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Former interim Boston schools chief to lead early education provider

Laura Perille (Chris Morris for The Boston Globe)Chris Morris for The Boston Globe

Laura Perille loves a challenge, and she’s ready for her next one: tackling early education.

Perille – who recently served as interim superintendent of the Boston Public Schools – will become the next chief executive of Nurtury, a 140-year-old institution that is one of the biggest providers of early education and care in Greater Boston.

Perille starts Jan. 2, taking the reins from Mary Kay Leonard who has been the interim chief executive for 18 months after longtime leader Wayne Ysaguirre stepped down.

Nurtury operates six centers serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in such neighborhoods as Roxbury, Mission Hill, and Jamaica Plain, and provides support to 130 family child-care providers in the region. All told the nonprofit serves more than 1,200 children and families.


Perille arrives at a time when leaders in both the private and public sectors are making high-quality early education a priority. That means making preschool accessible and affordable to more families, while helping to build a pipeline of early educators. Studies have shown that children in preschool programs have better outcomes, from graduating high school to getting a job.

It was this nexus of responsibilities that drew Perille to Nurtury.

“The real kicker for me is that the organization exists in a complex policy area,” Perille said. “Being the leader of a direct service provider that is close to the ground and brings deep understanding of the real implications of policy decisions is a very exciting place to be.”

Leading Nurtury also represents Perille’s return to the nonprofit sector, where she made her mark.

Before her year-long stint as BPS superintendent overseeing a $1.3 billion budget and 55,000 students, Perille was one of the founding members and the longtime chief executive of EdVestors, the Boston nonprofit that partners with donors and education leaders to help improve public schools.


Leonard, who also helped with the search process, said Perille has both the “strategic vision and operational ability to move Nurtury forward.”

Leonard said Nurtury has been growing — serving 100 more children today compared to a year ago – and its ability to fill teacher vacancies is improving. But Nurtury’s success can only go so far without broader policy fixes. “It’s our responsibility to be at the policy table,” said Leonard. “Unless policy changes are made, Nurtury cannot thrive.”

Ad CEO joins collective

Pam Hamlin left her job leading one of Boston’s biggest ad agencies last year, thinking she might end up promoting just one company for a change, as a chief marketing officer. Others figured the Arnold Worldwide chief executive would land at another conglomerate-owned agency.

But the ad industry is becoming more fractured, as the old model that once fueled Arnold and other major agencies fades away.

So Hamlin opted for a less traditional route.

She ended up joining what is essentially a startup, and a quirky one at that. She recently helped launch York Creative Collective with founder and chief executive Travis York. Other executives on the YCC team include Mark Battista, a former executive who worked with Hamlin at Arnold.

The collective resembles a conglomerate of sorts, with the ad agency GYK Antler as its foundation. York acquired the Antler ad agency in 2011 and since that time has invested in several other businesses that are now under the YCC umbrella. They include York Athletics, a sneaker designer in the South End; video production company Big Brick; the Iron & Air motorcycle magazine; and drum manufacturer Noble & Cooley. The premise: to unite disparate creative endeavors in a way that can support the core ad business, and each other. About 120 people collectively work for the various YCC companies; it has offices in Downtown Crossing and Manchester, N.H.


“It’s an innovative business model that elevates creativity and entrepreneurship to accelerate growth across a portfolio of really interesting companies,” Hamlin, YCC’s president, said in an e-mail. “And as the Greater Boston region continues its renaissance, we think YCC fills an important gap in the creative economy.”

Brokerage hires designer

CBRE does a lot of business helping companies lease office space in this town. Now the brokerage wants to help them design it, too. The real estate giant just hired Cerise Marcela from design firm Gensler, part of an expansion of its Workplace Strategy division focusing on data and design to help companies make the most of their precious, pricey square footage.

Marcela, whose resume at Gensler includes work on Partners HealthCare’s big new building in Somerville and Reebok’s new headquarters in the Seaport, is CBRE’s second big-name workplace strategy hire in recent months.

In May, the company brought in Alan Koder, a longtime director at Johnson & Johnson Innovation Labs, for a similar role focused on life-sciences companies.

Program nears milestone

When Richard Bliss and his team from Babson College helped investment bank Goldman Sachs launch its 10,000 Small Businesses mentorship program nearly a decade ago, he wondered how the program could ever reach the aspirational goal featured in its name. The first cohort of graduates totaled just 23, from an inaugural class at LaGuardia Community College in New York.


Now, the Babson professor has a different question: What will happen after the program’s graduates exceed that number?

More than 9,000 entrepreneurs have graduated so far. And the 10,000 threshold gets even closer, following the graduation on Monday of nearly 100 Rhode Island entrepreneurs. Goldman Sachs pays for the classes; small-business owners attend for free. The classes can last for three to four months and many entrepreneurs take them at community colleges on Fridays, applying what they learned to their businesses immediately.

Bliss and other professors at Babson in Wellesley designed the curriculum and train the community college instructors. The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, the Boston nonprofit founded by Michael Porter and led by Steve Grossman, recruits the participants.

The latest graduation event in Providence drew such dignitaries as Governor Gina Raimondo, Mayor Jorge Elorza of Providence, and Goldman Sachs executive vice president John Roger s. Rogers also joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen at a similar ceremony in New Hampshire in October.

Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, says the company has bankrolled the program because small businesses are seen as the engine that drives the economy. The more successful they are, the better off the economy will be. “Small businesses have an outsized impact on their communities,” Pompey says. “Small business is no small thing.”


Bliss, the program’s national academic director, says the 10,000 mark will be reached sometime next year. The program’s future is up to Goldman Sachs.

“It’s clear that we have something that works,” Bliss says. “The only question is, how do you move forward after 10,000? They haven’t come up with an answer to that yet, but I honestly can’t imagine them saying we’ve hit 10,000 and we’re done.”

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