After nearly 40 years as president and CEO of The Kennedy Center in Trumbull, Martin D. Schwartz will retire in mid-January 2018.
The community-based rehabilitation organization nonprofit was founded in 1951 by its namesake Evelyn Kennedy and 12 parents. When Schwartz became the first president and CEO of The Kennedy Center in 1978, it served about 200 adults with intellectual disabilities, employed 48 staff and operated with an annual budget of $776,000. Now headquartered in Trumbull, The Kennedy Center serves over 2,000 individuals annually from birth through their senior years with a variety of disabilities, employs more than 750 staff and operates with an annual $32 million budget. The agency is one of the largest employers in the region and one of the largest rehabilitation organizations in the state of Connecticut.
The Kennedy Center was the first organization in Connecticut to start Travel Training, which assists individuals with disabilities and the elderly throughout the state to access public transportation. Care for the Caregiver, created by The Kennedy Center, is a nationally recognized program providing training and support enabling adults with Intellectual Disabilities and their elderly parents to assist each other so they can remain in their own home. The Norma F. Pfriem Foundation Alzheimer’s Center at Faust Hall is another unique program assisting those with intellectual disabilities and Alzheimer’s to maintain a high quality of life.
In addition to the development of new programs, Schwartz also oversaw two major million-dollar capital campaigns that led to the expansion of The Kennedy Center.
Schwartz has also served as president of the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce; president of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport, a civic organization supporting individuals with disabilities; and president of the Connecticut Community Providers Association, the statewide advocacy organization for organizations serving individuals with disabilities.
In 2000, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Bridgeport for his humanitarian accomplishments. Other honors have included the Regional Leadership Award from the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award from the Bridgeport Dental Association, Probian of the Year from the Probus Club of Bridgeport, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Community Providers Association and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission Humanitarian Award.
The Kennedy Center expects to name Schwartz’s successor later this year.