September 4, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Development Guild DDI, which focuses on the non-profit sector, has placed Evan Lewis as the new chief advancement officer of the Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (PHA) in Massachusetts. Vice president Katharine Kaplan led the assignment.
PHA wanted an executive with experience managing capital campaigns and a proven track record in major gift cultivation and solicitation, raising at least $1 million annually, said Development Guild DDI. Mr. Lewis fit the bill. He joins PHA with over 14 years of professional experience, including 12 years at Urban Prep Academies in Chicago. Mr. Lewis was a founding member at Urban Prep, where he held the titles of director of development and recruitment, vice president of advancement and chief operating officer. His work has been highlighted by national media entities, including in the award-winning PBS documentary, All the Difference.
In his new role, Mr. Lewis will report to Angela Allen, head of school, and serve on the senior leadership team, leading all fundraising efforts. He joins PHA during a time of continued investment in growing the development department and fundraising operation as part of the school’s growth strategy. As the first C-level development leader, Mr. Lewis will set the vision and strategy for development, while serving as a frontline fundraiser, building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders to grow Prospect Hill’s impact.
One of the oldest and largest Massachusetts charter schools, Prospect Hill Academy serves nearly 1,200 students in grades K to 12 from diverse racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. PHA, located in Somerville and Cambridge, is a college preparatory school and focuses on teaching students the academic knowledge and skills and the social and emotional competencies required to succeed in college and beyond.
Development Guild DDI, which has offices in New York and Boston, was founded in 1978. The firm helps clients align leadership around a strategic vision with its planning, executive search and fundraising services. The firm works with non-profits nationwide, partnering with leaders in academic medicine, higher education, arts and culture, human services and others.
Development Guild’s clients, which number more than 500, have included: Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, College of the Holy Cross, Partners in Health, University of Rhode Island Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Cancer Society.
Ms. Kaplan specializes in executive search, leading client projects and serving as a senior member of the search firm’s candidate outreach team. Some of her clients have included: Bancroft School, Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, Simmons College, Beaver Country Day School, Northeastern University, From the Top, Carroll Center for the Blind, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Salvation Army of Massachusetts and Perkins School for the Blind.
Why Recruiters Center On Fundraising Skills
Organizations nationwide are under pressure to find leaders who can act as de facto chief fundraisers – and recruiters are in lock step to find talent to satisfy the demand. These leaders need to be strategic thinkers who can motivate the stakeholders whose philanthropy pulls everything together.
Prior to Development Guild DDI, Ms. Kaplan’s professional work focused on arts fundraising, including serving as assistant director of major gifts at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She studied English literature and women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts and holds certifications in planned giving and futures and options trading.
Advancement and Fundraising
The field of advancement is an extension of development/fundraising. Over the past two decades, educational institutions and charitable groups have shifted toward more integrated models of collaboration between communications, marketing, branding and development. Advancement represents the full integration of these functions under a single leader, the chief advancement officer. A recent search on LinkedIn of the title generated more than 30,000 results.
Advancement talent is being groomed all around the field and within organizations that understand the direct connectivity between messaging and contributed revenue, say recruiters. The function is only relevant to the non-profit and education sectors. In corporate setting, such executives are commonly referred to as chief development officers or a chief business development officer.
In general, the best training for such roles is experience. Industry conferences and summits can also help one learn benchmarking and best practices. And while the best fit for these roles ultimately depends on the culture of the organization, recruiters say that “tenacity and drive” are two traits always necessary for successful advancement and development officers.
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