Maureen Blaha is the executive director of the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), formerly known as the National Runaway Switchboard, the federally-designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. Under her leadership the visibility of NRS and awareness of its 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline has grown, while support has steadily increased in both personnel and finances.
Several key accomplishments have been realized during Blaha’s tenure including:
- An assessment of the NRS brand, which led to the introduction of a new name in 2013 to better connect with the youth and families it serves;
- Advances in how the organization uses technology such as the launch of the NRS mobile website and Tumblr in 2012 to add to its other web and social media properties, including live chat, Twitter and Facebook;
- A program focused on runaway prevention called Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum;
- An annual comprehensive trend data report of crisis calls to 1-800-RUNAWAY used to educate and raise awareness about the runaway crisis in America;
- "Runaway Youth Longitudinal Study 2011" research that identifies the long-term effects of running away as a youth, which can be used to better educate and encourage parents, teachers and other adults to get involved, address the issues, and ultimately prevent a runaway situation;
- And National Runaway Prevention Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the issues facing runaway youth and to educate youth, families and the public about resources available to prevent youth from running away.
Additionally, Blaha has been a featured speaker of the Special Victims Assistance Unit for the FBI (2005 and 2010), was invited to speak to UK parliament to help launch The Children's Society of England's national Safe and Sound Campaign (2005), and represented the runaway population at the groundbreaking White House Conference on Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children (2002). Blaha was selected as the recipient of the CASA of Cook County 2010 Spirit Award and selected to participate in the Laura and John Arnold Giving Library for high-end donors. Blaha serves on the Interstate Commission for Juveniles, appointed in 2009.