Michael Gordon was elected the new chairman of the Board of Education during Monday's board meeting in Staples High School.

He replaces Elaine Whitney, a fellow Democrat who announced last week that she planned to step down from the post, which she held since November 2012. Whitney left the post because she plans to relaunch her personal career in health-care strategy, she said.

Whitney, however, is not leaving the school board and on Monday was elected board secretary.

Several town officials thanked Whitney for her service with Representative Town Meeting member Velma Heller calling her a "consummate professional" and praising Whitney's "personal strength and graciousness."

She said Whitney is a "respectful leader who brings a collaborative effort to every scene, while standing her ground."

Heller also congratulated Gordon on taking over the board leadership.

Faith Taylor, a former school board member, said Whitney always does her homework, adding serving as the board's leader is a "whole different animal" in particular when dealing with the school budget, which she likened to a "long, slow root canal." She said "kudos to Elaine" for all her work as chairwoman.

"Good luck, Michael," she added.

"It's been two years since I sat at this table and I kind of miss those days," First Selectman Jim Marpe said, adding it was a pleasure working with Whitney as chairwoman, adding that the board would be "in good hands with Michael Gordon going forward as well."

Whitney became board chairwoman when she succeeded Marpe, who resigned to run for first selectman.

Marpe said that the school board has been committed to working collaboratively with the town and noted the recent joint efforts on the after school shuttle bus and the bus parking issues.

Gordon has served on the school board since November 2011 and as board secretary since November 2012.

He has a background in education policy and child advocacy, having served in President Bill Clinton's administration as a special assistant on education policy, according to his bio on the Democratic Town Committee website.

He also has sat on the boards of several organizations supporting children, including the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, ADL Connecticut and the Center for Arts Education.

Gordon is the CEO of Group Gordon, a strategic communications firm that was named one of the top 30 agencies for which to work in North America. Formerly with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Gordon earned his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and his JD and MBA from Columbia University.

Whitney, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern, was co-president of the Long Lots Elementary School PTA until appointed to the board in January 2009.