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Clara Martin

Chief Executive Officer

Her first day on the job

It was the day before the student art exhibit in December 2008, and everything was abuzz. Not one to stand back while others work–or to care about lofty titles like CEO– Clara Martin rolled up her sleeves and pitched in, framing pictures, ordering food, doing last minute cleanup, and working until 9 p.m. with the rest of the team. “Why are you doing this?” asked one of the students as Clara wiped a table, and she answered, simply, that it needed to be done.

That’s the example Clara Martin has set throughout her long career in public education, and is setting now as CEO of the Cincinnati Arts & Technology Center (CATC). Taking responsibility for doing what needs to be done is the first lesson she and her staff teach kids who are at risk of not graduating. That work ethic has helped make CATC one of the most successful programs around, changing the lives of the most at-risk students by helping them set goals, dream dreams, and graduate at the rate of more than 90%.

It’s all about the students.

Clara’s experience in public education included extensive administrative leadership roles, which were good background for leading an agency. But she’s always made it a point to return to positions where she can work directly with the children-as a primary teacher, an assistant principal, working with students with disabilities or children in crises. “It’s the personal relationships with the students that keep me grounded in what’s most important,” she declares.

At CATC, that mixed background has enabled Clara to get things done with great speed and efficiency. In her short time at CATC , she has brought in several new grants including the prestigious Social Innovation Fund grant. To ensure her students have every chance to succeed, she introduced new mental health counseling and social services, and launched a ground- breaking workforce development program called “Bridging the Gap.” CATC became known far and wide, through feature stories on network TV programs, in local papers and journals, and as part of a 2011 case study in the highly regarded “Grad Nation” report. And graduation rates for CATC seniors reached an all-time high of 95.5%, for the 2009-2010 school year.