PITTSFIELD, Mass .– (BUSINESS WIRE) – The Hillcrest Educational Foundation, operator of educational centers now providing therapeutic treatment and special education to more than 500 children and adolescents with unique psychological and learning needs, today announced that CEO Gerard E. “Jerry Burke will retire next year after more than 36 years at the helm of Hillcrest.
Mr. Burke will be replaced as CEO in July 2022 by Shaun Cusson, Executive Director of Hillcrest since 2005 and a Hillcrest staff member for over 28 years, following a unanimous vote by the Hillcrest Board of Directors, announced Chairman of the Board John Walsh.
Taking over in 1985, what was then a bankrupt school for children with special needs, Mr. Burke and his team worked for years to stabilize and secure Hillcrest’s operations and finances. Over the next three and a half decades, Mr. Burke oversaw the successful growth of Hillcrest into a nationally recognized and accredited group of programs that help students with a wide range of special needs develop the skills of lives that allow them to succeed in their home community.
Hillcrest also operates a dental office which is the largest oral health care provider in Western Massachusetts to participants and people with special needs of MassHealth and serves 12,000 patients per year. Hillcrest Day Student Academy, three boarding schools and other divisions are combined as one of the largest private employers in Berkshire County, with over 500 staff.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to the countless employees, supporters and partners who have helped us continually change and grow in response to the needs of the community and make Hillcrest what we are today,” said Burke. “It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve Hillcrest as CEO, and the legacy of which I will always be proudest, are the thousands of young people who have come to see us, so often when no one else is. wanted to take them, and who won the life. skills to make the most of their potential. ”
Mr. Cusson said: “I am extremely honored and honored to have the opportunity to lead this incredible agency, and I am more than grateful to have the confidence of our Board of Directors to succeed Jerry Burke. What he accomplished in his time at Hillcrest is unfathomable, and for 16 years I have had the privilege of working closely with him on a daily basis and learning what it takes to move an agency forward, solve problems and lead. ”
“I’m not replacing Jerry. It would be impossible, ” Cusson added. “I hope our staff have confidence in the unique continuity of this transition. I am one of five leaders that Jerry mentors, with over 100 years of combined experience, and we are a close team committed to staying ahead and continuing to evolve and improve as needed. of our students change. What our staff do day in and day out for our students is absolutely inspiring, and my main job is to create the best possible environment for them to do their great work. ”
Among many tributes to Mr. Burke’s legacy, US Representative Richard E. Neal said: “It was a pleasure working with Jerry Burke during his tenure at Hillcrest Educational Centers. With Jerry at the helm for 35 years, Hillcrest has been able to fulfill its mission of facilitating the social, emotional, intellectual and physical growth of individuals in Berkshire County and beyond. He and his team have changed countless lives and made sure those who walk through their doors leave with the tools they need to succeed where life takes them. I am grateful to Jerry for his commitment to our community and congratulate him on his retirement on behalf of the United States of America. ”
Elizabeth Dello Russo Becker, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Approved Schools (MAAPS), the association of state schools, including Hillcrest, that serve students with special needs, said, “All of us who work in special education is better at what we do because of what Jerry did before us. Jerry is a pillar of our profession, a larger than life creator of change, and on behalf of the entire MAAPS community, I want to say how grateful we are for all that Jerry has accomplished at Hillcrest and taught at the special education community. all over New England and our country.
John Bissell, CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield, the county’s largest credit union, said: “Every nonprofit business owner I know in this area – and most of the business leaders for-profit business too – count Jerry as a mentor and confidant. He has been a leading voice on Greylock’s federal board of directors for 20 years and I can confidently say that our credit union is stronger, more resilient and more inclusive because of his leadership. Sitting on the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Board, 1Berkshire and so many other boards, Jerry has helped highlight the role of nonprofits in strengthening the local economy and, in all cases, he has left the organization stronger than when it joined. ”
Kristine Hazzard, former CEO of Berkshire United Way, said: “Jerry has developed a strong leadership team at Hillcrest, and he is committed to ensuring the success of the Berkshires, as evidenced by his hope that his team will be actively engaged in the community. . I took advantage of this as Jerry himself and then members of his team served on the United Way Board of Directors and committees, bringing great talent and insight to all of our discussions. Jerry has truly set an example for how nonprofits in the county can support the local economy, workforce development, and ultimately the quality of life for those who live. here.
About the Hillcrest Educational Foundation
Hillcrest Educational Foundation, a private, non-profit organization, is the parent of Hillcrest Education Centers, providing therapeutic treatment and special education to children and adolescents with unique psychological and learning needs in Berkshire County, Massachusetts and the states from New England. and the northeast. The campuses include a day student academy and three boarding schools. Other divisions of the foundation include Hillcrest Dental Care, Inc. and Berkshire County Kids’ Place and Violence Prevention Center, Inc., a fully accredited child advocacy center for victims of child abuse and their non-family members. delinquents. The programs and services provided by the Hillcrest Educational Foundation are accredited and certified by the state, and the Hillcrest Educational Centers are accredited in behavioral health care by the Joint Commission.