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When Toni Pergolin came to Bancroft, the school and service provider for people with brain injuries, autism and intellectual disabilities, she thought the job wouldn’t last long.

“They brought me on as CFO because they were in trouble,” Pergolin says. “I don’t think anyone knew how bad it was. We were looking at closing, merging or bankruptcy.”

A few months in, Pergolin went to Bancroft Day, the school’s annual community gathering, and watched every thought she had about the organization’s future sail right out the window.

“I was struck by how many people were dependent on Bancroft,” Pergolin says. “I realized, ‘Oh, my God, these people need us. We can’t just close the doors; these are people’s lives.”

Over the next 18 months, which Pergolin calls “the most challenging year-and-a-half of my career,” she turned the ship around, divesting out-of-state programs, streamlining billing, soliciting donations and facilitating a return “to the core mission, so we could get smaller, then grow smarter.”

Once the financials were stable, and Pergolin had been named the organization’s President and CEO, she turned her attention to the grounds. “Bancroft’s been around for 135 years, and we looked it,” she says. “We spent the next few years on smart, gradual growth, and then we launched the move.”

Last year, Bancroft’s new, state-of-the-art school opened on 80 acres in Mount Laurel.

“It’s beyond what any of us ever thought possible,” Pergolin says. “Fourteen years ago, I came to close the place, and now we’re here, serving 2000 people. The organization is healthy, and we’re well-positioned for a long future.”

Help honor Toni Pergolin at the 2019 Women of Excellence Awards on June 17 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill. For tickets, click here.

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