Hampton, CT - EASTCONN is pleased to announce that Gary S. Mala will lead the agency as its next executive director. Mala will begin transitioning into his new EASTCONN role in September. Mala will replace EASTCONN Executive Director Paula M. Colen, who announced that she will retire at the end of September after 37 years with the agency. Colen has been an educator for more than 40 years. She has led EASTCONN as its executive director since 2005.
“I’m delighted that Gary will be EASTCONN’s next executive director,” said Colen. “I’m confident that EASTCONN will be in good hands under Gary’s leadership, as the agency continues to serve the education needs of northeastern Connecticut’s schools and communities.”
Colen has worked in a variety of leadership roles at EASTCONN since its inception in 1980. EASTCONN is one of Connecticut’s six non-profit, Regional Educational Service Centers.
“Gary Mala has 33 years of professional experience in public education, and his background really impressed us,” said Herbert Arico, chairman of EASTCONN’s Board of Directors. “He was an outstanding candidate and we look forward to working with him.” Arico said that Mala was selected following a national search.
“I am deeply appreciative and honored by the opportunity to continue to support the great work and staff of EASTCONN and our member districts,” said Mala. “I also look forward to continuing the tradition of EASTCONN being a superb, relationship-driven organization dedicated to assisting and advocating for our region.”
Mala has been Avon’s superintendent of public schools since 2011. Prior to that, he served as superintendent of schools in Regional School District 17. He was also previously superintendent of schools for the Southwick-Tolland Regional School District in Southwick, Mass., and has held educational leadership positions that included those of high school principal, elementary principal and pupil services director. Mala has taught regular and special education at the elementary level and special education at the high school level.
He completed his doctoral level work at both the University of Hartford and Nova Southeastern University, and earned his superintendent certification and Sixth Year Diploma in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). He also holds a combined master’s degree from SCSU in special education and educational leadership, and has bachelor’s degrees in both elementary and special education from Central Connecticut State University (CCSU).
Mala is a past recipient of the Presidential Award of Achievement as a distinguished graduate from CCSU and was recently awarded the Presidential Award from the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS). He is currently an adjunct professor in the Educational Leadership Department at Quinnipiac University, specializing in graduate level school finance.
Mala has a strong record of advocating at the state legislative level on behalf of schools and communities, and was appointed to U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s (5th District) STEM Advisory Council, serving as chairman of the Council’s Education Subcommittee.