Search Institute Team | Announcements


Dr. Ben Houltberg Appointed Search Institute Interim President and CEO

The Board of Directors of Search Institute has appointed Dr. Benjamin Houltberg interim President and CEO effective July 1, 2021. In that capacity, Dr. Houltberg will succeed Dr. Kent Pekel, who is leaving Search Institute to become interim Superintendent of Schools in Rochester, Minnesota. The board has also launched a search for a permanent President and CEO. Information about the search process is available through a link below.

Search Institute board chair Tom Holman said of Dr. Houltberg, “Since joining the Search Institute team a little more than a year ago, Ben has won the confidence of the Search Institute board, staff, and many of our closest partners and funders. He is a strong scholar and leader and we are excited that he will guide our organization through the transition from the extraordinary leadership that Kent Pekel has provided for Search Institute for the past nine years. The board is deeply committed to continuing Search Institute’s multi-year and multi-method initiative to study and strengthen developmental relationships in the lives of young people growing up in marginalized communities, and we know that Ben Houltberg can maintain the momentum of that effort in the critical months ahead.”

Current Search Institute President and CEO Kent Pekel applauded the board’s selection of Dr. Houltberg, commenting that, “People often talk about the urgent need to bridge research and practice to help all young people thrive, but Ben really does that in very tangible ways, day in and day out. In fact, he lives it.”

Dr. Houltberg had the following to say about his appointment: “In many ways I have been preparing for this opportunity my entire professional life, from the years I spent in youth-serving organizations as a practitioner to the studies I did as a researcher at several universities. I look forward to utilizing all of those experiences to help Search Institute achieve its mission of promoting positive youth development and advancing equity.”

Ben Houltberg is a developmental scientist, former tenured faculty member, and experienced licensed marriage and family therapist. He is widely published in topics such as the socialization of adolescent emotion regulation, promoting resilience through adversity, character, and identity development in sports. Ben has a strong record of procuring grant funding and leading interdisciplinary research teams. His motivation to pursue his doctoral degree emerged from his clinical experience and desire to empower youth facing tremendous adversity due to socio-economic disadvantage and marginalization. As a result, he is passionate about linking research insights with practitioner wisdom to have maximum impact on the lives of young people.

Information on the search for a permanent President and CEO is available here. The search will remain open until July 9, 2021, or until the position is filled. Diverse candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.