New Leader Is Committed to Mission of Promoting Positive Youth Development and Advancing Equity

After a nationwide search, the Search Institute Board of Directors has named Ben Houltberg, Ph.D., LMFT, as our new President and CEO. 

Ben is a developmental scientist, former tenured faculty member, social entrepreneur, and experienced marriage and family therapist. 

He is widely published on topics including adolescent social and emotional competencies, resilience through relationships, and character and identity development through sports. He has proven success in leading large research teams and has consulted with several high-performance organizations to create thriving cultures. He has been instrumental in developing tools and resources aimed at promoting resilience through relationships. 

Ben has been a member of the Search Institute team since February 2020, holding the positions of Vice President of Research and Practice and Interim President and CEO.

Opening a New Chapter

"It is an incredible honor to lead the next chapter of this tremendous organization with decades of experience conducting and communicating findings from applied research to address critical issues in young people's lives,” says Ben. “Search Institute was monumental in shifting the problem-focused narrative on youth to recognizing and supporting young people’s potential through building developmental assets and relationships. This will continue to be a pillar of our work, but we know that in order to fully realize our mission, we must also further understand how inequities in systems of access, opportunity, justice, and power undermine the ability of youth to realize their potential. To this end, we will continue to focus our efforts on collaborating with and supporting organizations working to eliminate barriers, accentuate strengths, and meet the needs of all youth."

A Career Devoted to Relationships

“Ben is an exceptionally qualified leader who has worked to improve the lives of young people through his entire career, with a strong understanding of cultural competence and a deep commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” says Tom Holman, Chair of the Search Institute Board of Directors. “After conducting a national search and involving both our staff and our board, we know he’s the right person to be at the helm in this next chapter of Search Institute’s bright future.” 

In his work as a licensed counselor, Ben has worked extensively with youth living in socioeconomic disadvantage. He has served as a family support specialist, adolescent group counselor, vocational counselor and therapist, and practicum and internship clinical supervisor. He has held academic positions at Purdue University–Fort Wayne, Fuller School of Psychology, and the University of Southern California. 

Ben is also a former NCAA Division I athlete and ran professionally after college. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Oklahoma State University and an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling from Oral Roberts University.


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