Molly O’Connor Appointed CEO

Thrive Washington’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Molly O’Connor has been named CEO, effective December 1.


Over the past 11 years, Molly has held various leadership roles at Thrive. Mostly recently, she served as executive vice president of external affairs, overseeing communications, policy and advocacy strategies and cultivating community partnerships to grow statewide support for early learning. Molly’s appointment follows the board’s decision to launch a search for a merger partner to take on and ensure continued success of Thrive’s home visiting and advocacy work.


“Molly has played an integral role in Thrive’s contributions to the state’s early learning progress for more than a decade, and we are thrilled to have her lead the organization during this transition,” said Don Stark, chair of Thrive’s Board of Trustees. “She wholeheartedly believes high-quality supports and services in those first years of life have the power to change the trajectory of children, families and communities. She also knows Thrive better than anyone and is committed to making sure Thrive’s staff and work find the best new home.”


Before coming to Thrive in 2008, Molly served as the chief spokesperson at Partnership for Learning and then the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, championing the state’s learning standards, testing and high school graduation requirements. She started her career in Washington state as an education reporter.


“Helping our state’s youngest children and their families get the best possible start in life is where the magic really happens if we’re serious about stronger families, schools and communities, and I’m proud that Thrive has played such an influential role in the state’s progress with our littlest learners,” O’Connor said. “I’m fully committed to finding a merger partner that will allow Thrive’s talented staff and their invaluable work to continue and grow.”


Molly will work closely with Thrive’s Board of Trustees and staff to search for a new partner. Thrive hopes to communicate its expected merger process soon.


Molly has two teenage boys, who were early learners when she started at Thrive. She follows Deborah Jensen, who will transition from her term as Thrive’s interim CEO.