By Staff –
The Board of Directors of Action for a Better Community Inc. (ABC), the Community Action Partnership agency for Monroe and Ontario Counties, has appointed Jerome Underwood as president and chief executive officer, effective Feb. 5.
Underwood was selected following a national search conducted by an 11-member search committee, and will succeed James Norman, ABC’s current president and CEO since 1992, who will retire on Feb. 2.
Underwood most recently served as the Rochester City School District’s director of family initiatives, a role in which he was responsible for programs and services focusing on parent engagement, attendance improvement, cultural responsiveness, and student leadership.
He also provided oversight for the district’s implementation of Dr. Joy DeGruy’s Relationship Model of Educational Intervention, which led to a major new program implemented by the district called Victorious Minds Academy, ABC stated.
“I am confident that ABC will continue to strive after my departure,” Norman said. “I am very appreciative of the scope of work discharged by the search committee, and the board’s decision to select an individual who is highly and uniquely qualified to lead the advancement of the agency’s mission. I wish Jerome all the best.”
Underwood also served on ABC’s board of directors from 2007 to 2015, including seven years as board chair, and as RCSD’s senior director of operations from 2009 to 2012, managing a staff of 700, and a budget of $100 million.
“ABC has been our community’s strongest advocate for the poor and disenfranchised for more than 50 years,” Underwood stated. “It is imperative that we remember the time, and the people whose vision gave birth to this institution. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge Mrs. Constance Mitchell, Minister Franklin Florence, and Dr. Walter Cooper. In its 50-plus years of existence, ABC has had only two long-term chief executives, James McCuller and James Norman, both of whom were extraordinary and exemplary leaders. Knowing that we stand on the shoulders of great people who built a legacy of strong passion, clear focus, relentless resilience, and uncompromised excellence, I look forward to leading ABC’s amazing staff and dedicated volunteers into the next era of helping individuals achieve sustainable self-sufficiency.”
In addition, “Jerome’s familiarity and experience with ABC, demonstrated success in education, business and not-for-profit leadership positions, deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the Rochester community in fighting poverty, and passionate commitment to ABC’s mission of helping individuals and families achieve sustainable self-sufficiency make him the ideal person for this position,” Brad Rye, Action for a Better Community’s board chair, added. “The board is pleased that Jerome is moving into this important leadership role at ABC, and in our community, and we look forward to working with him in the years ahead.”