Brooklyn, NY (Thursday, January 12, 2017) – After 11 years of serving as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Randy Peers announced he will be stepping down to take over as the first CEO of the newly formed Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation (“GRCEDC”), in Berks County, PA. Under Randy’s leadership, OBT expanded across Brooklyn, and into Queens and the Bronx and the organization’s annual budget grew to $8 million. OBT is now the leading provider or education and job training services to “Opportunity Youth”, across NYC. When Peers took over OBT in 2006, he inherited an organization that just experienced the death of their founder, Sr. Mary Franciscus. Peers, who had previously been Vice President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Chair of Community Board 7 in Brooklyn, is largely credited with helping save the organization which was founded back in Sunset Park in 1983. He pioneered a partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York to form Y Roads Centers, and he spearheaded additional training programs specializing in healthcare and technology.
“Serving as OBT’s CEO for the last eleven years has been the most fulfilling professional experience of my life,” Peers says. “There can be no rewarding experience than serving the young adults of our community and empowering them through education and employment.”
Dr. Liliana Polo-McKenna, formerly OBT’s Chief Program Officer (CPO) will assume the role of Interim CEO at OBT. She brings close to 20 years of experience to the role along with a community perspective, having grown up in Sunset Park, the daughter of Colombian immigrants, who worked on the Brooklyn waterfront where Industry City now stands. Dr. Polo-McKenna began her career as a teacher at Boys and Girls High School and went on to become the founding principal of West Brooklyn Community High School. In this role, she worked in partnership with Good Shepherd Services to replicate its model transfer school, serving over-aged/under-credited students in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Under her leadership and vision, she helped West Brooklyn become one of the top performing transfer schools in the city.
Dr. Polo-McKenna holds a BA and MAT from Brown University, a Specialist Diploma from Queens College, and a Doctorate in Education (EdLD) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her dissertation focused on building programs at state and district levels that effectively support staff to meet young people’s needs. Prior to joining OBT at the CPO, she served as the Vice President of the New York City Leadership Academy where she led programming for principals and their teams in school districts across the country to assist in their transformation efforts.
OBT Board Chair, Vincent Chirico, who recently announced Liliana’s appointment as the Interim CEO remarked, “We are proud to welcome Liliana as Interim CEO. During her tenure as CPO, she designed and implemented multiple programmatic reforms, which have already improved the effectiveness of the organization. Liliana’s expertise in the education industry will ensure a seamless transition into the CEO role. Under her leadership, we are confident that OBT will continue to grow and progress.”
About Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
Founded in 1983, OBT empowers women and men from low-income neighborhoods to become self-sufficient with rewarding jobs and futures. OBT specializes in helping young adults ages 17-24 finish their educations, gain job skills, and find employment and/or enroll in advanced training or education. OBT also serves adults with job training, literacy programs, and immigration services. With six sites throughout New York City, OBT serves more than 4,500 clients annually.