Koya Leading CFO Search for Barack Obama Foundation

November 18, 2016 – Executive search firm Koya Leadership Partners has been retained by The Barack Obama Foundation to lead its search for a chief financial officer. Alison P. Ranney, managing director and Chicago office head, is leading the assignment on behalf of Koya.

Koya has been advising the Obama Foundation informally and formally since early 2015. Once the Obamas decided to locate the Presidential Center in Chicago, the recruiting process slowly got underway.

“Koya’s expertise and track record recruiting diverse executives aligns well with the Foundation’s core principles,” said Ms. Ranney. “We were delighted to recruit Michael Strautmanis late last year to serve as the Foundation’s first vice president of civic engagement. We are excited about the CFO opportunity and continuing our relationship with the Foundation.”

The Position

Reporting to the Foundation’s executive director, the incoming CFO will play a critical role in the development and implementation of the financial systems and strategies of the Foundation and its affiliate organizations. This will be the first senior level finance leader brought into the organization.

As a member of the senior leadership team, this C-suite financial leader will provide financial and strategic reinforcement to the executive director and board of directors in order to support the Foundation’s long-term growth and financial viability.

Candidates will likely come from a variety of backgrounds, said Ms. Ranney, including the private sector, non-profit, higher education, and/or government, among others, with proven track records of financial management experience and high standards for financial integrity. “Koya will present a diverse slate of senior finance executives,” she noted.


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The chosen leader will likely be a strategic, tactical and visionary finance leader with the ability to “deep dive” into the details of the organization while staying focused on its overall financial health. The right candidate will certainly have a passion for the mission of the Foundation and the legacy of the Obamas. It hopes to have a CFO in place by the second quarter of 2017.

The Barack Obama Foundation will be the platform for the President and First Lady’s philanthropic activities after the President leaves the White House in January. The Foundation will develop plans in collaboration with academic institutions, thought leaders, community partners and other organizations to advance its mission. The Foundation’s first major project will be the creation of the Presidential Center, designed by renowned architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The Center will create important programming, house the Obama Presidential records, and be home to a museum that tells the story of the President and First Lady.

“We are honored to partner with the Obama Foundation on this search,” said Koya’s founding partner Molly Brennan. “Our work in the non-profit  sector is intentionally broad, and has included placing CEOs and senior leaders at organizations such as Amnesty International USA, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other transformational organizations across the country and around the world.”

Non-Profit Experts

Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with non-profits and social enterprises. This year the firm was recognized as one of the top 50 search firms in the Americas by Hunt Scanlon Media.

Koya has developed a national reputation for identifying executive directors and CEOs across the sector, including those 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. Ranney specializes in serving non-profit clients and she has led searches for a range of non-profit clients at the CEO, president, executive director, provost, dean, COO, CFO and vice president levels as well as members of their boards of directors.

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 Koya chief executive Katie Bouton. “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 Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief and Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

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