Smart Start chief stepping down

Karen Ponder, president of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, will be leaving the organization by Feb. 15 next year.

The Partnership, based in Raleigh, oversees Smart Start early childhood care and education programs in 79 communities across the state.

Ponder says she will remain on board up to six months while a board committee conducts a national search for her successor.

She does not consider this a retirement, says a spokesperson for the organization, and plans to seek other opportunities after a smooth transition has been completed.

Smart Start programs aim to improve early childhood care and education, increase access to affordable, high-quality care and provide access to health services.

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