Jacky Tiotto, who was previously the director of social care inspection development at Ofsted, will join Cafcass in Autumn this year.
Cafcass said Tiotto, who has previously been a columnist for CYP Now, will lead the organisation's "social workers and corporate staff in achieving the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families", as they go through the family courts.
Tiotto described the opportunity to lead Cafcass as a "complete privilege".
"The protection of children, the needs and experiences of families and the responsibilities of the state in this regard are issues of huge importance to our society and for me personally," she added.
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"Cafcass negotiates these issues on behalf of children within the family courts on a daily basis.
"The demand and complexity of the work cannot be underestimated and I am delighted to be able to lead the organisation and to learn from its work as we continue to give a loud and authentic voice to the children who need and deserve our help."
Edward Timpson, Cafcass's chair of the board, said Tiotto's "unique insights, proven leadership and deep understanding of children and families" would be "vital" to the organisation.
Tiotto has held a number of senior professional roles, including as head of the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, and as the lead official to Lord Laming's Review of Child Protection in England.
The strategic leadership role is accountable to the Cafcass Board, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and to parliament.