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Communities In Schools Announces Leadership Expansion

By Communities In Schools Aug. 13, 2015

Daniel Cardinali, president of Communities In Schools (CIS), the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization, today announced that Steven McCullough will join the organization as chief operating officer and that Debra Montanino has been elevated to the role of chief strategy officer within CIS.  The two leadership announcements are part of the organization’s strategic plan to expand its impact and meet the needs of millions of low-income students in the United States who face non-academic barriers to learning that place them at greater risk for dropping out.

“I am honored that Steven has decided to join our leadership team, particularly during this critical time for our organization as we embark on a national field building initiative to further establish integrated student supports (wraparound services) as a successful and proven model for improving student achievement in our country,” said Cardinali. “I’m equally pleased that Debra has accepted an expanded leadership role at CIS that will be focused on engaging a broad and diverse set of national stakeholders to support this important work.”

McCullough is a well-known and respected nonprofit leader and comes to Communities In Schools from the Greater Chicago Food Depository where he most recently served as vice president of community partnerships. During his 25 years in the private and public sector, McCullough also served as vice president and chief operating officer of the Safer Foundation, president and chief executive officer of Bethel New Life Inc. and held various leadership positions at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations. McCullough is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago Quinlan Business School and earned his master’s degree at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.   

In his new role at Communities In Schools, McCullough will oversee key operating departments within the organization including Network Impact and Operations; Research, Learning and Accreditation; Finance; Human Resources and Information Technology.

“I am humbled to be a part of the Communities In Schools family and excited to help make a positive and sustained impact on academic achievement and social support for millions of students across the country,” said McCullough.

As chief strategy officer, Montanino will join McCullough as one of two senior executives reporting directly to Cardinali. Montanino joined Communities In Schools in 2009. She successfully led an effort to secure a highly competitive grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), and leveraged additional funding to meet the needs of young people in the lowest performing schools across America through an $85 million growth capital campaign.  Montanino is a seasoned nonprofit leader with over 35 years of experience. Earlier in her career, Debra served as Executive Director of the Ellington Fund, the nonprofit arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., and has held senior positions in other national organizations including George Washington University, Resources for the Future, and The Brookings Institution.

In her new role, Montanino will oversee all external departments within the organization including Constituent Engagement, Legislative Affairs, Resource Development, and Marketing & Communications.

“I’m excited to continue to build a movement of individuals and institutions that will work together with us to change the lives of children in our nation’s public schools,” said Montanino.

About Communities In Schools

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to empowering at-risk students to stay in school and on a path to a brighter future. Working directly inside more than 2,300 schools across the country, we connect kids to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed. We do whatever it takes to ensure that all kids—regardless of the challenges they may face—have what they need to realize their potential.