SARASOTA, Fla. – After thirteen years of dedicated leadership, Step Up Suncoast’s board of directors has accepted the retirement announcement from President & CEO Barbara Patten. She will be stepping away on August 31, 2021. The Board has begun a regional search and looks to have a new President & CEO in place by the end of June.
Ms. Patten was hired as Step Up Suncoast’s President & CEO in August of 2008. She spent the bulk of her career in the not-for-profit sector, previously at the Economic Opportunity Council of Indian River County. Ms. Patten served on several boards throughout the community, including the Florida Community Action Network, Manatee Educational Television, and Manatee Community Federal Credit Union.
In 2008, the agency was going through a time of transition with regard to program outcomes and board governance. Ms. Patten created a positive culture where employees feel valued, respected, and fairly compensated, which has led to nearly 40% of the organization’s staff staying at least five years. She doubled the number of families served within the Rise and Shine Early Learning Head Start & Early Head Start programs and designed and implemented the Family Self-Sufficiency program, the cornerstone to creating long term economic stability for families.
Ms. Patten is most proud of the rebrand and successful relaunch of Step Up Suncoast in 2018. It was an ambitious goal meant to encompass servicing the entire region verses focusing on one county. Without a doubt, her fortitude over the past 13 years has allowed the agency to grow and evolve into what it is today; a strong, stable and prominent advocate for those living in poverty throughout our region.
“Barbara is one of those leaders we all admire and strive to be. She runs the organization with incredible passion for our mission, the residents we serve, and our employees,” said Charlie Kennedy, Step Up Suncoast Board Chair. “She is a quick problem solver and long-term strategic thinker. We will miss her presence and leadership, however, we wish her happiness in the time she’ll now have for her family and grandchildren.”
About Step Up Suncoast
Incorporated in 1968, Step Up Suncoast provides services to over 12,000 individuals annually across five counties. With a budget of just over $18 million, our work allows us to assist low-income families with both crisis services and various programs centered around early childhood development. Our mission is focused on holistic programs to break the multigenerational cycle of poverty through education, support services, and community partnerships.