New Director to take the reins in 2021
GLOUCESTER, BEVERLY AND SALEM, MA – February 11, 2020 – Pathways for Children, a leading provider of education and care programs on the North Shore today announced that its President and Chief Executive Officer Sue Todd is retiring at the end of 2020. Eric Mitchell, MPA, MS, currently the Vice President and Chief Operations Officer will succeed Sue as President and Chief Executive Officer.
Pathways for Children serves children from birth to age 13 and their families through programs including Early Head Start, Head Start, School Age Care, Family Enrichment, and Coordinated Family and Community Engagement. Each year Pathways delivers these vital services to over 500 children and their families from fourteen North Shore communities. Todd’s retirement caps her 40 years with the organization the last 34 year of which, under the guiding hand of her leadership, has led to the growth of the organization from one with a $500,000 annual budget and 45 employees to its current $8.6 million budget and 150 employees.
When asked about Todd’s retirement, State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said, “Sue is an absolutely remarkable leader who combines empathy and compassion for others with an exciting vision for the future. Sue has continued to evolve Pathways to meet the needs of the community.” Tom Zarrella, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pathways said, “I’ve never met an executive as dedicated to the job and mission as Sue.” He added, “The Pathways Board of Directors and leadership team has spent the past several years planning for the day when Sue and other long-time employees would retire. The succession plan has been deliberate, planned, and intentional.”
Pathway’s incoming leader, Eric Mitchell, a resident of Danvers, MA, has been with the organization since December 2017. “Eric’s background and education make him the ideal next leader for Pathways. He brings two master’s degrees, a graduate certification in human services management and a fellowship in early education and care,” said Todd. “More importantly, Eric understands the culture and the complexities of Pathways’ day to day operations that will ensure the organization’s continued success.”
Mitchell, who has over twenty years in the nonprofit sector specializing in large multi-site agencies serving children and families, said he was both honored and excited to be named the new President and CEO of Pathways. “I have had the fortunate experience of being with Pathways now for over two years. I’ve learned about the importance of Pathway’s place in the communities it serves and have been mentored by Sue who is one of the best in the business,” said Mitchell. He added, “The staff at Pathways are some of the brightest, most caring professionals I have ever worked with and the Board is committed to taking Pathways to the next level of success. I’m looking forward to leading this terrific group as we meet our mission to care for children and their families.”
Senator Tarr said, “Eric personifies many of Sue’s qualities. He is resourceful, energetic, and enthusiastic. People can take comfort in Eric as a talented leader. He has the ability to see a vision for the future and the capability to make it happen.” Board member Judson Reis said, “Eric shares Sue’s deep compassion. He brings organizational skills, acumen and intelligence and has really helped change, modernize and improve the organization. Eric is a fantastic leader.” And Zarrella noted that the Board, Sue, and the entire Pathways leadership has great confidence in Eric’s ability to lead the organization.
When speaking about the importance of Pathways for Children and its value to the communities it serves, Reis said that intervention from birth to age five is crucial to help young people be successful in the future and their success is vital to the communities in which they live. “The pressures of housing affordability, addiction, and trauma are felt acutely by kids in that age range. Pathways has social workers who stay engaged with children from birth to age 13. This continuity is important for successful outcomes.”
Nowhere are those successful outcomes more evident than they are with Taney (Stuart) MacLeod, who from age 5-14 was student at Pathways. “As the youngest of seven with an alcoholic father and a mom who struggled to deal with the situation and all the kids, Pathways was a happy place for me, and Sue was the force behind it all. Sue made me feel like she really cared for me. She always stuck with me, guided me, and taught me how to develop positive relationships,” said MacLeod, now a 43 year old who is a certified occupational therapist and works at a local rehabilitation center. MacLeod added, “My positive experiences at Pathways have naturally transitioned over to the work I do caring for seniors. My relationship with Pathways has also come full circle as I enrolled my great-niece there when I was caring for her. I knew Pathways was a place she’d feel accepted, loved and really cared for.”
Todd, Zarrella, and Reis were united in their sentiments that Pathways for Children has succeeded because it has a great team and that every employee has contributed to the success of the organization. Reis said, “At the heart and soul of Pathways for Children are dozens of people who work day in and day out to support the kids.” Zarrella added, “Pathways has strong individuals in place now in all leadership positions,” while Todd noted that “I often hear that other organizations envy our Board’s engagement and dedication. They are committed to the mission, highly educated and skilled.” Together the trio agreed that the strength of the Pathways team and Board ensures continuity and the organization’s continued success.
Todd said, “I can make this transition because I know I am leaving Pathways in great hands.”