NCEA Board of Directors Appoints Dr. Thomas Burnford as New President and CEO

Dr. Burnford brings commitment, passion and a bold vision to NCEA.



The National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) Board of Directors is pleased to name Thomas W. Burnford, D. Min., current Secretary for Education for the Archdiocese of Washington, as president and CEO of NCEA effective August 8, 2016.  Dr. Burnford was selected following a nationwide search begun in March.

Bishop George Murry, chairman of the NCEA Board of Directors said, “I am grateful to the NCEA board for appointing Dr. Thomas Burnford to serve as our new president. It has been a pleasure for me to work with him as interim president since December 2015. Along with his demonstrated commitment to Catholic schools, Dr. Burnford brings to his new position a bold vision for the future of NCEA and how it may be of even greater service to Catholic school students, teachers, administrators, and staff members. In the name of all those who value Catholic education, I welcome Dr. Burnford.”

I am deeply honored and humbled by the board’s decision,” said Dr. Burnford. “I am grateful to have this opportunity to lead NCEA because, quite simply, I believe in and have great passion for NCEA’s mission to assist those who work so hard every day in Catholic schools to form faith-filled disciples, especially the teachers, staff, principals, pastors and superintendents.

Dr. Burnford was appointed NCEA interim president in December 2015, while he continued to serve the Archdiocese of Washington as Secretary for Education. At the Archdiocese of Washington, Dr. Burnford managed the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Director for Catechesis, and 22 professional staff members. He had oversight of Catholic education, including executive leadership of a system of 94 Catholic schools and 139 parish religious education programs serving more than 50,000 students and 30,000 adults.

Some of the highlights of Dr. Burnford’s two-decade career in the archdiocese include, developing and implementing policies for Catholic schools, including strengthening Catholic identity, establishing regional school agreements, and designing protocols for school viability planning; working with Cardinal Wuerl and pastors to increase tuition assistance to $6 million (from $800,000 in 2007) for students; lobbying and advocacy initiatives at the local, state and national levels, including support of the Opportunity Scholarship Program; restructuring urban Catholic schools resulting in the successful Consortium of Catholic Academies that now serves over 700 inner-city students; executive planning for major events within the archdiocese, including archdiocesan catechetical days, large-scale strategic planning events and two papal visits (Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and Pope Francis in 2015); transitioning the archdiocese from individual school accreditation to a comprehensive system accreditation through AdvancEd.

NCEA is the largest private professional education organization in the world, representing more than 150,000 Catholic educators serving nearly 2 million students in Catholic preschool, elementary and secondary schools. NCEA provides leadership and professional development to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching mission of the Church and to lead, learn and proclaim the good news of Catholic school education. For more information on NCEA, go to


Rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is a professional membership organization that assists its members to fulfill their teaching mission of the Church and to lead, learn and proclaim the good news of Catholic school education. For more information, visit