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Green Chimneys Names Successor to Longtime Executive Director Joe Whalen

November 22, 2017

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June 22, 2016

NEWS_EdPlacke.JPGThe Green Chimneys Board of Directors has announced the selection of Edward W. Placke, Ed.D to succeed Joseph A. Whalen as Executive Director of Green Chimneys. While this change in leadership is due to Whalen’s upcoming retirement effective June 2017, the appointment of Dr. Placke represents a key step in the nearly 70-year-old agency’s strategy to continue its growth and expertise in providing special education and mental health services to youth amid a changing environment for organizations that serve children with special needs.

Dr. Placke’s expertise spans 35 years and includes special education and vocational programming from the intimate classroom environment to the highest levels of administration. Since 2009, Placke has served as Superintendent of Schools for Greenburgh North Castle Union Free School District, which is comprised of four alternative junior/high schools for students in grades 7-12 who have struggled in their home school districts, BOCES or private schools. Under his leadership, the district has maintained the highest graduation rate for this type of school system with over 50% of district graduates attending college, and the remainder of the student body attending vocational training programs or obtaining supportive or competitive employment.

This transition in Green Chimneys leadership will wind down Joe Whalen’s 44-year tenure with the organization, one marked by major accomplishments for the long-established nonprofit. Whalen first joined as a teacher at Green Chimneys School and later became its principal; he assumed the Executive Director role when Founder Dr. Samuel Ross, Jr. handed him the reigns in 1996.

Green Chimneys Board President Mark Lescault stated: "The Board of Directors is confident that this transition will further help us face the challenges of an evolving landscape in special education and mental health services, while maintaining the high quality that Green Chimneys has provided since 1947."

“Ed Placke is the right person to lead Green Chimneys into the next phase of its growth,” expressed longtime Executive Director Joseph Whalen. “The breadth and depth of his experience in educational programming that helps students prepare for life beyond school will be invaluable to our families who are counting on us to provide a strong foundation for their kids’ futures.”

Green Chimneys Founder Dr. Samuel Ross, Jr. shared his confidence in the future of the organization he launched nearly 70 years ago: “I couldn’t be more pleased with our Board’s selection for Green Chimneys’ next Executive Director. Joe Whalen’s leadership has brought genuine advancement to a tiny farm operation established decades ago. I know Ed Placke will carry the torch that will continue to drive our growth and ensure we serve our children and families well.”

Prior to Greenburgh North Castle, Dr. Placke spent five years as Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities. As Director of Pupil Services for Colonie School District for 13 years, Placke had oversight of approximately 250 staff in special education, guidance, reading and math (AIS), speech and language, occupational therapy/physical therapy, psychology, and ESL, with additional responsibility for program development and evaluation, curricula development, labor relations, and budget development and monitoring.

Placke began his career as a BOCES special education teacher in the Finger Lakes region of New York and went on to teach college students with disabilities, as well as graduate students studying special education, during his own doctoral studies at SUNY Albany. He has served as school principal at the Center for the Disabled, and was a supervisor of special education for Capital Region BOCES.

He holds a B.A. in Elementary/Special Education from Marist College, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology and Statistics and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, both from State University of New York at Albany. Placke is a resident of Dobbs Ferry, NY and will relocate to Green Chimneys’ on-campus housing upon his start in April 2017.

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