Shirley Marcus Allen

FOUNDER and Managing Director

Shirley Marcus Allen is the Founder and Managing Director of the Kirkland Byrd Group, LLC. Ms. Allen has deep leadership experience in the human services sector. She is recognized as a high performing leader, one who has spent considerable time in the government and nonprofit arena, yet effectively integrates the best of for-profit principles in her strategic management approach. 

Prior to establishing the KBG, Ms. Allen served as a Partner with Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) from 2003-2014. VPP is a high-engagement philanthropic investment firm that provides significant multi-year growth capital and strategic management support to nonprofits serving children and youth of low-income families in the National Capital Region. Ms. Allen led several highly successful investments that resulted in the organization's major growth and expansion into new communities, as well as improved outcomes for the populations served. She worked collaboratively with researchers at the  Brookings Institution to research and analyze changing demographics in the National Capital Region and their impact on  the human service delivery system, especially for low-income children and youth.

From 1991–2002, before coming to VPP, Ms. Allen served in the executive roles of Deputy Director and Vice President of Membership Services, respectively, at the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). There she held responsibility for six regional offices throughout the country and supported the missions of over 800 public and private member agencies, developing and convening numerous conferences, trainings, and meetings every year. CWLA membership includes local and state government agencies and nonprofits providing direct service and advocacy on behalf of abused, neglected, and abandoned children. Earlier, in 1988, Ms. Allen was appointed by the Mayor of Baltimore City and the Governor of the State of Maryland to serve as Director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, providing a range of income-support, social services, child welfare, and child support services to over 200,000 residents. 

Ms. Allen has a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Morgan State University and a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore. She has served on the boards of the National Human Services Assembly, Year Up-National Capital Region, Child & Family Services Agency-DC, National Advisory Committee for the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, and United Way of Central Maryland, and on the Morgan State University Board of Regents, where she chaired the Academic and Student Affairs Committees. She currently serves on the boards of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection of Prince George’s County, and the University of Baltimore Foundation.