a provider of high-quality counseling services, but as one of the first, and the nation’s premier, training centers for marriage and family therapists in the country, educating the next generation of skilled therapists. CFR staff are dynamic, generating knowledge through research, in addition to the counseling services and educational courses that they provide, all of which build a strong foundation of mental wellbeing for those in need.

As a woman-founded organization, CFR is pleased to welcome Jeannine Lisitski, Ph.D. as its ninth Chief Executive Officer. Jeannine joins CFR from CORA Services, where she was Chief Program Officer. Prior to that role, she served for over a decade as the Executive Director and President of Women Against Abuse (WAA), a Philadelphia-based organization that provides quality, compassionate, and nonjudgmental services to persons experiencing intimate partner violence, and helps to lead the struggle to end domestic violence through advocacy and community education. In her tenure at the helm of WAA, Jeannine led the organization to achieve certification in the Sanctuary Model of trauma-informed care and win the Lipman Family Prize out of The Wharton School for social innovation in pioneering a citywide plan to address relational violence. Prior to her work with WAA, Jeannine worked with and received an award from CFR for establishing a partnership with Project H.O.M.E. in her role on their senior leadership team.

“I am extremely pleased Jeannine has accepted our offer to become the next Chief Executive Officer of Council for Relationships,” said CFR Board Chair, Dave Bricker. “Following an extensive search, informed by feedback from staff and with the involvement of the Board, we are all confident Jeannine is the right person to lead the organization in our next phase of growth.”

“I am thrilled to join CFR at such an exciting time in the organization’s history,” said Lisitski. “As CFR celebrates 90 years of marriage and family therapy, I look forward to building upon that legacy and connecting with the clinicians, staff, students, donors, and community partners who will help make history in the years to come.”

A New Jersey native and Philadelphia resident, Jeannine holds a Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Research from Bryn Mawr College, a M.A. in Applied Psychology from Rowan University, and a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Stockton University. In addition, Jeannine holds certificates in executive leadership from Bryn Mawr College and Harvard Business School. She begins her new role at CFR on April 25th.

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Jessica Willingham

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