WASHINGTON, D.C. – America’s Promise Alliance, a coalition working to spark collective action to overcome barriers that stand in the way of young people’s success, announced today that Mike O’Brien, former CEO of the national college success organization iMentor, has been named its new CEO. O’Brien brings deep experience in youth development, civic engagement, and education to the role.
“Our nation is experiencing a time of incredible challenge and opportunity—a time that is profoundly influencing young people’s paths and futures. Mike’s unwavering commitment to equity and justice and his ability to work hand-in-hand with others to establish and realize an ambitious vision uniquely equip him to lead the Alliance at this historic moment.” said C. Gregg Petersmeyer, chair of America’s Promise Alliance. “Mike is deeply committed to ensuring this challenging moment translates into the investment, action, and structural change needed to create a better world for our nation’s young people. And he understands how crucial it is to work in partnership with a broad coalition of leaders to accomplish this goal.”
O’Brien’s career journey began in the classroom. As a high school teacher in Brooklyn, New York, O’Brien gained an appreciation for the vital role that personal relationships play in students’ educational experiences. He joined iMentor as a frontline program staff member when it was a small startup in New York City and served as iMentor’s CEO for the past 13 years. Under his leadership, the organization has expanded to 22 communities across the country and is serving more than 10,000 young people annually, generating field leading postsecondary outcomes. In addition to scaling the organization nationally, O’Brien led an evolution of iMentor’s mentoring model to one that prioritizes equity education for its mentors and harnesses the power of long-term relationships to help students graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.
“I am incredibly excited to steward a platform for collective action that is led and informed by the nation’s young people,” said O’Brien. “We are in a moment when transformative change may be possible, but only if we make it happen. We have an extraordinary opportunity to work as an Alliance to catalyze youth leadership in building more equitable, more just, and more caring communities.”
O’Brien will officially assume his CEO role with America’s Promise Alliance on April 1st, 2021. He will lead America’s Promise as the organization strives to meet the vast and changing needs of young people and the adults who support them. Over the past few months, America’s Promise has sharpened its focus on amplifying the perspectives and stories of young people, particularly as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly visible fight for racial equity; enhanced national understanding of young people’s experiences with learning and employment through original research; explored what the high school experience looks like now and what that might mean for graduation rates in the future; supported youth service and leadership in communities across the country; promoted community action focused on young people’s holistic development; and launched a collective effort to support Alliance partners’ anti-racism policies and practices.
The America’s Promise Board expressed its gratitude to interim CEO Dennis Vega who skillfully led the organization through a period of national tumult—advancing work across the Alliance’s many campaigns and initiatives while simultaneously spearheading newer youth voice and anti-racism efforts. Vega will return to his previous role as Chief Operating Officer at America’s Promise. The Board also thanked John Gomperts, the most recent CEO of America’s Promise, who stepped down in 2020 after leading the organization for several years. O’Brien will be tasked with building on this promising foundation and harnessing the power of the Alliance to help young people lead and thrive at an unprecedented juncture in our nation’s history.