Biophysical Society Taps Sterling Martin for Executive Officer

December 4, 2018 – The Biophysical Society has retained Sterling Martin Associates to help find its next executive officer. The Rockville, MD-based non-profit is seeking a senior executive leader within a scientific, professional society or other professional membership association. Leading the assignment for Sterling Martin are David S. Martin, CEO and managing partner; Leigh Beal, senior associate; and Tricia Bork Canavan, senior consultant.

The executive officer is the international scientific society’s chief staff executive. The individual is responsible for ensuring that the organization serves the needs and interests of its membership in accordance with the society’s stated purpose to lead development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics, said Sterling Martin. The leader implements the strategic goals and objectives of the organization, and, with the president (chief volunteer officer), enables its council to fulfill its governance function. The executive officer gives direction and leadership toward the achievement of the society’s philosophy, mission, strategy, goals and objectives.

Under the broad direction of the group’s council, the executive officer is responsible for a range of duties in areas that include: strategy and planning; governance, compliance and risk management; external relations; program development and advocacy; organizational culture; and financial management and performance.

Candidate Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have been a senior executive leader within a scientific, professional society or other professional membership association, said Sterling Martin. Specific qualifications include: a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (master’s degree preferred); experience as a senior executive having worked in a similar or larger size organization; a minimum of seven years of leadership/management experience in a scientific professional society or non-profit membership association; and experience working with a non-profit governing board on matters involving strategy and vision; and a proven track record of strategic leadership and accomplishment of annual goals.

Other qualifications include: a high-level customer service orientation, exhibiting both internal hospitality and external member satisfaction; strong financial management and strategic insight to deliver on the strategic initiatives through the development of programs and services; and being a strategic and analytical thinker who sees the big picture and motivates staff, volunteers, donors and key constituents toward a common vision. General knowledge of global scientific publication issues would be a plus.

The Biophysical Society wants an executive officer who will act ethically and adhere to the non-profit’s mission and core values, said Sterling Martin. The individual should be a unifier, with the ability to assess the organization’s current position and build strategies to advance it rapidly and strategically. The next executive officer should also have the ability to foster trust and build a sense of a shared purpose and commitment with the council, staff, volunteer leaders and key influencers.

An International Society

Other personal and professional qualities for the role include: the ability to react appropriately and strategically to key external trends and market demands; the ability to guide and mentor others in performing effectively and in providing professional development opportunities; an affinity for networking outside and within the organization and the field to build positive strategic relationships to further the society’s strategic plan; the ability to address problems and challenges, use critical-thinking in moving beyond the standard methods and solutions; and the practice of life-long learning and a willingness to implement new concepts, technologies and methods.


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The Biophysical Society is an international scientific society whose purpose is to lead the development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. Founded in 1958, the society consists of over 9,000 members in academia, government and industry. Overseas members currently comprise over one third of the group’s total members. Its budget is about $5 million.

Sterling Martin Associates, established in 2006, focuses on finding leaders for associations and non-profit organizations. The firm has been engaged by over 150 clients throughout the U.S. Its staff consists of professionals located in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Orange County, CA. Eighty-five percent of the firm’s searches are for roles at the CEO/executive director level with the balance being for senior staff.

Non-Profit Specialists

Mr. Martin started his executive search career in 1989 after spending eight years in the corporate world. For nearly 30 years, he has led complex executive search projects throughout the U.S. As CEO, he guides the firm’s overarching business strategy while maintaining a lead role on multiple national projects each year. He has held senior-level positions with such global search firms as Korn Ferry and has launched new offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Irvine, CA.

Ms. Beal focuses primarily on recruiting senior-level leadership for associations and non-profit organizations. She developed her recruiting skills working for an executive search firm for non-profit boards. Her clients have ranged from start-up organizations to some of the most established names in the non-profit community.

Ms. Bork Canavan, specializes in establishing strong relationships with clients, search committees, boards of directors, volunteers and other stakeholders. She is an expert in candidate identification, recruitment and organizational assessment. She has successfully completed searches for more than 40 organizations during her nine years in the executive search field.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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