April 6, 2021 – Chicago-based executive search firm DHR International has named James Abruzzo, the long-time global head of the search firm’s non-profit recruiting practice, to lead an initiative to support non-profit organizations with their succession planning needs. The need for succession planning in non-profit organizations is underscored by Mr. Abruzzo’s research of the activities of non-profit board members and CEOs. In 2020, he and DHR conducted a survey which confirmed that while four out of five non-profit board members and CEOs agree that a succession plan is “important” or “very important,” less than one in five organizations surveyed had a succession plan in place.
Research also suggested that non-profit CEOs enjoy significantly longer tenures than CEOs in the corporate sector, that leadership within the non-profit sector is aging, and the pipeline for new leaders may not meet the demand. Furthermore, some within the sector may be particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. “These factors point to the need for both emergency and long-term planning in the non-profit sector,” said the search firm. “We have identified the issue of succession planning as an important, immediate and long-term need for non-profit organizations and are developing services specifically designed for the unique needs of the arts and cultural, social service, foundation, and educational sectors,” said Mr. Abruzzo.
“While leadership consulting’s main clients have been corporations, private equity firms and multinationals, there is a great need among the non-profit sector for succession planning, coaching, and organizational development,” said Christine Greybe, president of DHR Leadership Consulting. “The pandemic has hit the non-profit sector particularly hard and we are positioning our firm to assist in any way we can.”
Mr. Abruzzo joined DHR in 2002 to launch the firm’s non-profit practice and has consulting with hundreds of clients during his 19-year tenure, including national health services organizations; universities; environment groups; arts, cultural and international relief organizations; foundations; and trade associations. Prior to DHR, Mr. Abruzzo was head of search and consulting for non-profit organizations at AT Kearney. Concurrently, he has also served on the faculty of top graduate schools, including the Free University of Berlin, the University of Bologna, Bocconi SDA in Milan, and Columbia University. Mr. Abruzzo is the founder and retired director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School and publishes extensively on the subject of non-profit leadership.
Since 1989, DHR International has been a leading, privately held provider of executive search solutions with more than 50 wholly-owned offices spanning the globe. DHR’s consultants specialize in all industries and functions, providing senior-level executive search, management assessment and succession planning services tailored to the qualities and specifications of its client base.
New Non-Profit Partnership
Just recently, DHR partnered with the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association (HBSLAA) to create “21 in ’21” – a program aimed at placing 21 Latinx executives in board roles before the end of this year. DHR will engage its Latino Diversity Network of board-ready executives and its clients to bring more Latinx executives to public and private company boards across sectors.
“It’s an honor to partner with HBSLAA on our 21 in ’21 program, demonstrating our commitment to increasing Latinx diversity in the boardroom,” said Keith Giarman, managing partner for the global private equity practice at DHR and a Harvard Business School alumnus. “The economic value of the U.S. Latino community in 2017 was $2.3 trillion, comparable to the world’s eighth-largest GDP in the world according to LDC Latino Donor Collaborative. This group will continue to drive the economy, and companies that understand the Latinx perspective will be poised to succeed.”
Leading this effort for DHR is Mr. Giarman; Christine DeYoung, managing partner for the firm’s commercial growth practice, private equity practice leader, and an HBS alumna; and Heather Smith, a partner for the firm’s global board & CEO practice. Working with them is Lizette Ibarra, managing partner of DHR’s Miami office and a leader within the firm’s diversity practice with deep connections to the Latinx community. The team brings demonstrated experience placing board directors for public and private companies across industry sectors and market capital size to drive shareholder value. They are also advocates for diverse candidates, sharing their expertise to ensure more executives are board-ready.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media