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Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Appoints Karen Niemi as Executive Director

November 27, 2023

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI) proudly announces the appointment of Karen Niemi as its executive director, effective December 1, 2023.

Niemi assumes her role at a pivotal moment, marked by an unprecedented demand for high-quality professional development and classroom instruction in social and emotional learning (SEL) within pre-K to 12 school communities. In the wake of the pandemic and a growing youth mental health crisis, SEL in schools has emerged as an even more vital component of the educational landscape. Dr. Marc Brackett, director of the Center and professor at the Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center, expressed his enthusiasm for Niemi's appointment:

We are ecstatic to welcome Karen Niemi to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Her unwavering dedication to supporting our nation’s youth and the adults who serve them, combined with her strategic acumen and innovative spirit, will undoubtedly propel our Center's work to new heights. I eagerly anticipate the new dimensions of success our Center will achieve under her leadership.

Marc Brackett, Ph.D.

Karen Niemi is internationally recognized for her transformative tenure as President and CEO of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Through her leadership, CASEL attained global stature, positioning SEL as a critical educational initiative. Niemi's vision, manifested through strategic partnerships, operational enhancements, diversified funding sources, and the development of effective teams, significantly expanded CASEL's influence and impact.

Before assuming her position at CASEL, Niemi held diverse roles in the education and SEL sector, notably serving as a distinguished CEO and President for SEL and education publishing enterprises. Additionally, she garnered respect as an advisor to school districts, schools, educational publishing companies, and non-profit organizations. Niemi's reputation as a catalyst for positive change in education precedes her, firmly establishing her as a trusted figure in advancing SEL initiatives.

As executive director of the YCEI, Niemi will collaborate closely with Dr. Brackett and the executive team to enhance strategic alignment and explore new growth opportunities. She will play a critical role in bolstering the Center’s mission, augmenting RULER program revenues, optimizing operational efficiency, and promoting innovation that leads to high-quality, socially impactful services.

It is an honor to be part of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s enduring mission to create healthier and more equitable, innovative, and compassionate communities through the power of emotions. I look forward to deepening the impact and reach of our work, ensuring that YCEI’s initiatives and offerings not only continue to set the standard in SEL but also reflect the evolving needs of educators and students in this dynamic educational climate.

Karen Niemi

Niemi succeeds Scott Levy, under whose guidance the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence expanded its digital footprint with a custom online learning platform for RULER-trained schools, diversified professional development offerings, and initiated various models to support the sustainability of Center operations.

Submitted by Erin Brough on November 27, 2023