William Gurney (Submitted photo)
William Gurney (Submitted photo)
Friday April 26, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Austine School and The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have hired a new president and CEO, and after a national search the organization's new leader will only have to cross the Connecticut River to report to work.

Keene School District Associate Superintendent William Gurney will take over as president and CEO of the 101-year-old school and education center.

He will replace Bert Carter who is leaving to serve as president and CEO at the Willie Ross School in Longmeadow, Mass.

Gurney is expected to arrive in Brattleboro on July 1.

"This job has a series of challenges I have not had before, and that appealed to me," Gurney said. "There is a wonderful staff there. I am excited."

Gurney will live on campus with his wife.

Gurney has been an administrator for the Keene School District since 2005.

Before coming to work in the central office he served as the principal at Westmoreland School, assistant principal at Milford Middle School and as a teacher at Milford High School.

"We are very excited to have Bill joining our organization," said Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing board Chairman Tom Sonneborn. "He brings with him years of experience in education along with strong understanding of the role of a leader."

Gurney has also worked for independent schools and for non-profit organizations, experiences that search committee member Linda Griffin said convinced the board that he was the right candidate.

The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing hired a national consulting firm to screen candidates and interviews were held with people from Arizona, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

"We had a lot of good candidates," said Griffin, who is director of financial operation support at The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. "He has a passion for education and for kids and he is the right person to take over the organization and help it grow."

Gurney is not deaf and he does not know how to use American Sign Language.

Griffin said the search committee wanted to consider all of the candidates and hire the best person to head the organization.

"He will have a learning curve in communicating," said Griffin. "We wanted to focus on what was best for this organization."

After a number of years of concentrating on the physical grounds of the Brattleboro campus, and investing millions of dollars in upgrading the historic buildings there, Griffin said Gurney will be concentrating on expanding the school's programs around the state, and helping to grow the organization's role as a leader in developing educational programs for students with disabilities.

"We need a leader who will get the organization out there," Griffin said. "We looked at a lot of people, and we think he is the best person to do that."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.