SPRINGFIELD — Following a human-services career spanning more than 45 years, Square One President and CEO Joan Kagan has announced plans to retire.
Kagan has served in her current role since 2003. Although her retirement will take effect on Dec. 31, 2020, Kagan will continue to serve the agency as an advisor to support the leadership team during transition.
“When you think about the nonprofit community in Western Massachusetts, the name Joan Kagan immediately comes to mind,” said Peter Testori, chair of Square One’s board of directors and dean of Academic Support Services and assistant Title IX coordinator at Bay Path University. “For decades, Joan has been a champion for the well-being and education of our region’s children. Her passion and commitment have positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and families.”
Under Kagan’s leadership, Square One (formerly known as Springfield Day Nursery) expanded its offerings from providing child care exclusively to a full menu of family-support services. This expansion was built upon Kagan’s experience as a child and family social worker and her in-depth understanding of the need for all children to have a high-quality early education, nurturing adults to care for them, and a safe and healthy community in which to live.
“Joan’s passion for children and families is what has made our collaboration with Square One so effective,” said Suzin Bartley, executive director of Children’s Trust of Massachusetts. “She understands that children do not grow up in early-childhood programs — they grow up in families, and families need support. Being a parent is the toughest job we ever embark on, and yet it is the most important role in the life of a child, and Joan understands that all parents, myself included, have at times needed access to information, skills, and support in order to grow as a parent.
“Her leadership style, eagerness to collaborate, and her high standards have helped set Square One apart,” Bartley added. “She will be missed, but we also know that she has built a solid organization that will continue to grow as it serves the children and families of Springfield.”
A committee of Square One staff and board members, as well as other community leaders, will conduct a search to determine the next president and CEO.
“There are very few initiatives surrounding early education and family services in this community that don’t somehow connect to Joan Kagan,” said Mary Walachy, former executive director of the Davis Foundation. “Her collaborative approach to providing opportunities for children and families to be successful is truly unmatched. The impact of her work will be felt for many generations to come.”