FAIRFIELD — A federal education official from Portland has been chosen to oversee the Good Will-Hinckley Home for Boys & Girls, the organization’s board of directors said Monday.

Starting next month, Glenn Cummings will be president and executive director of the 121-year-old residential school, which served at-risk youths until its core operations closed last summer because of financial problems.

Cummings now is deputy assistant secretary of education in the U.S. Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

Cummings, a former speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, said he decided to accept the position because “my heart and my family are in Maine.”

“Good Will-Hinckley has been successfully doing this work for decades,” he said, “so the opportunity to be on the ground, leading an organization toward today’s most valuable educational practices and most sustainable fiscal policies, appealed to me very much.”

A Good Will spokeswoman declined to say how much Cummings will be paid.

His hiring comes at a turbulent time for the nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1889 by the Rev. George Walter Hinckley.

A new strategic business plan calls for the institution to revive programs and traditions while aggressively pursuing financial survival through new partnerships, real estate deals and off-campus programs.

In announcing its new president, Good Will’s board said it has started talks with the Maine Community College System to “explore potential opportunities and areas of common interest for both organizations.”

Good Will-Hinckley is on a sprawling, 2,450-acre campus in Fairfield and has about 45 buildings.

Citing reduced state and federal funding and a diminished endowment, the school’s board of directors decided to shut down Good Will’s core residential and school programs as of Sept. 1, 2009. The shutdown resulted in 110 layoffs and forced the school’s 46 students to make other living arrangements.

Cummings, 49, said Monday that Good Will “plays an important part in Maine’s history and will play an important part in its future.”

Education has played a key role in Cummings’ experience; he started as a teacher at Gorham High School.

Cummings has since worked as executive director of the Portland Partnership, working with businesses and high school students; served as dean of advancement at Southern Maine Community College; and been a Democratic legislator from Portland, serving as House speaker from 2007 to 2008.

As a legislator, he was House chair of the Education Committee. He sponsored a bill that converted the state’s technical colleges into today’s Maine Community College System.

Cummings was co-chairman of the Obama for Maine campaign and was appointed last year to the federal education post.