Organization: Turnaround for Children

Location: New York, NY

Express Interest

About Turnaround for Children:

Too many students are behind in school and too many schools don’t know what to do about it. Science is key to understanding the problem and key to the solution.

By studying the impact of adversity on the developing brain, Turnaround for Children is on to something big. It is connecting the dots between poverty, stress, and academic performance. Turnaround translates the science that explains the impact of stress on learning and behavior into tools and strategies that teachers and administrators can use to cultivate a safe environment, reduce stress, increase engagement in learning, and accelerate healthy student development and academic achievement.

Turnaround for Children’s vision is that one day, all children in the United States will attend schools that prepare them for the lives they choose. Turnaround 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. Over the past 15 years, the nonprofit has grown from an idea into an organization with a $15.2M annual operating budget and over 60 employees. Currently, Turnaround partners with 13 schools in New York City, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, DC, serving more than 5,000 students and 600 teachers. Turnaround is also expanding its reach via partnerships with KIPP DC and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), by providing hands-on professional support, coaching, and training sessions to leadership teams and educators. Most children attending Turnaround’s partner schools are Black and/or Hispanic and the organization works to attune educators to systemic and cultural barriers and biases, historic and present, that can interfere with student success.

Turnaround’s strategy includes two major areas of work in service of the organization’s mission: First is a focus on applied science – working closely with schools and educators to translate the science of learning and development into integrated practices and tools that accelerate healthy student development and academic achievement. Second is a dual focus on (a) consulting to districts, states, and partner organizations to change policies, and (b) training educators on Turnaround’s tools and insights so that the organization’s knowledge and practices are scaled to reach many more children impacted by adversity.

Turnaround’s tools and services focus on professional development and technical support for educators and school leaders. These resources provide an integrated approach to building relationship-rich, safe, and supportive school environments; improving adult capacity to model and teach critical social, emotional, and cognitive skills; and purposefully developing student skills and mindsets that are critical for success in school and beyond. When coupled with rigorous academic instruction, Turnaround’s tools and services accelerate healthy student development and academic achievement.

Turnaround’s thought and field leadership are critical to achieving these two strategic goals. Over the past 15 years, Turnaround has helped to shape the context in which it works. Through written publications, videos, books, press, digital assets, high-visibility presentations, and external relationship building, Turnaround has sought to ensure that people working throughout the education landscape – in schools, communities, districts, states, federal government, nonprofits, and more – recognize the impact of adversity on learning and development, believe in an integrated approach to whole child development, and want to do something about it. Turnaround’s core insight about adversity and stress is recognized across the country, and as a result, the organization is experiencing significant demand for tools and practices that educators can use to promote healthy student development and accelerated academic achievement.

In 2016-2017, Turnaround’s impact included:

  • 100% of partner school leaders would recommend a partnership with Turnaround for Children
  • 100% of Turnaround partner schools showed improvements in classroom organization and student engagement, according to third-party classroom observers
  • 91% of partner schools reported more supportive relationships among students and improved professional relationships among staff
  • Turnaround trained 22 DCPS principals and more than 250 DCPS social workers and psychologists on how to use a trauma-informed lens. 85% of principals trained reported changing their practices as a result
  • 94% of students referred for mental health services in New York City were seen within 30 days
  • More than 25 presentations were delivered to key audiences, including practitioners, researchers, and policymakers, on the impact of adversity on learning and development and how educators can build environment, skills, and mindsets that counteract the effects of adversity

For more information on Turnaround for Children, visit

The Opportunity:

This is a time of transformation and opportunity at Turnaround for Children. For 15 years, Turnaround founder Pamela Cantor, M.D., has led and grown the organization in partnership with a highly-engaged and expert leadership team and Board of Directors. Turnaround is now ready for a new President and CEO with an ambitious mandate: lead the organization into a new era of growth and impact.

Dr. Cantor will remain engaged in the organization in an executive advisor role, focusing on field leadership and Turnaround’s science-based work. Dr. Cantor will also serve as a member of the Board and support high-level fundraising efforts in collaboration with the new President and CEO on an as-needed basis.

In partnership with the Board of Directors and Turnaround staff, the President and CEO will:

  • Provide strategic and operational leadership for all aspects of the organization
  • Serve as a spokesperson for Turnaround, inspiring collaborators in the field, donors, policymakers, other thought leaders, and potential program partners
  • Partner with a highly effective External Affairs and Development team to continue to grow Turnaround’s resources, presence, and base of support
  • Ensure that Turnaround’s people, values, and culture are aligned and prioritized across all departments and work streams to achieve organizational goals
  • Drive all aspects of the organization’s strategy, which includes (a) developing high-impact tools and services that support healthy student development, (b) providing consulting and training services that expand the reach and impact of Turnaround’s tools and knowledge to many more schools and students, (c) prompting action from system leaders and policymakers in support of accelerating healthy student development for students experiencing adversity, and (d) building a strong and sustainable organization in service of the organization’s mission

The President and CEO will report to the Board of Directors. This is a full-time position based at Turnaround’s headquarters in New York City.

