Howard Center Names 25-Year Agency Veteran as New CEO | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Howard Center Names 25-Year Agency Veteran as New CEO


Published February 8, 2024 at 5:02 p.m.

  • Courtesy of Howard Center
  • Sandra McGuire
The Howard Center, Vermont's largest social service organization, said on Thursday that it has chosen a 25-year veteran of the agency to become its next chief executive.

Sandra McGuire, the chief financial officer and chief operating officer, will begin as CEO this June. She will succeed Bob Bick, who's retiring after a decade in the role.

McGuire joined the Howard Center staff in 1999 and served in various positions before ascending to the leadership team in 2013. A press release announcing her promotion boasted her as "uniquely positioned" to lead the sprawling agency, which serves some 19,000 people annually.

“McGuire stood out in a robust field of national candidates for her deep understanding of the agency’s operational and fiscal needs, thoughtful and collaborative approach to leadership, passion for the mission, and commitment to excellence and inclusivity for our clients, staff, and community,” Kelly Deforge, the president of the agency's board, said in the release.

McGuire will take over at a critical juncture for Howard Center. The agency has struggled financially despite a higher-than-ever demand for its addiction, mental health and disability services. Last year, it cut several programs to cover a gap in its $130-plus million budget. At the end of 2023, it had nearly 200 open positions — about 15 percent of its workforce.

In a statement, McGuire said she hopes to help the agency embrace "innovative and new opportunities" while still keeping "clients at the heart of our decision-making."

"As we focus on providing services where the need and our impact is the greatest, I am confident that by working together we can respond to the
increasingly complex environmental challenges to meet the needs of our community," she said.

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