Polly Klaas® Foundation Appoints New Executive Director

February 28, 2006 - Petaluma, CA –- The Polly Klaas® Foundation, a national organization committed to the recovery of missing children and the promotion of child abduction safety programs, announced today the appointment of its new Executive Director. Mr. Robert De Leo was selected following an extensive and thorough executive search process.

"As a national nonprofit serving families in their local communities, the Polly Klaas® Foundation required a combination of vision, compassion and management expertise in its leader," said Renard Arsenault, the Foundation's Board President. "Robert has just this combination. His wealth of private and community experience, track record of management success and commitment to children will be valued assets in our ongoing efforts to keep America's children safe."

De Leo joins the Polly Klaas® Foundation with a 30-year background in human services and nonprofit administration. His highly diversified career portfolio includes work with organizations serving the needs of many different constituencies. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of Exodus, Inc., an agency providing residential treatment for autistic and severely disabled children and adults. 

"I was drawn to the Foundation because of their commitment to children, lasting community involvement and dedication, and for their recent momentum in advocacy and education programs to keep our children safe," said De Leo. "The mission, the philosophy and the values of the organization are an inspiration and entirely compatible with my personal and professional orientation."

"I am very gratified at having been selected as the Foundation's next Executive Director from a pool of highly qualified candidates," add De Leo. "I look forward to working with our Board of Directors, our talented staff and communities across the nation to keep Polly's legacy alive." 

De Leo has worked with a cross section of public and private sector entities to forge lasting partnerships on behalf of various constituencies. His career has been dedicated to advancing the cause of people with special needs, to creating programs and services that promote the healthy development of young children, and to advocating for policies that elevate the well being of all families. He has served on community boards and advisory committees and has worked with national, state and local legislators to help shape policies in support of the handicapped, the working poor and the needs of children and youth. 

De Leo was the Director of Rehabilitation and the Deputy Director of United Cerebral Palsy Association of Philadelphia. Additional executive-level positions include: Regional Case Management Supervisor for Redwood Coast Regional Center, Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Bay and Executive Director of the Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County.

De Leo holds a BA in Psychology from Temple University and an MA in Counseling from Villanova University. His postgraduate experience includes work in Clinical and Developmental Psychology. He and his wife Mary Ellen King, a marketing communications consultant, have been residents of Sonoma County since 1986.

The Polly Klaas® Foundation
Founded in 1993 following the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, the Polly Klaas® Foundation is a national nonprofit that helps find missing children and prevents them from going missing in the first place. In addition to providing 24-hour casework for families, the Foundation provides education to families and works with legislators for better public policy to protect children. After the successful campaign to implement Amber Alerts in every state and on the federal level, the Foundation has recently worked to inform parents of the dangers of Internet predators by conducting an online behavioral survey of 'tweens' and 'teens.' The results of this poll are guiding the development of a new safety kit on Internet safety. For more information, contact www.PollyKlaas.org or 800-587-4357.