New Horizons of SWFL Announces Executive Director Transition

New Horizons of Southwest Florida announced today that Executive Director, Mrs. Debra Haley, will step down from her position on February 29. Ms. Linda M. Cunning, current Director of Donor Development, has been selected by the New Horizons Board of Directors to fill the Executive Director position effective March 1.

Since 2012, Debra has been critical to the development and success of the organization, growing its student population from 200 to nearly 700 and increasing the number of host site partnerships from four to 12. To serve these many students requires volunteers helping them with homework, social skills and character development. She worked tirelessly with her staff to reach out to the community to recruit 1,000 volunteers who are now contributing their time and talents to the New Horizons mission. Debra took the vision of founders Bob and Ellen Nichols to the next level, laying a strong organizational foundation from which growth was possible. She said, “Leading New Horizons for the past seven years has been the most rewarding experience of my professional career. The impact of lifting so many at-risk students out of poverty and hopelessness warms my heart and will for the remainder of my life.”

Debra further shared, “I am overwhelmingly grateful to the many supporters over the years who trusted me, had faith in me and donated so generously to a mission that makes our community a caring and loving place for those from near and far.” She acknowledges, “You don’t just walk into the nonprofit world after a 29-year career with the U.S. Air Force and have the wherewithal to succeed. I thank God for bringing people into my life who share my passion for helping others and for helping me to make a difference. You know who you are -- thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Debra’s departure comes with full board support and she will remain as a member of the Board of Directors and serve as the Board’s Donor Ambassador. Chairman of the Board of Directors West McCann said, “Our organization has benefited greatly for many years under the exceptional leadership of Debra Haley. Our new Director, Linda Cunning, brings extraordinary experience to lead New Horizons as a larger organization reaching more children than we could have imagined a decade ago.”

Ms. Cunning comes with a wide range of nonprofit experience, multiple degrees and certifications in education, business and at-risk populations. She has a heart for New Horizons’ mission to empower at-risk youth. “Working with nonprofit organizations for many years, I have seen best practice as well as the struggles organizations face. New Horizons is an exceptional organization. I am looking forward to leading this great team and serving the families most vulnerable in our communities, ” she said.

New Horizons is thankful for Debra's many contributions and welcomes Linda to her role as Executive Director. Linda will focus on completing the national accreditation of the New Horizons organization and programs, achieving the $5M endowment campaign goal and continuing to grow the impact of New Horizons on the SWFL community.