South Carolina First Steps announces leadership transition - SC First Steps

South Carolina First Steps announces leadership transition

Columbia, SC – South Carolina First Steps, the state's early childhood agency, today announced the resignation of Georgia Mjartan as executive director, effective June 30, 2024, to become the president and CEO of the Central Carolina Community Foundation starting July 1. The SC First Steps Board of Trustees has appointed Mark Barnes, the agency's current director of administration, as interim executive director while a national search is underway to identify a permanent successor.

"Georgia Mjartan has been an exceptional and visionary leader for early childhood in South Carolina," said David Morley, chairman of the SC First Steps Board of Trustees and the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council. "We are deeply grateful for her invaluable contributions and the strong foundation she has laid for the future here at First Steps."

Mjartan has directed both First Steps and the Early Childhood Advisory Council since 2017. Under her leadership, the agency has achieved numerous milestones, including:

  • Securing permanent agency status within state government in 2023
  • Doubling its reach to serve 55,000 children annually
  • Expanding First Steps 4K statewide, increasing access to public four-year-old kindergarten
  • Developing First Five SC, a groundbreaking technology platform that has earned national recognition for streamlining eligibility and enrollment across more than 40 publicly funded early childhood programs in the state

"As I reflect on our accomplishments for South Carolina's children over the past six and a half years, I am filled with immense gratitude to our staff, board members, agency partners, members of the General Assembly, the Governor and Lt. Governor, our dedicated 4K teachers, and local partnership leaders and staff," said Mjartan. "Together, we have been a unified team, working alongside families to ensure that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in every county start life healthy, safe, ready for school, and surrounded by the support and love they deserve. I am incredibly proud of the positive impact we have had and honored to have served South Carolina's children and families in such a meaningful way."

The South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees is committed to a smooth transition. A committee has been formed to engage an executive recruitment firm and conduct a national search for a new executive director. The committee will review vetted candidates and recommend a final selection to the full Board of Trustees for appointment.

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