March 2, 2022 – After a rigorous national search, Diversified Search Group | Koya Partners has assisted in the recruitment of Kendra E. Davenport as president and chief executive officer of Easterseals. Alison Ranney, managing partner and CEO practice co-lead, led the assignment along with Corina Benitz, vice president and senior associate; Tiara D. Muse, VP and senior search associate; and Alison Salisbury, senior search associate.
“Kendra’s strong record of accomplishment as a leader and senior executive makes her the right person to lead Easterseals as we enter our second century of service in responding to the needs of children and adults with disabilities throughout America,” said Alicia Georges, chair, Easterseals national board of directors. “Her capacity to lead complex organizations will serve us well as we advance a strategic vision for our future in areas of priority including advocacy, network advancement, brand management, and resource development in partnership with our 70 Affiliates which collectively serve 1.5 million people annually.”
Ms. Davenport brings more than three decades of experience working exclusively in the nonprofit arena. She has managed several national development and communications portfolios, served as president of a nonprofit serving veterans’ families, and was a philanthropy and communications consultant to several national and international non-profit organizations. Most recently, Ms. Davenport managed multichannel global philanthropy efforts as chief development officer of Operation Smile, an international non-profit medical organization that provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgery. Her role included corporate, mass market, direct response and digital fundraising, major gifts and planned giving, community engagement, special events and partnerships, private sector grants and government relations.
Working closely with C-suite industry leaders, Ms. Davenport has designed and implemented a myriad of mutually beneficial initiatives including point-of-purchase sales programs, co-branded marketing and advertising campaigns, and a host of special events. As philanthropy has evolved, she has helped numerous nongovernmental organizations diversify their philanthropic portfolios to keep pace with change and growth by utilizing technology.
Ms. Davenport possesses extensive management experience, having overseen more than 1,000 international staff across eighteen sub-Saharan countries while working for Africare, one of the largest African American founded and led nonprofits at the time. Much of Ms. Davenport’s career has been dedicated to facilitating the provision of critical services and interventions with organizations that include the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance, Goodwill Industries and The Arc Montgomery County.
“In many ways, I believe I have spent my entire career preparing for this role,” said Ms. Davenport. “I am eager to work collaboratively with Easterseals Affiliates nationwide to achieve 100 percent equity, inclusion and access for people with disabilities in their communities. I also look forward to championing Easterseals’ commitment to provide training, placement, and ultimately employment for people with disabilities, as well mature workers and veterans transitioning from the military to private sector employment. It is my great privilege and honor to lead Easterseals at the national level, and I look forward to building on its impressive legacy.”
Through its national network of 67 affiliates in 47 states, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground support to more than 1.5 million people each year—from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, to medical rehabilitation and employment programs, to veterans’ services and more. The organization is headquartered in Chicago.
Diversified Search Group is a family of firms serving specialized sectors. The firm was founded almost five decades ago for the express purpose of placing diverse candidates in client organizations. Koya Partners is a part of the Diversified Search Group and is dedicated to mission-driven leadership. Koya works broadly at the senior-most levels of the mission-driven field in philanthropy, social services, arts and culture, and social justice, among others.
Last year, Koya was acquired by Diversified Search. With the combination of revenues and resources, Diversified Search and Koya now represent one of the largest non-profit and higher education practices in the executive search industry.
Ms. Ranney specializes in leading CEO, president, executive director, and other senior executive searches for mission-driven clients across the country and around the world. She co-leads the CEO practice of Diversified Search Group with CEO Dale Jones. In addition to the Detroit Zoo CEO search, she has led searches top assignments for the Museum of Science & Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Fidelity Foundations, Easterseals National, and many others.
Alison Ranney and Kara Teising co-led the search that placed Hayley Murphy, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta, in the top job at one of Michigan’s leading attractions. Dr. Murphy’s excellence as a zoo executive and as a scientist are expected to help the Detroit Zoo continue growing as a respected animal and environmental research institution. Let’s go inside the search.
Ms. Benitz came to Diversified as a research associate in 2018. Prior to entering the executive search field, she worked as a development associate for the board of directors of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Ms. Muse brings a broad range of search experience in the private, non-profit, and public sectors to her clients. She leverages her expertise in C-suite leadership to partner with clients and guide candidates as a member of firm’s CEO practice. She also advises clients seeking to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion.
Ms. Salisbury works closely with search teams to recruit senior executives to mission-driven clients. She supports all aspects of the search process with a focus on project management, candidate development and client engagement. A passion and commitment to social impact is integral to her work.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media