April 4, 2018 by Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder, Chair of the Board, Executive Director Emeritus, National Parents OrganizationOn behalf of the Board of Directors, I am excited and pleased to announce that Petra Maxwell became the new Executive Director of National Parents Organization on Monday, April 2.
Shortly after our successful International Conference on Shared Parenting last May, I and the Board of Directors began a national search process to recruit an Executive Director to replace me. We retained a distinguished New York executive search firm that specializes in non-profits. We were lucky in that the search executive who was assigned to lead our search is personally interested in and dedicated to our mission.
We formed a Search Committee consisting of Board members Bruce Rogers (Chairman) (Massachusetts and Utah), Robert Franklin (Texas) and Linda Reutzel (Missouri), as well as Leslie Alger, an accomplished leader, activist and executive coach who, as someone with no connection to our movement, was able to offer a totally objective perspective. I served as an advisor to the Search Committee and interviewed finalists in person.
The Board of Directors, the Search Committee, the Search Executive and I unanimously thought that Petra was the best qualified applicant, and we were all elated that she wanted the job. We all believe that under her leadership, National Parents Organization will rocket to new heights.
So let me tell you a bit about Petra.
Petra is an attorney in New York City who grew up in New Hampshire. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of New Hampshire, did graduate work at Northwestern University, and then attended Harvard Law School. After working as Associate Policy Director for the Mayor of Chicago, she practiced law for a few years as an Associate at two prestigious Chicago law firms. Petra realized that her heart was in the non-profit world, and she left the practice of law to found a non-profit called First Legal Defense in Chicago. She gained funding, lobbied and secured passage of Illinois legislation to protect the legal rights of juveniles, and won several awards for her work.
After moving to New York, Petra then worked for several non-profits, with budgets ranging from $3.5M to $20M, all involved with social justice and/or services for young people.In these positions, Petra successfully raised funds and increased budgets, led strategic planning efforts, reinvigorated stalled organizations, and showed administrative skills in complex settings. Most recently, she was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a liaison to the New York State Council on the Arts and Humanities, where she once again excelled at complex administrative responsibilities.
But Petra wanted to go back to the non-profit world, so she left her NYS position. Her personal experiences played a role in her choice of NPO. Petra is a single mother who has practiced shared parenting with her ex-husband. She feels that her son benefited from this, and that all children should have the same benefits. In addition, while working for Governor Cuomo, she also carried out a mediation practice for divorcing couples on a part-time basis.
Petra says, “I am looking forward to taking on the challenge of making the family courts more responsive to the true needs of children and to justice for adults. I am excited by the enormous improvements we can bring about for our entire society — children, women and men — given that tens of millions of people are affected by our mission. I pledge to do my utmost to build on the impressive foundation that National Parents Organization has created.”
On a personal note, it is almost exactly 20 years since I and three others founded National Parents Organization in late February, 1998. I am elated to turn the reins over to such an accomplished and dedicated professional as Petra Maxwell. I will stay on for the time being as Chair of the Board in order to give her maximum support.
With optimism and enthusiasm for our new leadership,
Ned Holstein, MD, MS
Chair of the Board
Executive Director Emeritus