January 3, 2018 – The non-profit sector has gained economic strength in recent years, making it the third largest employer in the country. Nearly two million not-for-profits employ 10.7 million people and produce $1.9 trillion in revenue. In the past decade, employment in the sector has grown by 17 percent. With demand for non-profit talent at an all-time high, search firms have no shortage of work looking for candidates.
In one recent example, executive search firm BoardWalk Consulting helped in the placement of Jennifer Blatz as president and CEO of StriveTogether, a national non-profit working to improve education for children. She succeeds co-founder Jeff Edmondson.
The comprehensive national search was conducted by an eight-person search committee of StriveTogether board members, long-time investors, executive directors of two local cradle-to-career partnerships as well as BoardWalk Consulting.
Launched in July, the search involved contacting nearly 370 sources and prospects from multiple sectors, including education (K-12 and higher education), philanthropy, the corporate sector, operating non-profits (including StriveTogether cradle-to-career partnerships), consulting organizations and government leaders at local, state and federal levels. Consulting a vetted list of several dozen prospects, the search committee met multiple times with a group of six finalists before making its recommendation to the board of directors.
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Ms. Blatz has served the organization as interim CEO since July and has been affiliated with StriveTogether and its predecessor organizations since 2001. She has championed StriveTogether’s cradle-to-career goals since 2001, when she began as a program officer with KnowledgeWorks. As StriveTogether gained momentum, Ms. Blatz progressed through several roles.
“Jennifer Blatz is the perfect choice to lead StriveTogether through the next phase of its impact across the country,” said Nancy Zimpher, board chair and a co-founder of StriveTogether. “That she prevailed in an extensive and comprehensive executive search that considered an exceptional slate of contenders makes her appointment all the more compelling.”
Danae Davis, chair of the CEO search committee and executive director of Milwaukee Succeeds, said that Ms. Blatz has long been a key player for StriveTogether. “Jennifer Blatz has been integral to every success StriveTogether has achieved on behalf of the children and communities we serve,” she said. “We are so very pleased that someone so central to the movement as Jennifer is should be tasked to lead the organization.”
Mr. Edmondson said he considered it a privilege to have partnered with Ms. Blatz for more than 15 years. “Her professional growth has been inspiring,” he said. “She has been a constant and committed force in leading innovative and impactful work to improve outcomes for children from cradle to career. I am confident the influence of her leadership will only continue to grow. Jennifer is an ideal choice.”
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“Succeeding a founder is an awesome responsibility, but so are the opportunities ahead,” Ms. Blatz said. “I have benefitted enormously from working alongside Jeff Edmondson for many years in a uniquely productive partnership. With both of us in new roles, I look forward to discovering new ways to leverage our shared commitment to improved educational outcomes.”
Non-Profit Search Firm
BoardWalk Consulting, a national search firm that specializes in recruiting CEOs and senior leaders for non-profits and foundations, has led upwards of 200 searches for over 110 clients in 27 states since its inception. The firm has completed several searches for Year Up, placing executive directors in locations across the country, including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami and Chicago. Other searches include CEOs for Gateway Center, Partners For Home, Goodwill of North Georgia (in progress), Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Case Commons, as well as searches for an executive director at Jane Goodall Institute.
“This past year has been busy with several new and repeat clients coming in seeking new leadership,” said Crystal Stephens, a director at BoardWalk Consulting. “The strong economy and the stressed political environment seem to have combined to energize both donors and non-profits. As a result, they require best-in-class talent.”
“There is growing interest in recruiting leaders who have both corporate and non-profit experience,” she said. “Non-profits are looking for leaders who understand how to articulate a value proposition in a manner which effectively engages multiple audiences, and have demonstrated skills in dealing with diverse staff, constituents, clients and partners.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media