Cincinnati schools leader to take top post at workforce agency

Cincinnati Works, a 25-year-old nonprofit juggernaut that has created more than $150 million in benefits to the Greater Cincinnati region, has named Tianay Amat as its next president and chief executive officer.

Amat, whose first day will be May 10, brings more than 20 years of experience as a teacher and administrator to the role, including the past 11 months as interim superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. She became interim superintendent when Laura Mitchell resigned to become CEO of another nonprofit superstar, Beech Acres Parenting Center.

Tianay Amat

“I am excited to continue to pursue my passion to eliminate poverty with an organization that believes in the resiliency of the human spirit and the collective strength of employer partnerships,” Amat said. “Over the past 26 years, Cincinnati Works has eliminated barriers to employment and demonstrated that a job is just the beginning to economic self-sufficiency. I am honored to join this remarkable and dedicated team.”

Amat will replace Peggy Zink, who is retiring after 13 years as president and chief executive officer. Zink will remain with the organization through May 31 to help with the transition.

Zink’s tenure is highlighted by the addition of workforce coaching and financial coaching, so its members have the support they need to not only get a job but succeed on the job and establish personal and professional stability.

“Peggy has been a great leader as Cincinnati Works has grown substantially and found innovative ways to serve our members,” said Tom Gilman, lead director of the Cincinnati Works board of trustees. “The foundation she leaves behind provides a great platform for Tianay to build on, and we are excited about the opportunity to support her and work to make an even bigger impact on the community.”

Amat spent the past five years as deputy superintendent and then interim superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, where she led a district with 65 schools and 36,000 students. She was a candidate this year to become Cincinnati’s permanent superintendent, but was passed over by the school board in favor of Detroit’s deputy superintendent.

Over the last several years, Cincinnati Works invested in workforce coaching and financial coaching while adapting its traditional job-readiness training and career coaching to a virtual format, so more members can engage with the organization beyond the job search.

Cincinnati Works is a $5.6 million nonprofit, launched by prominent business leader Dave Phillips, former head of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, to eliminate poverty. After retiring from a successful career as an accountant, consultant, and business leader, Phillips and his wife, Liane, began researching organizations across the country that addressed poverty through employment. They found that the most successful organizations focused on job retention and advancement rather than simply job placement. So they formed Cincinnati Works in 1996 on a model of one-on-one coaching.

Twenty-five years later, coaching remains the backbone of the organization. Its staff works daily with clients to identify their strengths and goals while honing the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. It partners with more than 75 employers who not only hire its clients but work with the organization to help them forge careers. Cincinnati Works also partners with other nonprofit agencies to help its clients address a range of challenges that might otherwise hinder them. The organization has served more than 8,000, 70% of whom who have earned a job are able to hold it for a year or more.

“We are grateful for Peggy Zink’s leadership and her tireless advocacy for the elimination of financial poverty,” said Lee Stautberg, a member of the Cincinnati Works board and co-chair of the search committee for the next CEO. “Tianay Amat brings a deep bench of skills, talent and experience to Cincinnati Works. We look forward to a bright future for Cincinnati Works and its Members under Tianay’s leadership.”

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