September 16, 2016 – Human rights organization Amnesty International USA is looking for a new executive director and has turned to Koya Leadership Partners for leadership assistance. Managing partner Molly Brennan and principal Sam Simmons are leading the search.
Amnesty seeks a seasoned professional who can, above all else, work collaboratively. “The organization needs a leader who can bring a wide range of interconnected stakeholders – staff, board, membership, and partners at the international level – together to advance human rights in the U.S. and around the world,” said Ms. Brennan.
“The executive director must offer deep human rights expertise domestically and internationally, have exceptional collaboration and communications skills — including the ability to inspire and mobilize a grassroots membership group of more than 200,000, work in close partnership with colleagues around the globe, and understand the nuances and have a deep sense of respect for the power of grassroots organizing.”
Ms. Brennan said the search “is truly unique” because “Amnesty is such a unique organization. It’s grassroots membership, it’s connection to the global human rights movement, and its rich history all make AIUSA a singular organization.”
Wanted: Mission-Driven Vision
Amnesty is a global movement of seven million supporters, members, and activists who campaign for internationally recognized human rights to be respected, protected, and fulfilled. Its vision is for everyone to enjoy all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. Its iconic logo has been recognized worldwide for freeing prisoners of conscience, working against torture and the death penalty, speaking out for civilians in armed conflict, bringing human rights abusers to justice, influencing legislation and policy, protecting human rights defenders, strengthening the international human rights framework, and many other human rights concerns.
Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with non-profits and social enterprises. This year Koya was recognized as one of the top 50 search firms in the Americas by Hunt Scanlon Media. The firm has recruited executive directors and CEOs for Hudson Webber Foundation, The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois, Glazer Children’s Museum, and Tourette Association of America, among many others. The firm is currently heading executive leadership positions for Opportunity International, University of Puget Sound, the Fidelity Foundation, Naples Botanical Garden, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, and Nathan Cummings Foundation.
Ms. Brennan leads Koya’s executive level searches within social service and social justice organizations. Partnering with boards of directors and senior leaders to identify and place leaders, she has led recruitment assignments for a range of clients, including the William Davidson Foundation, Sierra Club, Right to Play, Slow Food USA, and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Non-Profits Present Viable Career Pathways for Industry Leaders
With a flurry of non-profit organizations seeking top leaders in recent years, executives from all walks of the corporate world continue to flock to the sector, hoping to transfer the skills they’ve honed.
“Non-profits have realized that the hard skills that many candidates bring from the for-profit sector, including strategic planning and execution, change management, financial and operational expertise, and people management, are just as important as passion for a mission when it comes to delivering on measurable goals,” said Ms. Brennan. “We are no longer in an era when an organization can ask for and receive funding, whether from a foundation, the government, or an individual donor, without demonstrating its impact and the effective use of those resources.”
Candidates with business experience can offer the skills needed to ensure that non-profits “meet their fiscal responsibilities and demonstrate that they truly are creating measurable change,” said Ms. Brennan. But she said that “challenges exist when bringing in people from the for-profit sector, including ensuring culture fit and managing their transition into a new environment and a new way of doing business.”
“Non-profits are seen as viable career paths for top industry leaders,” said Koya chief executive Katie Bouton. “Today, 80 percent of the candidates we see are at the executive level. As a result, candidates and clients are demanding personalized attention and sector-specific expertise from search professionals.”
Blurring Line Between For-Profit and Non-Profit
In order to make a successful placement, and be credible with candidates and clients, said Ms. Bouton, “recruiters in this field really need to be embedded in the non-profit sector.” The line between the for-profit and non-profit sectors is increasingly blurring, she added, “meaning that top professionals are switching back and forth between the corporate sector and the non-profit sector throughout their careers. Top recruiters need to be able to leverage and tap both worlds.”
Ms. Brennan noted that inspirational non-profit leaders can come from either the for-profit or non-profit sector. “What matters is that they have both measurable skills and experiences and the heart for the mission.” It is a highly unique combination that makes finding inspirational leaders challenging.
“At Koya, we employ a wide range of techniques to ensure that we are continually building our network of transformational leaders and that our consultants have the sourcing and assessment skills required to effectively dig into whether candidates offer both the skill-set and culture fit that each individual client requires,” she said.
Fierce Competition for Talent
The economic strength of the non-profit sector has been increasing and the sector is now the third largest employer in the U.S. Nearly two million non-profit organizations employ 10.7 million people and produce revenue in excess of $1.9 trillion.
And hiring among non-profits continues to grow. According to the 2016 ‘Non-Profit Salaries & Staffing Report’ by PNP Staffing Group, more than 50 percent of hiring managers are reporting staff increases. The report found that the non-profit sector has grown by 20 percent over the last 10 years.
“We continue to see fierce competition for talent across the non-profit sector,” said Ms. Brennan. “Boards of directors are looking for leaders who can deliver measurable results, who offer a track record of managing people and organizations, and who can present a mission with conviction.”
She and her colleagues are also seeing an increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion from their non-profit clients, “who are working to build more inclusive organizations and ensure that recruitment efforts net diverse pools of candidates,” she said.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media and Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media