Candidate Profile:

The next President and CEO of Turnaround for Children will be an experienced, strategic, and results-oriented leader with an unwavering commitment to equity. S/he will have the ability to lead the organization’s efforts to integrate science and practitioner expertise in the design of tools and services; to build out its approach to consulting and training at scale to ensure consistent implementation that produces a story of impact; and to establish strong partnerships that simultaneously scale Turnaround’s products and establish a revenue stream that reduces the organization’s dependence on philanthropy over time.

The President and CEO will maintain and enhance Turnaround’s role as a cutting-edge thought and field leader shaping the 21st century education system on behalf of all children, especially those growing up in poverty and facing adversity.

As an experienced leader, the President and CEO will have demonstrated competencies in building high-performing organizations and teams and will ensure that Turnaround’s own capacities reflect the values of a deep interest in learning as well as a dedication to performance, impact, and equity.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal qualities and characteristics:

Strategic Leader

A transformational and results-oriented leader, s/he will possess the creativity to optimize Turnaround’s strategy and inspire the staff, Board, and Turnaround’s constituents to advance the organization’s vision and mission. S/he will oversee the strategy and manage its implementation to ensure Turnaround achieves its goals around developing impactful tools and services, expanding reach to many more schools and students, prompting action from field leaders, and developing a strong and sustainable organization. S/he will envision, clearly define, and then project Turnaround’s strategy and value proposition to the field through a compelling and data-driven story of impact.

Skilled People and Operational Manager

The President and CEO will be a seasoned leader with a track record of success in organizational management. S/he will bring experience building and leading high-performing teams of the utmost degree of professionalism, as well as guiding team members’ growth and development. S/he will have an abiding commitment to a diverse and inclusive team environment, one that is able to establish priorities, goals, and timelines to achieve quantifiable and qualitative outcomes. S/he will understand and implement best nonprofit management practices and planning, ensuring that overall day-to-day operations are aligned with strategic goals. S/he will understand the importance of a robust partnership with the Board and will ensure fiduciary responsibility and sound fiscal management practices and accountability to the Board.

Spokesperson and Fundraiser for Turnaround

A high-energy, charismatic individual, the President and CEO will serve as a compelling spokesperson for Turnaround. S/he will be a confident public speaker, a natural relationship builder, and a persuasive communicator, working to inspire enthusiastic engagement and broader and deeper interest in the organization. The President and CEO will strengthen Turnaround’s voice as a leader and advocate, driving increased focus on the impact of adversity and the critical importance of an integrated approach to holistic student development in the education system.

The President and CEO will have demonstrated success in influencing Board, donors, staff, partners, and others to gain their support and build consensus for the organization’s strategy and initiatives. S/he will be an experienced fundraiser. S/he will be successful in generating support from all stakeholders and will enjoy engaging with a diverse range of constituents, including superintendents, school leaders, students and families, policymakers, and funders.

Passion for the Mission

The President and CEO will have a deep passion and belief in the mission of Turnaround and will bring experience and personal interest in complex issues related to equity, education, student development, and adversity, and an understanding of how adversity is inextricably intertwined with a host of connected issues. On the most fundamental level, s/he will care deeply about youth and believe in their ability to succeed with the right support and tools, no matter their start in life. The President and CEO will actively and strategically seek partnerships and build coalitions with other organizations, educational institutions, and leaders on behalf of the strategic vision of the organization. S/he will embrace Turnaround’s spirit while continuing to help expand its brand and reach.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Turnaround for Children seeks a President and CEO who has leadership, competencies, experience, and skills in equity, diversity, and inclusion, demonstrated through programming, organizational development, and thought leadership. Turnaround is committed to a diverse and inclusive organizational culture, and desires to continue its progress in this area. Compassionate, empathetic, and team-focused, the President and CEO will bring a high level of emotional intelligence and will lead the organization in implementing its goals of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This individual will treat others with respect, providing strong cultural humility, responsiveness, and the ability to work with a diverse set of stakeholders.


Molly Brennan and Alena Guerra of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Turnaround for Children is an equal-opportunity employer and encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and the LGBT community.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education, and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit