August 7, 2020 – Diversified Search has been enlisted by the ACLU of Colorado (ACLU-CO) to find its new executive director. The assignment is being spearheaded by J. Veronica Biggins, managing partner; Denielle Pemberton-Heard, managing director and general counsel; and Corina Benitz, vice president and senior associate.
“The ACLU-CO seeks an experienced, strategic and visionary leader with a demonstrated commitment to broad community engagement and the issues impacting civil rights and civil liberties, equity, and diversity and inclusion throughout the state of Colorado,” said Diversified Search. “The executive director will possess strong organizational development, non-profit acumen, fundraising and interpersonal skills, outstanding judgment, and must be a critical thinker.”
The new executive director will determine the strategic direction of ACLU-CO and lead the development of strategies on the organization’s core priority areas, ensuring that the national office and affiliates together achieve shared performance outcomes, said the search firm. The new leader will be charged with leading the non-profit’s staff to evaluate initiatives, taking into account the financial demands, on the ground resources required, priorities of individuals and communities served by the ACLU-CO, and the alignment with the national ACLU and ACLU-CO’s organizational interests.
The executive director must be able to balance many different interests of various constituent groups and individuals, and develop relationships inside and outside the organization. The group’s next leader will be expected to “champion the affiliate’s organization’s vision, mission and values, have a proven track-record as a leader in racially and ethnically diverse and LGBTQIA friendly non-profit organizations, and have experience with change management as the ACLU-CO has been undergoing significant changes over the past few years, including but not limited to diversification of strategy and workforce,” said Diversified Search.
ACLU-CO’s new leader will partner with staff to address issues at the forefront of the non-profit including but not limited to: criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, economic justice, and privacy and surveillance, as well as future mission-related issues as they arise.
Reporting to the ACLU-CO board of directors, the executive director should be someone with change leadership experience who is confident in their leadership and adept at balancing internal management with external visibility.
Candidates must have 10 years of professional experience in the non-profit or public interest sector, said Diversified Search. Experience in another sector can be considered for an outstanding candidate. It is preferred that candidates have a bachelor’s degree.
Those applying for this role should also have demonstrated ability to innovate, adapt when faced with change, and creatively think through complexity. Proven fundraising and financial management experience with a solid track-record of success is also critical. Prospects should have a proven ability to network and develop relationships amongst diverse partners; proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and human resource experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors; and credibility and experience to connect the ACLU to resources and opportunities outside the organization.
The ACLU of Colorado, based in Denver, is one of 54 affiliates of the national ACLU. In addition to partnering with staff members from national offices and other affiliates on specific issues and projects, ACLU-CO frequently joins forces with community-based partner organizations to maximize its impact in Colorado and beyond. With over 40,000 members, staff of almost 30 and budget of over $4 million, ACLU-CO engages in litigation, lobbying, field organizing, public education, and multi-platform communications to protect and promote civil liberties, civil rights, and social justice throughout Colorado.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Diversified Search is the largest U.S. female-owned and founded firm in the executive recruitment industry. It has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Diversified is the U.S. partner of AltoPartners, an international alliance of 58 independent executive search firms that spans 35 countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
Diversified Search has worked with more than 300 educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations over a 40-year span. Its non-profit practice recruits leaders for associations, foundations, arts and culture organizations, religious groups, workforce development entities, as well as professional and social service concerns.
Ms. Biggins, who leads Diversified Search’s board practice, brings more than 15 years of search experience to the firm—including several years working in the White House. She served as assistant to the President of the United States and director of presidential personnel under Bill Clinton. She also served as vice-chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and as chairman of the Czech Slovak American Enterprise Fund. Her background includes 20 years’ experience with NationsBank (now Bank of America) and its predecessor, The Citizens, and Southern National Bank.
Ms. Pemberton-Heard joined Diversified in 2018 following 15 years as group counsel, programming and business affairs at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Before PBS, she served as group counsel for Thales Inc., a French-owned communications concern, and as vice president, legal and business affairs at Time Life. She has also held in-house positions at Discovery Communications Inc.
Ms. Benitz came to the firm 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.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media