Announcing our new Executive Director: Dr. Karen Rush

The Children’s Center is thrilled to announce that come January 4th, we will be welcoming Dr. Karen Rush as our new Executive Director!

In a process that began in September, Dr. Rush’s deep knowledge of children’s development and her extensive experience in leading child-centered organizations as well as her passion for our mission caused her to stand out as the right person for the job. Karen is also a long-time resident of Clackamas County and understands and loves our community.

Karen has been an administrator in the North Clackamas School District for 20-years, most recently as the principal of Oak Grove Elementary.  In addition to serving three elementary schools as Principal, she also served for six years in the District’s Central Office filling various director roles for Elementary and Early Learning. She has a passion for inclusivity and strong integration of Social Emotional learning which she brought to each of these roles.

Minnesota’s Early Childhood Research Institute is where Karen started her career, directing studies on prenatal exposure to drugs/alcohol, and, inclusion of students with disabilities. Along the way she has also designed therapeutic programs in clinical and school psychology settings, served as an Assistant Professor of Education at University of Oregon, and has worked to bring about organizational diversity, equity and inclusion wherever she has been. Karen graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Minnesota with a BA in Child Psychology and holds both a master’s and a Ph.D. in Education Psychology.

During our comprehensive selection process, Children’s Center Board of Directors and staff were incredibly impressed by her commitment to our mission. During this process, Karen told us, “It gives me a great sense of purpose to imagine working for an organization whose mission is to ensure that all children are safe, valued and heard.”

Rebecca Nickels, who has graciously and fearlessly served as the Children’s Center Interim Executive Director for the past year, is looking forward to helping Karen step into her new role. She shares, “It’s been an absolute honor to work alongside this community on behalf of the children of Clackamas County!” Rebecca says “Thank you all for the way you welcomed me when I arrived and trusted me, and our team, with your continued support. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and I’ve loved being a part of this one.” Rebecca will remain on board through mid-January to help with Karen’s transition

Many thanks to the members of the search committee, the staff, and the Board of Directors who remained 100% committed throughout the lengthy search to find the best person for the job.

A new year is the perfect time for a new start, and everyone is looking forward to Karen’s enthusiasm, vision, and leadership. Stay tuned for more after Karen arrives in 2021!

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