Making Waves Foundation appoints new CEO

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Patrick O’Donnell (Photo Credit: Making Waves Foundation)

Making Waves Foundation, which supports Making Waves Academy, a public charter school in Richmond serving students from grades 5 through 12, has appointed a new CEO, Patrick O’Donnell.

O’Donnell joins the foundation after serving in senior leaderships roles at Teach for America, most recently as executive director for Teach for America-Indianapolis and as vice president of national development. He started his career as a Teach for America teacher in Los Angeles.

O’Donnell will lead a team of about 50 staff and work with the foundation’s board, executive committee and senior colleagues “to define, maintain, monitor, and enhance the organization’s highly successful programs and services, as well as guide facilities expansion and support diversification of philanthropic support,” according to a statement by the foundation.

John H. Scully, co-founder of the Making Waves Foundation, which was launched in 1989 with the aim of providing an equitable education to underserved students in West County and the Bay Area, said O’Donnell was selected after an extensive national search.

“His passion for students and his ability to think strategically, manage effectively and build relationships all while focusing on outcomes will help drive our strategy, culture and results in the coming decade as we fulfill our mission to educate underserved youth,” Scully said in a statement.

Last year, 95 percent of Making Waves Academy graduates enrolled in college, with school officials crediting an extensive college preparedness program that begins when students first arrive on campus in 5th grade.

Students at Making Waves Academy and other low-income college students across the Bay Area benefit from the foundation’s college success program, CAP, which provides coaching for students throughout college, aiming not only for a college degree but as little debt as possible.

“Currently 90 percent of CAP college students are on track to graduate within six years, compared to the national average of just 11 percent of students from low-income households,” Making Waves Foundation officials said.

Last year, we profiled the CAP program, including a local student who has benefited from it. Read that profile here.

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