The Florida Center CEO to retire after nearly 20 years of service

Staff Report

Kathryn Shea has served as the CEO of The Florida Center for the last 12 years.

Chief Executive Officer of The Florida Center for Early Childhood, Kathryn Shea, today announced her plans to retire from the organization. Shea, who has been with The Florida Center for the past 20 years, will stay in her role through June 30, 2020. The board of directors aims to have the position filled by July 1, 2020.

The Florida Center, which provides developmental therapies, mental health services, and early education to children ages 0-8, was founded in 1979. Shea joined the organization in 2000. She worked in various clinical and administrative capacities as infant mental health supervisor, Vice President and Executive Vice President of Mental Health and Child Welfare services, and Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all agencies services and programs.

In 2008, Shea was named CEO, and today is recognized as a state expert in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and infant mental health.

“While we will miss Kathryn’s leadership on a day-to-day basis, we knew this day would come,” said Board of Directors Chairman, Jeff Woodin. “She has worked tirelessly on behalf of young children and we look forward to her continued advocacy.”

Shea has been active in government, requesting legislative funding that led to the establishment of the state’s first FASD diagnostic and intervention clinic. The clinic, located at The Florida Center’s Sarasota campus, provides statewide FASD assessments and training.

Shea was also instrumental in securing a $9 million Cooperative Agreement with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2005 to build an early childhood mental health system of care in Sarasota County over a six year period. Shea is a past Chairperson of the Community Alliance of Sarasota County and currently serves as Co-chair of the group’s Legislative Advocacy Committee.

During her tenure, the Healthy Families child abuse prevention program expanded to include four counties; Sarasota, DeSoto, Hardee, and Charlotte. Most recently, Shea worked to bring the Early Childhood Court program to District 12 (Sarasota, Manatee & Desoto Counties). This model aims to expedite the judicial process for young children who have been removed from their homes, lessening the harmful effects on emotional and developmental health.

Board of Directors Chairman, Jeff Woodin, and The Florida Center CEO, Kathryn Shea, pose with Starfish Academy students.

Additionally, Shea was involved with the launch of a school-based mental health program in partnership with Sarasota County Schools and The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, addressing the behavioral and emotional needs of elementary school children.

“Early childhood is the most critical time in one’s life,” said Shea. “I will continue to support the work of The Florida Center and share the message that early diagnosis and treatment is necessary for healthy children, families, and communities.”

The Florida Center has locations in Sarasota and North Port, with satellite offices for its Healthy Families home visiting program. Overall, the organization serves more than 3,000 children and families each year.

For more than 40 years, The Florida Center for Early Childhood has been a leader in services for young children and their families. Today, the agency is nationally recognized for its early childhood expertise in a variety of specialties. The Florida Center provides developmental therapies, mental health counseling, Starfish Academy preschool, the Healthy Families home-visiting program, and the state’s only Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders clinic. For more information, visit www.thefloridacenter.org or call 941-371-8820.

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