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James A. Balfanz named CEO of City Year

Boston (December 6, 2019) – After a rigorous national search, City Year’s board of trustees has selected James A. Balfanz, a City Year alumnus who has served as the organization’s president for nine years, as the organization’s new chief executive officer. City Year partners with teachers and schools in 29 cities across the country to ensure that all students have access to the learning environments and resources they need to thrive.

Jim Balfanz photo

“We are exceptionally pleased that Jim has agreed to take this leadership role,” said David L. Cohen, chair of City Year’s board of trustees. “He is deeply committed to creating the conditions for all members of the City Year community to meet their potential and thrive – students, AmeriCorps members, staff, and partners. I can say with the utmost confidence that the search has succeeded in identifying exactly the right person to serve as our next leader during this time of enormous momentum for the organization.”

After serving as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Boston in 1993, Balfanz joined City Year staff and most recently served as president.  Balfanz led City Year’s strategic shift in focus to supporting students’ holistic success in systemically under-resourced schools by tapping into the unique strengths of young adults serving as AmeriCorps members. Prior to his time as president, Balfanz held various roles at City Year including chief operating officer and served as the founding executive director of City Year Philadelphia.

Balfanz is a recognized leader and innovator in the education field. He served as a Distinguished Educator on the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and is currently a member of the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance. He is also an Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network Fellow, alumnus of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, and serves on the boards of Eye to Eye, Compass Academy, and City Year UK.

Jim Balfanz City Year AmeriCorps Alum and CEO

“Serving as an AmeriCorps member 25 years ago changed the trajectory of my life, and I continue to passionately believe in the founding vision of City Year—along with the potential of our students and AmeriCorps members,” said Balfanz. “I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve this organization as its CEO and to work alongside our talented team to ensure that our young people have every opportunity to thrive and contribute to the success of our communities.”

City Year co-founder Michael Brown stepped down as CEO of the organization this summer after 12 years in the role and is now serving as senior advisor and charter trustee. A CEO search committee, chaired by City Year Trustee George Nichols III and representing a wide array of City Year stakeholders, worked with the prominent national firm, Isaacson, Miller, to identify candidates in the search. Cohen and national Board Chair Emeritus Jonathan Lavine conducted the final interviews and recommended Balfanz as the next CEO of City Year.

“The search committee was incredibly impressed with the diverse and accomplished candidate pool, among which Jim stood out as the right leader to guide the organization into the future,” said Nichols.

Balfanz assumes his new position effective immediately.


About City Year

City Year helps students and schools succeed. Diverse teams of City Year AmeriCorps members provide support to students, classrooms and the whole school, helping to ensure that students in systemically under-resourced schools receive a high-quality education that prepares them with the skills and mindsets to thrive and contribute to their community. A 2015 study shows that schools that partner with City Year were up to two-to-three times more likely to improve on math and English assessments.

A proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network, City Year is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, local school districts and private philanthropy. City Year partners with public schools in 29 communities across the U.S. and through international affiliates in the U.K. and South Africa. Learn more at, City Year’s Facebook page, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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