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Riverbend Head Start president Parr to retire, successor Howell named

Chuck Parr, president and chief executive officer of Riverbend Head Start and Family Services, will retire at the end of December 2017, after leading the Madison County children and family development organization for 30 years.

Gene Howell, who has more than 23 years with the organization and most recently served as operations director, has been named as his successor.

parr chuckParr has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization since 1987 when he was first hired as the Head Start program director and division Vice President of the agency from 1992-1997. At that time the agency was known as Family Service and Visiting Nurse Association. 

Prior to Parr’s employment with Riverbend Head Start, he was instrumental in the development of the Illinois Head Start Association (IHSA) as co-founder back in the 1970s. Parr has worked with children’s programs his entire career, beginning in 1973 as a social worker for a children’s residential center and community mental health youth advocacy.

“It has been a privilege for me to have this responsibility and opportunity to make a difference,” he said. “My time with Riverbend Head Start and Family Services has been worthwhile.”

“Speaking on behalf of the entire Riverbend Head Start Board of Directors, we thank Chuck for his service and his contribution to Riverbend Head Start, the employees, children, families and all of Riverbend Head Start’s partners and stakeholders,” said James Wing, chairman of Riverbend Head Start’s board of directors. “As the face of Riverbend Head Start and Family Services, Chuck has earned the respect and admiration of all our constituent communities. He is respected and admired by civic, educational, and governmental leaders alike. We are grateful for all of his efforts and the many accomplishments under his leadership,” said Wing.

Howell takes the reins

howell geneAfter months of seeking and interviewing several qualified candidates the board said it was thrilled to announce the appointment of Gene Howell, who has been operations director for the past six years.

“The appointment of Gene Howell has already taken off with a seamless transition as the organization continues to combat poverty through education and family development which transform the lives of over 800 children and families each year,” said Wing. Parr said so far he’s been working through a smooth and effective transition, serving as support to the newly appointed leader until the end of the year.

“We look forward to working with Gene and all of the dedicated staff as we transition through the next stage of growth and development. The Board of Directors agree that Gene will bring a tremendous amount of leadership capabilities and a solid track-record from his social work and management experience,” said Wing. “We’re anticipating that the next chapter for Chuck, Gene and Riverbend Head Start and Family Services will be one focused on brightening the future for all who live, work and play in our community.”

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