MENTOR Names New CEO, Again

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Less than a year after it named its previous CEO, Arlington, Va.,-based MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, has chosen Larry Wright, head of the Washington (State) Mentoring Partnership, as its new CEO, effective Dec. 1.

Wright, a former journalist, has been head of Washington state’s partner organization for four years. He succeeds  Dan Schneider, who was named MENTOR’s CEO earlier this year but left within months, apparently because of differences with the board of directors.

In an interview then, Schneider said he planned to steer the organization away from being primarily an advocacy group and more toward assisting affiliates and carrying out its federal contracts for Mentoring for Children of Prisoners, which he shepherded as acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families.

Wright said in an interview that he has not made any firm decisions on how he will guide the agency, which has been wracked not only by leadership problems but major money problems during the economic turbulence.

The new CEO declined to say just how much of the group’s $6.1 million endowment had been lost, but its last tax filing and financial statement showed that $3.5 million was invested in “alternative investments,” which usually means hedge funds.  According to tax records, the organization has operated in recent years at a deficit of about $1 million annually.

The group has also suffered through layoffs of at least 10 staff members. Wright said he believes the nonprofit if now appropriately staffed at “about 20 people.”

He sees the past 18 months as a “tsunami.”

“It is not a structural deficiency within the organization,” Wright said, “but something temporary and now MENTOR is ready to move forward.”

He said he will spend his first couple of months on the job listening to the group’s partners around the country. But he already seeing cooperation with other mentoring organization as one new path he will follow.

“We can accomplish so much more in partnership, rather than in competition,” Wright said.