Research Job Became Career of a Lifetime for Charity CEO

When Janet Whitla arrived at the Education Development Center as a young researcher in 1966, she never imagined that she would remain there for 40 years, ultimately becoming president of the nonprofit health and education research organization. In fact, Ms. Whitla, who was born in Fall River, Mass., and has always called the Bay State home, got her start not as an educational researcher but as an aspiring playwright.

"I started out wanting to be a poet and a writer," says Ms. Whitla,