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News and Opinion Mar 22, 2018

Turnaround for Children Names New President and CEO

Brigid Ahern to Succeed Turnaround for Children’s Founder, Pamela Cantor, M.D.

Innovative nonprofit chooses dynamic new leader with broad-based education, operations and management experience to meet demand for trauma-informed strategies and tools, grounded in science, that help districts, principals, teachers and school staff drive healthy child development and academic achievement.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 22, 2018Turnaround for Children’s Board of Directors announced today that it has voted unanimously to name Brigid Ahern President and CEO, effective June 1, 2018. Turnaround’s Chief External Affairs Officer since 2014, Ahern has overseen the Communications, Development, Executive Office, Policy and Systemic Impact teams, and served on the organization’s leadership team, driving the strategy that positions Turnaround to meet growing demand for its work translating science into educational practice at scale.

“From the moment that Brigid Ahern first came to Turnaround for Children as its Chief External Affairs Officer, it was clear that she had the potential to become its future leader,” said Richard Barasch, Chairman of Turnaround for Children’s Board of Directors.

Ahern will succeed Turnaround’s visionary founder and leader for the past 16 years, Pamela Cantor, M.D. Cantor, a child psychiatrist specializing in trauma, will continue to serve Turnaround in a new role, as Founder and Senior Science Advisor. As the title suggests, she will focus on the scientific underpinnings of Turnaround’s work, which includes implementing key findings from two recent papers she co-authored for the peer-reviewed journal Applied Developmental Science. The papers explore what can be done to help all children develop in healthy ways.

“I could not be more pleased with the selection of Brigid Ahern as Turnaround for Children’s second President and CEO,” said Cantor. “Brigid is a dynamic, creative and results-oriented leader. I believe that Brigid is the right leader, at the right time, to enable this organization to unleash its full potential. I look forward to being her thought partner in this process in the years to come.”

Prior to Turnaround, Ahern worked for the charter network Uncommon Schools, where Norman Atkins served on the board. “I am a huge Brigid Ahern fan,” stated Atkins, co-founder and president of Relay Graduate School of Education. “Brigid led Uncommon Schools’ development team through its most aggressive and successful period of growth and is well positioned to lead Turnaround at this dynamic point where it is experiencing tremendous opportunity to support leaders, teachers and students nationwide.”

Jim Shelton, Head of Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which supports Turnaround’s science to practice initiatives, added his support for today’s announcement. “Long before recent events reminded us all of the criticality of equipping schools with the strategies and tools to identify and meet the full range of students’ emotional and mental health needs, Turnaround for Children was focused on and taking a rigorous approach to this important work. I am glad they are bringing the same rigor to their transition from Dr. Pamela Cantor’s leadership to Brigid Ahern’s, since founder succession is often what separates impactful organizations from good but fleeting programs.”

“I am so honored to be given the chance to build upon Turnaround’s strong track record of success by stepping into this role at such a pivotal moment in our organization’s history,” said Ahern. Our work on behalf of schools and students may be challenging, but it is of critical importance.  I am more convinced than ever of the vitality of our mission and of our ability to effect meaningful and transformational change.”


About Turnaround for Children

Turnaround for Children acts as a catalyst for change by raising awareness about and addressing the challenges that affect any school facing adversity, particularly those in high-poverty communities. Turnaround develops tools and strategies, grounded in science, that cultivate a safe environment, reduce stress, increase engagement in learning and accelerate healthy student development and academic achievement.

Founded in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Turnaround has worked with 111 school partners to date. During the 2017-18 school year, Turnaround is serving 5,000 students and 600 school staff through school and system-level partnerships in New York City, Newark, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The organization’s applied science and consulting staff equips educators to minimize the effects of trauma and stress on student learning and development.