Karen Calder returning as head of Classroom Central

Karen Calder, Classroom Central CEO
Karen Calder, Classroom Central CEO

Classroom Central, a nonprofit that provides school supplies to students living in poverty, announced Friday that its founding executive director, Karen Calder, is returning to run the agency starting Oct. 6.

Calder left Classroom Central in 2009 and had been CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte since 2011. She had also held leadership positions with Community Blood Center of the Carolinas and the Charlotte Housing Authority since she left the agency.

“My passion has always been the Charlotte community and children,” Calder said in a statement. “When I heard about this opportunity to return to Classroom Central, I felt a real calling to do so. In addition to a wide range of experiences, these past six years have provided me a broader perspective on challenges children in our community face, which will make me a better leader for Classroom Central.”

The Monroe native, who originally studied to be a teacher, was executive director of Classroom Central for seven years, starting in 2002 when it was founded.

As CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte for the past four years, she is credited with growing revenue by 36 percent in tough economic conditions through corporate partnerships, foundation gifts, special events, government funding and individual giving.

In 2013, she led the organization to achieve Gold Standard Status with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for growth in children served and annual revenue. She also stepped up on a personal level to become one of the agency’s “Big Sisters” to an 8-year-old girl. Big Brothers Big Sisters has yet to announce who will replace Calder as CEO.

“We are so fortunate to have Karen return to Classroom Central,” said Jenna Kelly, Classroom Central board chair and Charlotte region president of SunTrust Bank. “She is a well-respected community leader committed to our mission and we know Classroom Central will thrive under her leadership.”

Classroom Central helps students living in poverty learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies.

Operating in six school districts and supporting over 200 schools and over 100,000 students, Classroom Central helps level the playing field for our region’s students in need. Since its inception in 2002, Classroom Central has distributed over $45 million in school supplies. For more information, visit http://www.classroomcentral.org.