Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard named scholar and former Dukes County commissioner Tom Hallahan as the next executive director of the 35-year-old organization which provides end-of-life care for Islanders and their families.

Mr. Hallahan, who lives in West Tisbury, was introduced to the hospice board of directors, staff, and volunteers at the organization’s regular meeting Wednesday. He will follow Terre Young as executive director of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. Ms. Young is retiring later this summer.

Board president Dr. Kevin Carey said the search committee was impressed with Mr. Hallahan’s career experience, but also with his personal qualities.

“The integrity, kindness and caring that came through during the interview process is what qualifies him for this role,” Mr. Carey said.

Sitting beside his son Kiric at the board meeting, Mr. Hallahan said stepping into the position was a big moment for his family.

“Hospice has such a wonderful reputation on this Island,” Mr. Hallahan said. “To be associated with hospice is a gift.”

He will begin work at the end of May, with the help of Ms. Young, who plans to remain at the organization until the fall. Ms. Young said she is sad to leave Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. “The biggest thing in 2016 is to embrace the change,” she said. “Tom will take care of you well.”

In an interview prior to Wednesday’s official announcement, Mr. Hallahan said he felt blessed to have been offered the position. “It’s a well known and respected organization, a great board, and a pretty phenomenal leader in Terre Young.”

Mr. Hallahan first came to Martha’s Vineyard in 1979, where he worked summer jobs including stints at the Hot Tin Roof and the Kelley House. He began his career in education, working at the Tisbury School and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School through the 1980s.

He purchased a home in Oak Bluffs in 1991, and moved to the Island as a permanent resident in 1999.

Trained as an audiologist, Mr. Hallahan has served in a number of posts as a scholar, consultant and public servant in the United States and around the world, according to his resume. He has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, master’s degrees from Harvard and Ohio State, and a doctorate from Boston University. He was a tenured professor at Salem State University, teaching communication sciences and disorders, education policy, and social justice. He also taught at Boston University, and lectured at Harvard Medical School. He has been a policy consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

In recent years, he served as a consultant in education and healthcare to various private and public organizations in Jordan, Lebanon, Cambodia, Qatar and South Africa. In 2012 Mr. Hallahan was named a Fulbright Scholar, and awarded a grant to teach at the University of Jordan, through a program of the U.S. Department of State.

On Martha’s Vineyard, he has served in various posts, including three terms as an elected Dukes County commissioner and coordinator for Cape Cod Community College on the Island. He has been involved in the Healthy Aging Task Force for Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr. Hallahan is the father of Kiric, a 16-year-old honors student and athlete at Falmouth Academy.

The job of executive director for Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard is not Mr. Hallahan’s first experience with counseling people who are dying. In the 1980s, he was a volunteer with the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, trained to counsel and support people diagnosed with what was then a fatal immune disorder.

“When the AIDS crisis was first on the scene, it was a very different perception, how society responded,” Mr. Hallahan said. “It wasn’t very good. That seems so long ago.”

He also said his experience in private practice as a hearing specialist gave him an understanding of working with geriatric patients who were facing issues surrounding death and dying.

He said he is well aware of the emotional aspects the come with a job focused on dying.

“You can’t take anything away from how difficult it is,” Mr. Hallahan said. “It’s something to be aware of, and sometimes possibly struggle with. It’s a pretty intense world we delve into.”

He said he is confident that the organization has enough support and systems in place to help its employees and volunteers cope with the intimate involvement in the final days of people who live in a small community. He said he is often asked how he can fill the shoes of Ms. Young, who is widely respected and admired.

“I’m not even going to attempt to fill those,” Mr. Hallahan said. “I hope I can make my own path that goes right alongside hers. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”