WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has appointed is first female director of education in the board’s 23-year history.

The Board of Trustees named Emelda Byrne as the new director. She will start on Aug. 1, 2021.

“Over the last 33 years with our school board, Emelda has demonstrated that she is a qualified leader with superior intellect and integrity,” board chair Fulvio Valentinis said in making the announcement at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Time and again she has shown her commitment to Catholic education, her dedication to the betterment of our students and their families, and her tremendous leadership abilities.”

Byrne will assume the position from current Director Terry Lyons, who recently announced that he would be retiring after a 32-year career. She will be the first female director in the board’s 23-year history.

“I’m humbled and honoured that our trustees have the confidence in me to assume this position,” Byrne said. “We have an excellent team that has managed the past year’s uncertainties exceptionally well. We’ll continue to guide our way through this in the best interests of our students, their families and our staff, and will look forward to the day when things start returning to normal. We have so many reasons to celebrate in our schools. I look forward to sharing in our continued success, and supporting our students as they move along in their academic and faith journeys together.”

Byrne began her teaching career in 1987 with the Simcoe-Muskoka Catholic District School Board, but joined the WECDSB a year later. She has taught in every division and has served as a curriculum consultant, a Vice-Principal at the former St. Bernard Catholic Elementary School, and Principal at St. Maria Goretti, St. Pius X and St. John the Baptist Catholic Elementary Schools.

For the past 14 years she has occupied various administrative positions including Supervising Principal, Superintendent, Executive Superintendent and Associate Director. “Learning together in faith and service.”

“Emelda has a tremendous wealth of experience and is going to be a wonderful leader for this board,” said Terry Lyons. “Besides being a beacon of inspiration to girls and young women who aspire to positions of leadership, she has incredible credentials and an extraordinary history with our schools and our people.”