Saratoga’s College of Adaptive Arts hires new executive director

The Saratoga-based College of Adaptive Arts, the nation’s first higher education program for people with disabilities, announced the hiring of a new executive director this month.

Nicole Kim, who will take over as executive director on July 1, was previously a professor in the program and director of its school of business, and has a background working in the tech industry. Kim replaces DeAnna Pursai, who co-founded the program in 2009 and will continue to serve with the College of Adaptive Arts (CAA) as director of development and community outreach.

The program is housed at West Valley College in Saratoga and strives to make higher education more accessible to students with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

Though Kim has also served on the organization’s board of directors and taught public speaking courses with the program, she first got involved because of her son, who has Down syndrome. She said she met Pursai through her work with the nonprofit Angels on Stage as she was starting the College of Adaptive Arts while her son was simultaneously aging out of the educational programs he was involved in.

“CAA made sense as a next step for him,” she said.

Kim said she’s looking forward to putting her background in operations to advance the CAA’s work.

“The impact that I want to have is helping to grow the organization, understanding what it takes to run College of Adaptive Arts and fulfilling the vision that we’ve always had of expanding as the Special Olympics for education,” she said.

As executive director, Kim said she hopes to build on what co-founders Pursai and Pamela Lindsay have already accomplished.

“The very top priority is understanding…how are we doing things and what needs to be improved, also understanding where our staff is: Is everybody in the right role, and are they thriving?” she said.

Kim said she also wants to focus on building the CAA’s brand, and spreading awareness about its mission and impact.

“Everybody who meets us loves us, and so I want to focus on getting the word out about the impact we’re making in our community,” she said.

Since Pursai plans to remain involved with the program, Kim said she hopes to rely on her for mentorship as she transitions into the job this summer.

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