Kathryn Shea, chief executive officer of The Florida Center for Early Childhood, has announced her plans to retire from the organization. Shea, who has been with The Florida Center for the past 20 years, will stay in her role through June 30, 2020. The board of directors aims to have the position filled by July 1, 2020. The Florida Center, which provides developmental therapies, mental health services, and early education to children ages 0-8, was founded in 1979; Shea joined the organization in 2000. She worked in various clinical and administrative capacities as infant mental health supervisor, vice president and executive vice president of mental health and child welfare services, and CEO, overseeing all agencies services and programs.
Shea is recognized as a state expert in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and infant mental health and has been active in government, requesting legislative funding that led to the establishment of the state’s first FASD diagnostic and intervention clinic. The clinic, located at The Florida Center’s Sarasota campus, provides statewide FASD assessments and training. Shea was also instrumental in securing a $9 million Cooperative Agreement with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2005 to build an early childhood mental health system of care in Sarasota County over a six year period. Shea is a past chairperson of the Community Alliance of Sarasota County and currently serves as co-chair of the group’s Legislative Advocacy Committee. Additionally, she was involved with the launch of a school-based mental health program in partnership with Sarasota County Schools and The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, addressing the behavioral and emotional needs of elementary school children.