PORTLAND, Maine — A former head of private schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will be the new leader at Catherine McAuley High School.

Deborah Kost will begin work Aug. 25 at the Catholic all-girls school, succeeding Margaret Downing, who is returning to her family and professional life in Massachusetts, according to a McAuley press release Friday.

Downing resigned in June after three years on the job.

Kost has worked in education for 20 years as an administrator and teacher. Most recently, she worked as a consultant for several schools, including an all-girls school in Philadelphia. Previously, she was head of school for the Haddonfield Friends School in New Jersey, dean of students for the Friends Select School, and head of school for The Janus School, both in Pennsylvania.

“We are thrilled to welcome Deborah to Catherine McAuley. She shares our passion for providing a world-class academic program and deeply understands the value of an all-girls education,” Heidi Osborn, chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees, said in the press release.

McAuley is the only all-girls Catholic preparatory high school in Maine and was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1873.