Jennifer Macdonald
Jennifer Macdonald

The Board of Directors of CommUnify has announced that Head Start has approved the nonprofit’s recommendation to promote Jennifer Macdonald as director of children’s services.

Macdonald succeeds Lorraine Neenan, who is retired after serving the organization for more than 20 years

Effective Aug. 1, Macdonald will oversee CommUnify’s 23 Head Start and Early Head Start campuses, and the 200-plus staff who work at those locations throughout Santa Barbara County.

Macdonald has worked in the field of early childhood education for 30 years, including the past 12 years with CommUnify’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and most recently as the associate director for Children’s Services.

She previously served as education program manager, Early Head Start Program support specialist, and site supervisor. Macdonald also worked as a master teacher at Cal State Fullerton Children’s Center, and Toddler Teacher II at UC Irvine Infant Toddler Center.

Macdonald’s background includes working at every level, which will ensure high quality early education for the community’s youngest children, from infants to pre-kindergarten, preparing them for elementary school.

“When we learned of Lorraine’s retirement, we knew we had big shoes to fill in our Children’s Services division,” said Patricia Keelean, CEO for CommUnify. “Our decision was clear given Jennifer’s rise through the ranks of our Head Start program and her firsthand, boots-on-the-ground experience having worked in so many of the positions she will now oversee.

“Her promotion will ensure consistency in the direction of this program and will provide a seamless transition as the new school year approaches.”

Macdonald holds a bachelors degree in interdisciplinary studies from Sonoma State University, and an associate’s degree in liberal studies from Allan Hancock College. She is currently completing coursework toward a masters degree in education from University of Massachusetts Global and is credentialed as a Head Start director by the National Head Start Association.

“Under the mentorship of Lorraine, I have been afforded opportunities to grow and develop both professionally and personally, as a leader and as an individual,” Macdonald said. “I am thankful for the experiences these positions have provided and am excited to lead the Children’s Services team and contribute at greater levels to the continued development of our Head Start program.

“I am committed to making a difference in the lives of children, families, and staff.”

Macdonald, who lives in Orcutt, was born and raised in Santa Maria and is a graduate of Santa Maria High School.

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