Helping Families Ensure Their Children Enter School Ready to Learn

Chief Executive Officer Transition

After 34 years at Episcopal Children’s Services, Chief Executive Officer Connie Stophel has announced her retirement. Read and view Board Chair Thabata Ford’s message along with Connie’s video announcement below. 


Connie Stophel

Connie Stophel

Episcopal Children's Services Chief Executive Officer

“I’m grateful to have served the community for 30+ years.”

Dear Friends,

As the President of the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Children’s Services, it is with deep, heartfelt gratitude for her service that I announce the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Connie Stophel. Connie has informed us of her decision to retire at the end of 2023.

With 30+ years of service to the Northeast and Central Florida communities, Connie’s leadership spans decades and her commitment to the children and families of Episcopal Children’s Services is unmatched. Connie has reaffirmed our commitment to the mission of the agency and been our north star since stepping into the role in 2003. We believe that all success within an organization requires a strong team of hard workers and leaders, and Connie has been at the helm for over two decades.


Under Connie’s leadership, Episcopal Children’s Services has grown from serving just a few counties in North Florida to the current 14 counties in Northern and Central Florida. Since beginning as a single childcare center in 1966, Episcopal Children’s Services now serves more than 27,000 children and their families through Head Start and Early Head Start education as well as school readiness education services. Specifically, significant growth occurred in the early 1990s as both the number of centers and funding expanded. This allowed ECS to serve hundreds more children and their families. By 1994, almost 3,000 children were being served in the state of Florida through Episcopal Children’s Services. As the agency’s Head Start services increased so did the need across many counties.  Every year and for almost 60 years ECS has worked diligently to change the lives of children and families and uplift our communities.

The organization has had its most successful year-to-date in recent history while the children served make tremendous gains daily across all learning domains, with customized instruction from highly qualified teachers and staff. Connie’s leadership, guidance and experience contributed to this achievement. She has a long legacy at ECS and has crafted a board of trustees who collectively works to uphold that legacy. We are fortunate to have worked alongside a leader with vision and both passion and compassion. We all appreciate her service.

Upon learning of Connie’s planned retirement, the board developed a search committee and has retained a national search firm with experience placing non-profit leaders in dynamic organizations like Episcopal Children’s Services. The search process is underway with the goal of having a new CEO in place no later than January 2024.

In the meantime, please join me and the Episcopal Children’s Services Board of Trustees in wishing Connie well as she moves forward in her journey.

With Gratitude,
Thabata Ford
Episcopal Children’s Services Board of Trustees President

Our Mission

The mission of ECS is to create opportunity so that the children we serve can achieve their full potential.

Our Vision

ECS will be a recognied leader in early childhood education and a (501)(C)(3) with a strong entrepreneurial spirit that uses research and best practices to help families ensure their children enter school ready to learn. 

Transition Announcement News Release

ECS Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer