CHICAGO (November 3, 2022) - The Cristo Rey Network Board of Directors announced today that Kelby G. Woodard, Headmaster at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, MN, has been appointed President and CEO of the Network, effective July 1, 2023. Woodard succeeds Elizabeth Goettl, who will be retiring after six years as President and CEO and 14 years of service to the Cristo Rey mission.
Having served as the Founding President at Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep for six years, Woodard has deep experience with the organization’s Catholic, mission-driven work. While successfully establishing Cristo Rey Dallas as a high-performing school enrolling 470 students, he completed a $25 million capital campaign that built a state-of-the-art campus. In 2018, he was elected by peer Cristo Rey school Presidents to serve on the Cristo Rey Network Board and continues that appointment today.
“The Board is very pleased that Kelby is returning to the Cristo Rey family. He has such a deep level of service to our mission and a full understanding of the young men and women we serve,” said Cristo Rey Network Board Chair John E. O’Shea. “Kelby shares our commitment to students achieving college outcomes that offer them access to fulfilling opportunities of their choice. We are excited that he will be the next President and CEO, as Kelby is well qualified to lead our Network into the future.”
Woodard brings a breadth and depth of executive leadership experience and accomplishments to the globally recognized Cristo Rey movement. Prior to founding Cristo Rey Dallas in 2014, Woodard was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives when he was inspired by students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School - Twin Cities as they testified for an education bill he sponsored. As a State Representative, Woodard advocated for school choice and acted as the Minority Lead for Education Finance & Vice-Chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
Before his career path guided him into education and public service, Woodard spent 20 years in global security. He served with the US Customs Service in Washington, DC, and then later as the Director of Global Security at Target Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. While at Target, he strategically designed and implemented a global security program spanning 84 countries, with 34 US distribution centers. He applied this experience to then become the Founding Partner and small business owner of Trade Innovations / TRG Direct, a global security consulting and import software company focused on designing and implementing global security and fraud prevention programs.
“I am thrilled to be asked to serve this mission as the next President and CEO of the Cristo Rey Network. It is a mission that clearly resonates with me and my family,” shared Kelby Woodard. “I look forward to working with our schools to create new possibilities for our students, inspire our partners, and help build the Kingdom of God here on earth.”
Woodard has been recognized in a spectrum of publications, from Catholic media journals to World Customs publications. He is an active volunteer as a 4th Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus and as a member of Legatus. Furthermore, he has held notable board appointments, including Wingstop Charities, Legatus - Dallas Chapter, and Cristo Rey Fort Worth College Prep. Woodard graduated from the University of North Texas, receiving his BS in Criminal Justice. He went on to earn a Certificate of Global Security Studies from Georgetown University and a MBA from the University of Dallas.
In Woodard’s new role, he will oversee the implementation of the organization’s 2026 Strategic Plan. Ms. Goettl’s intention to retire follows the conclusion of the national office's 2023 Strategic Plan, the successful completion of the first nation-wide fundraising campaign, and having ensured a financially sustainable future for the national office. Under her leadership, the Network has grown the number of schools and opportunities for young people across the country, schools have increased student retention, and systematic infrastructure and resources have been incorporated to support schools in their leadership and programmatic efforts.
“I am pleased that Kelby will be further advancing this worthy ministry and look forward to working collaboratively with him to ensure a smooth transition,” remarked Elizabeth Goettl. “I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have led the Cristo Rey Network and be part of this remarkable movement in Catholic education that is changing the futures of our students, their families, their workplaces, and their communities.”
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