After 16 years at the helm of EMPath, a Boston-based nonprofit, CEO Beth Babcock is retiring, leaving behind a legacy of empowerment, hope, and care.

Short for Economic Mobility Pathways, the nonprofit organization’s mission is to improve the lives of those in poverty by providing services to help them improve their economic mobility. Under Babcock’s leadership, which began in 2006, the organization has become a leader in economic mobility in the U.S., according to EMPath. She is to be succeeded by former Boston Mayor Kim Janey.

Babcock led two other nonprofits prior to becoming the CEO of EMPath. She also holds a PhD from Harvard University in nonprofit strategy.

“I am what the academic theorists would call a changemaster,” Babcock said. “I’m a person who comes into organizations that are ripe for change, and then sort of helps make that change happen. That’s how I’m hardwired.”

Babcock’s journey to sitting at the head of EMPath is a winding road. While she was the CEO of another nonprofit and teaching graduate courses at Brandeis University, a colleague of hers, the lawyer and gender-equity advocate Anita Hill, was on the board of a long-standing Boston nonprofit called the Women’s Education and Industrial Union.

Hill told Babcock that the Women’s Union had been looking for a CEO. Hill also let her know that another long-standing Boston organization, Crittenton Inc., was also searching for a leader.

While she didn’t want to lead either of those organizations at the time, Babcock’s interest peaked when Hill informed her that both of them — the two oldest nonprofits serving women in Boston — were in talks to merge.

Babcock knew what she wanted.

“I was not interested in coming to either of the organizations alone,” she said. “But if they voted an intent to merge, and they wanted me to come on to make the merger happen, then I was very excited to do that.” When organizations finally merged in 2006, Babcock became CEO.

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