STOCKBRIDGE — Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health has appointed interim CEO Robert Mulhall to the position on a permanent basis to replace the organization’s former leader Barbara Vacarr, who resigned in January to become an independent consultant. Mulhall’s appointment is effective immediately.
Mulhall, who lives in Stockbridge, joined Kripalu in 2019 as vice president of programming and business strategy after serving the organization for a year as an external consultant. Since joining Kripalu’s staff, Mulhill has led the development of the nonprofit’s online offerings. He has served as the nonprofit’s acting CEO since Vacarr’s departure Jan. 31.
As permanent CEO, Mulhall’s priority will be overseeing the implementation of Kripalu’s new “Strategic Vision for Kripalu,” a plan that he helped formulate last year with Vacarr’s help. It includes the reopening of the nonprofit’s retreat center on Interlaken Road and the continued development of its online programming.
“I am very honored and very excited,” Mulhall said in a telephone interview. “It’s obviously a wild time to step into leadership but I believe so, so deeply in the mission and the people and the community. ... I really believe very deeply in my heart that the work we do at Kripalu can help bring about some changes we’re facing not only as individuals but as a collective society.
“For the last four months I’ve been able to work very closely with the board and develop a very strong partnership,” he said, “and that’s what made me very excited to say yes to this role.”
One of South County’s largest employers, Kripalu closed its retreat center last June due to the coronavirus pandemic, laying off 90 percent of its then 489 employees in the process. The nonprofit has been operating virtually since then. Mulhall said Kripalu does intend to open in 2021, and will release more definitive plans in “the near future.”
“We’re still looking at the different scenarios about what we’re going to do, and what makes sense, obviously,” Mulhall said. “In the United States we seem to be moving in the right direction, but then we’re seeing what’s happening north of the border in Canada and in India and watching all of that very closely.
“We want to open and stay open,” he said. “We don’t want to close.”
In a statement, Marcia Feuer, chair of Kripalu’s board of directors, referred to Mulhall as “a strong and collaborative leader” and that the organization is “grateful” to have him take over during a pivotal time.
“Since taking the role of acting CEO, he has moved quickly to operationalize the new Strategic Vision for Kripalu, working closely with the board, donors, and the entire Kripalu team,” Feuer said. “His decades of experience combined with his calm and thoughtful presence have guided Kripalu to continue to support our community during this period of the global pandemic. As we look ahead to the future, the board is confident in Robert’s leadership in this new era for Kripalu.
Born and raised in Ireland, Mulhall had two decades of experience in leadership roles in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors before coming to Kripalu. His development of Kripalu’s online offerings have delivered more than 170 programs to over 10,000 individuals around the world to date. Last year he helped Vacarr develop Kripalu’s new “strategic vision,” a pathway designed to move the nonprofit forward, that was completed in November.
Mulhall spent the early part of his career in accounting and finance with PwC, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, before shifting his professional focus to human leadership and development.
Mulhall received numerous awards as a social entrepreneur before moving to India, where he led innovative global health programming in partnership with UNICEF, the Gates Foundation and the governments of India, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Ghana. He has also worked a global executive coach and organizational consultant, is a lifelong practitioner of meditation and is a Kripalu certified yoga teacher.