October 11, 2010

Lea Ybarra to step down at the Center for Talented Youth

After nearly 14 years as executive director of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, Lea Ybarra has announced she will step down from her post next spring.

“Under Lea’s leadership, CTY has played an important role in identifying and developing the academic talent of young students across the country and around the world,” said Lloyd Minor, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “What CTY does is inspiring, and what Lea has achieved is remarkable. We are deeply grateful for her vision, passion and service to Johns Hopkins.”

Minor will appoint a universitywide committee to conduct an international search for the next leader of CTY. The search committee will be chaired by Pam Cranston, vice provost for international affairs and vice dean of the Carey Business School.

“Lea has made huge contributions, particularly in diversifying the participants in CTY’s programs, both in terms of race and socioeconomic class,” Cranston said. “She has done a great job raising millions of dollars each year for scholarships to make sure that gifted children everywhere can participate.”

Ybarra cites strengthening CTY’s budget, increasing the diversity of its students and staff, and raising the international stature of CTY as among the major accomplishments of her tenure.

“Despite the economy, we’ve been able to generate greater revenues that have allowed us to increase financial aid and to fund other CTY priorities,” Ybarra said. “When I first came on board, CTY was raising about $200,000 per year for scholarships. By bringing together a strong development team, we now raise millions of dollars per year for scholarships, and have now raised nearly $70 million since we began.”

When Ybarra joined CTY, less than 1 percent of its students received scholarships. Under her leadership, 20 percent of students earn them today.

“One of our priorities is to have students who reflect the face of America,” Ybarra said. “We now have students from all of America’s neighborhoods, from all 50 states.”

Ybarra has also increased CTY’s international presence, with students from 120 countries now participating in its programs. The center currently has partnerships in Ireland, China, Mexico, Spain, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and negotiations are under way in South Korea, Albania, Egypt, Israel and several other countries to replicate CTY’s programs abroad.

At the time of her appointment in 1997, Ybarra was a senior research associate for Olmos Productions/ABC Studios in Los Angeles, where she was involved in a variety of innovative projects, including preparing educational guides for documentaries and being an executive producer for an award-winning HBO documentary. Before that she held a variety of teaching and administrative positions, from department chair to associate provost, at California State University, Fresno. At CSU, she also directed a U.S. Department of Education–funded project that promoted math, science and computer technology for young women and was cited as a national model. Her teaching and research interests have focused on educational equity issues; race, class and gender studies; sociology of the family; and contemporary Latin America. As a scholar in residence at Harvard, she conducted research and wrote on urban education.

CTY identifies top academic students in grades K through 12 and provides challenging summer residential programs, distance education and family academic programs. The center also has special projects that prepare students to enter selective universities, such as the Johns Hopkins CTY Scholars program, and programs preparing them for STEM fields, such as the Center Scholars Program in partnership with Andrew Feinberg of the School of Medicine.

Since its inception 31 years ago, CTY has enrolled 1.7 million students through its talent search program and enrolled 430,000 in its academic programs. Today, 70,000 students participate in the talent search, and 30,000 students enroll in CTY programs. Much of that growth took place under Ybarra’s leadership. “The fact that we’ve grown in all areas into a strong, dynamic organization is a credit to the creative and committed staff who I’ve had the pleasure to work with at CTY,” Ybarra said. “I love the work that CTY does and the difference we make in our students’ lives. And I am grateful to the many colleagues from across Johns Hopkins who have partnered with us, and have lent their support and advice, to create even more opportunities for students,” she said. “This is an amazing institution and a great home for CTY.”