Soon after I took the job as President and CEO of the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland (CEOGC), I met with civic, community and business leaders to have a candid conversation about where we stood and how we could reboot the relationship between CEOGC and Greater Cleveland. I was thrilled to gain optimistic and engaged support and I would like to update you on where we are now.

My team and I have worked diligently to restructure and rebuild CEOGC to better serve those living in poverty in Greater Cleveland. While this was a formidable undertaking, it has been paying real dividends.

CEOGC now has momentum that it has not experienced in decades. During the last 18 months, we have:

  • Hired a seasoned team of change makers to help take the organization into the 21st century.
  • Achieved five-star ratings at our Head Start centers.
  • Improved access to our Home Energy Assistance program.
  • Created innovative programs and initiatives to help people get jobs.
  • Improved internal and external communications by using the latest information technology.
  • Reallocated more than $500,000 for the Head Start program by reviewing all contracts and reducing wasteful spending.
  • Encouraged excellence and boosted morale by creating an employee recognition program.
  • Hired a new Chief Financial Officer.
  • Implemented a new financial management system.

As you may have heard, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) will highlight CEOGC’s accomplishments at its upcoming annual Parent, Staff, and Leadership Training Conference. In just a few weeks, we will be presenting our turnaround story to an audience of peers, parents, and partners from across the United States. You can follow this story on our website.

Our greatest challenge throughout this process has been implementing change within a large organization with a well-established culture. We have developed a new identity as a result of many recent successes, established a strong sense of purpose and are moving forward toward a shared goal of better serving those in need.

To this end, the Council is seeking individuals interested in joining our CEOGC team as a volunteer by reading a story to our children, assisting our teachers, serving on the Board of Directors and encouraging our families by sharing your time. We are interested in people who can bring fresh perspectives to help every individual we serve have a better life. If you, or someone you know would like to be a part of this movement, please email Margaret Thresher at mthresher@ceogc.org.

As we count our blessings this week, we are grateful for you and rely on your continued interest and support to help CEOGC finish turning the corner and better serve the Greater Cleveland community.

Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm