Ian Thomas received the accolade in the Queen's New Year's Honours List, for his outstanding contribution to local government and children's services.
Shortly before taking over as interim director of children's services at Rotherham Council in 2015, Thomas described his task as "the most difficult job in Britain".
By the time of his departure in 2018, the service was rated "good" by Ofsted, having been judged "inadequate" in 2014. His appointment followed a damning inquiry into the sexual exploitation of at least 1,400 children in the Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.
Thomas was last month appointed chief executive of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames, after seven months in a similar post at Lewisham Council. He had previously been director of Derbyshire children's services for three years.
The council boss is a trustee of women's charity Pause, whose founder Sophie Humphreys was also honoured this year, having been appointed an OBE.
Other senior children's services professionals to be appointed an OBE are Helen Johnson, head of children's services at The Refugee Council; Janice Spencer, assistant director for children's social care at Lincolnshire County Council; and Shahed Tariq, Leeds City Council's deputy director of children and families.
James Cliffe, manager of No Wrong Door, which supports children in care at North Yorkshire County Council-run Stepney Road Children's Centre, was awarded an MBE.
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
- Karen Kaufman, head of external affairs at Busy Bees Childcare, for services to children and families.
- Louise Walker, head of social work and professional standards, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, for services to adult and children's social care.
MBEs for services to fostering:
- Joan Duncan, Lambeth Council foster carer.
- Elaine Koerner Somerset County Council foster carer.
- Michael and Mandy Terrell, Plymouth City Council foster carer.
- Helen Wood, Derbyshire City Council foster carer.
- Colin Wood, Derbyshire City Council foster carer.
Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)
- Aimee Hinton, social worker at Essex County Council, for services to children's social care.
- Joan Pantony, scout Leader at 5th Sittingbourne Scout Group in Kent, for services to young people.