Liliana Polo-McKenna Named Interim CEO
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January 17, 2017
By Paula Katinas
There will be a major change at the top of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT), the Sunset Park-based organization that helps high school dropouts finish their education and find jobs.
Randy Peers, who has served as the CEO of the nonprofit agency for 11 years, is leaving his post to become the first CEO of the newly formed Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Liliana Polo-McKenna, formerly OBT’s chief program officer (CPO), has been named interim CEO at OBT.
During Peers’ tenure, OBT, which is headquartered at 783 Fourth Ave., expanded to other sites in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The organization’s annual budget grew to $8 million. He is also credited with pioneering a partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York to form a new program, Y Roads Centers. In addition, he spearheaded training programs specializing in health care and technology.
OBT was founded in 1983 to help young people between the ages of 17 and 24 to finish their education, learn job skills and find employment. OBT also provides adults with job training, literacy programs and immigration services. The organization serves more than 4,500 clients a year.
Prior to coming to OBT, Peers was the vice president at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the chairman of Community Board Seven.
“Serving as OBT’s CEO for the last 11 years has been the most fulfilling professional experience of my life. There can be no more rewarding experience than serving the young adults of our community and empowering them though education and employment,” Peers said in a statement.
Polo-McKenna brings close to 20 years of experience to her new job, according to OBT officials. She grew up in Sunset Park and started her career as a teacher at Boys and Girls High School. She went on to become the founding principal of West Brooklyn Community High School.
She holds two degrees from Brown University, a Specialist Diploma from Queens College and a Doctorate in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Prior to joining OBT, Polo-McKenna served as the vice president of the New York City Leadership Academy.
“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,” OBT Board Chairman Vincent Chirico said.