Be the Change Announces Kevin Jennings as New President and CEO

Be the Change announced on Thursday that, following a national search, Kevin Jennings will succeed Alan Khazei as President and CEO. Mr. Jennings will officially begin his new role on July 25, 2011.   

Josh Bekenstein, Board Chair and Managing Director of Bain Capital, had this to say about the change:

We are delighted to draw a leader of Kevin’s caliber to succeed Alan. His experience both leading a national nonprofit as well as working in the federal government makes him the ideal leader to take the reigns as Alan takes on new challenges.

Alan had this to say about his experience at Be the Change:

I’m deeply grateful to everyone – board, staff and supporters – who has made Be the Change possible and been critical to our success. I’m excited to turn over the leadership of Be the Change to Kevin. Given the extraordinary depth and breadth of success he has had in his previous roles, I am confident Kevin will lead Be the Change and our programs to new heights.

Mr. Jennings currently serves as Assistant Deputy Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, where he heads the department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, a position to which he was appointed by President Obama in 2009.  In this role he has led the department’s efforts to create safe and supportive learning environments in schools, most notably through the creation of the new Safe and Supportive Schools grant program in 2010 and an extended national campaign against bullying, culminating in the White House Conference on Bullying on March 10, 2011, keynoted by President Obama.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says this of Kevin:

Since 2009, Kevin Jennings has served with distinction, leading our efforts to make our schools safe places where every child can focus on learning. We are proud of his dedicated service to the Administration and wish him all the best in his new role at Be the Change.

Kevin Jennings, too, is excited for his new role:

It has been an honor to serve in the Obama Administration and specifically on Secretary Duncan’s leadership team at the Department of Education. I am incredibly excited to return to the nonprofit sector by joining the Be the Change team and working on issues like promoting public service and increasing economic opportunity, the kinds of critical challenges we must solve if America is to continue to thrive in the 21st century.

Prior to his time in the Administration, Mr. Jennings founded and led the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. During his 14 year tenure as GLSEN’s founding Executive Director, GLSEN put the issue of safe schools at the forefront of the national education agenda, increased the number of students protected by inclusive anti-bullying legislation by more than 600 percent, and grew the number of school-based and student-led clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, from under 50 in 1995 to over 4,300 when he stepped down in 2008. Under Jennings’ leadership, GLSEN signature programs like No Name-Calling Week, the National Day of Silence and the Ad Council’s Teach Respect campaign became commonplace in America’s schools.

Prior to his time at GLSEN, Mr. Jennings taught high school history in Providence, Rhode Island and Concord, Massachusetts and served as faculty advisor to the nation’s first Gay-Straight Alliance student club.  He holds a B.A. magna cum laude in History from Harvard College, an M.A. in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Among his other honors, Mr. Jennings has received the Human and Civil Rights Award of the National Education Association, the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Diversity Leadership Award of the National Association of Independent Schools.

You can see the complete press release here.

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