Blair Search Partners Tapped to Find CEO for the San Diego Foundation

October 23, 2018 – San Diego-based Blair Search Partners has been chosen to find the next chief executive officer for the San Diego Foundation. Principal Trevor Blair is leading the assignment.

The CEO, who will report to an 18-member board of governors, is expected to work collaboratively with board members to evolve the strategic direction of the foundation, said the search firm. The individual will be responsible for developing and managing relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. The CEO will also have overall responsibility for the operating health and well-being of the organization, including strategic planning, fundraising, fiscal management, marketing, programs and grant-making operations, among other duties.

The CEO will be charged with overseeing a senior management team of six, which will include the chief financial officer, chief investment officer, chief marketing & communications officer, chief operations officer, chief development & stewardship officer and the board liaison. The role includes a competitive base salary and an additional performance incentive of up to 15 percent.

Candidates should have senior leadership experience, preferably as a CEO of a major non-profit organization, and/or demonstration of voluntary civic leadership, governance and community engagement experience at the regional level, said the search firm, said Blair Search Partners. Corporate leadership experience would also be welcomed.

Other requirements for the role include a background in: fundraising, operations, strategic planning, coaching and mentoring, collaboration, board relations, finances and branding and communication.

Previous Experience

Prior experience creating work environments that are inclusive, productive, healthy and positive is also desired, said the search firm. The new CEO will be responsible for ensuring that the foundation’s culture fully aligns with its mission and outcomes. Experience in leading and developing an effective, collaborative and diverse management team will be essential.

The new leader should also have connectivity to San Diego, said Blair Search Partners. Candidates should have experience working within and across the region, with a deep understanding of the local history and environment, as well as a strong reputation as a community and relationship builder.

Additional qualifications include: knowledge of non-profit governance, regulatory requirements and business practices; a sound moral and ethical compass, demonstrating integrity, maintaining confidentiality and exercising discretion at all times; a strong spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship; and the ability to create and drive high-level strategy, among others.


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The San Diego Foundation manages and invests donor-advised funds for individuals, families, businesses and agencies. Through philanthropic leadership and strategic grant-making, the charity supports non-profit organizations strengthening its communities. The group collaborates with donors and partners to address the most pressing challenges in the San Diego region.

Since its founding in 1975, the foundation and its donors have granted more than $1.1 billion towards creating a vibrant San Diego region. The non-profit has a staff of 49 team members, over 460 volunteers, an operating budget of $10 million, and assets of $875 million under management.

Non-Profit Recruiters

Blair Search Partners, founded in 2016, serves corporate, non-profit and public-sector clients. In particular, the firm offers unique specialization and experience serving not-for-profit organizations of all sizes and sectors. The firm manages search engagements at all levels, including C-suite, director, manager and program/staff levels.

It has placed leaders for the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, San Diego Housing Commission, San Diego Unified Port District, Goodwill Industries, Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Workforce Partnership, among others.

Mr. Blair has nearly 20 years of experience in executive search, recruiting and workforce development. He began his career with Manpower, based in Sydney. After holding a number of client-facing and internal roles within the Australian operation, he rejoined Manpower in San Diego. He served as business development manager, then he helped build the company’s workforce development and executive search practices. During this time, he worked closely with non-profit organizations to develop training and job placement programs for groups facing barriers to employment, such as youth and veterans. He also helped secure significant government and private funding to back those programs.

As a recruiter, Mr. Blair built a significant practice at Manpower serving a range of clients in the public, non-profit and private sectors.

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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