Thrive Washington’s Board of Trustees announced today that Deborah Jensen will serve as Interim CEO of the state public-private partnership for early learning. Jensen starts Feb. 16.
Jensen most recently served as Interim CEO for Social Venture Partners. Before that, she was the long-time president and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo where she oversaw considerable growth in the zoo’s education and conservation programs and opened many new exhibits and guest experiences.
At the zoo, Jensen also learned about the power of early learning. During her tenure, she opened Zoomazium, the zoo’s indoor, interactive facility specifically designed for children birth to age 8. The facility and its programs employ key insights and recommendations from early learning experts, including the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (ILABS), which houses international experts in babies’ brain development and learning.
“Helping every child in our state get the best possible start in life is crucial to their future success and to closing the equity gap in Washington,” Jensen said. “I’m delighted to help Thrive during an important transition in both its history and the early learning efforts in Washington. Thrive is a much-needed leader in the state’s early learning conversation and work, and must continue to be a strong voice for early learning in our state as the Department of Early Learning becomes part of the new Department of Children, Youth and Families.”
Jensen has a 25-year track record of leading successful nonprofits and helping organizations achieve their mission and increase their impact. Before the search for a permanent Thrive CEO begins, Jensen will work with Thrive’s Board of Trustees and staff to make sure the organization is well-positioned to be successful with its new strategic plan.
“The board is excited to have Deborah join us during this time,” said Don Stark, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Her enthusiasm, experience and exceptional way of approaching organizations gives us every confidence that Thrive will only continue to grow stronger with her leadership.”
Jensen follows CEO Alan Cohen, who recently left Thrive to return to his home town of Dallas, TX.