Families First Turns to BoardWalk Consulting for New Leader

January 4, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm BoardWalk Consulting has been selected to find the next chief executive officer for Families First, a non-profit family service agency based in Atlanta. Managing director Kathy Bremer and senior associate Laura Lovelace are leading the assignment for the search firm.

Families First is seeking a CEO with proven leadership, communication and organizational skills, said the search firm, which is also located in Atlanta. The non-profit’s new leader is expected to be a strategic leader, manager and grower of people and resources. The ideal candidate will have led in operationally complex contexts, and will have authentic passion for the mission and people of Families First.

The CEO will partner with a 23-member board of directors and a leadership team comprised of longtime staff and recent hires, said BoardWalk Consulting. The non-profit is currently led by interim CEO Marybeth Leamer, retired executive vice president of human resources at Cox Enterprises and a former board chair.

A Strong Organization

The next CEO of Families First will lead an organization with significant strengths, potential and challenges, said BoardWalk Consulting. The CEO will be a credible, inspiring, strategic leader and bring proven leadership and organizational skills. The individual is also expected to be an outstanding listener, thought leader, unifier and communicator. The CEO will bring a combination of big-picture thinking and operational savvy to the challenge of developing and defining Families First vision, strategy and focus areas, and will be a strong partner for the board and staff.

The CEO will be charged with managing the business of this complex, operational non-profit, said the search firm. Families First’s next leader should have experience leading in relevant organizational contexts with significant human, programmatic and physical assets, complicated financials and funding streams, technology and organizational development needs. He or she must have financial savvy and experience with business planning, forecasting, systems and processes, among other strengths.

BoardWalk Consulting described the next CEO as “a compelling, strategic and passionate leader of complex mission, operations and teams.” Prospects for the role should have an authentic leadership style that inspires and respects others and welcomes ideas and builds participation, said the search firm.

Characteristics Sought

Candidates should also have: the ability to hire and build an outstanding, cohesive team; high emotional intelligence, listening, communication and relationship skills; an approach that fosters confidence, transparency, clarity and stability; an ability to advocate, persuade and influence; and integrity, fairness and sound judgement.

Also required are: innovation and flexibility; business, management, finance, systems and process skills; the ability to think and act boldly, and to execute operationally; the ability to build consensus and to take tough decisions as needed; the ability to prioritize and create focus; and a sense of humor and balance.


Non-Profit Sector Opens Up New Career Path for High Performing Leaders
One of the fastest growing sectors within executive search today can be found in non-profit. Close to 150 recruiting firms specialize in some form of talent acquisition in this sector, which includes foundations, cultural institutions and academia, to name a few.


Families First, started as an orphanage in 1870, enhances the lives of thousands of people each year by delivering holistic, sustainable solutions, improving child well-being, promoting family self-sufficiency and helping to break cycles of generational poverty in replicable ways. The non-profit offers 11 core programs and 21 services, a complex mix that is both a source of pride and challenge for the organization to manage and fund. Families First has a full-time staff of about 125, many of them professionals with advanced degrees or certifications. The non-profit, which has an endowment of more than $15 million, completed a $13.9 million capital campaign in 2016. Its annual budget averages $10 million.

200 Searches for 110 Clients

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, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Case Commons. The firm also helped find an executive director for the Jane Goodall Institute.

Ms. Bremer’s career spans corporate, non-profit and board leadership and management roles. Her clients include global, national and local non-profits and foundations. Prior to BoardWalk Consulting, Ms. Bremer was senior vice president of marketing and fundraising for CARE, one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations, and partner/managing director of Porter Novelli, a global communications firm.

Ms. Lovelace has served BoardWalk on numerous searches for leaders who have gone on to drive social change in their organizations and communities. She also designed and oversaw the search firm’s anniversary events and enhanced BoardWalk’s social media presence. Before joining BoardWalk, Ms. Lovelace completed a clinical counseling internship at a university counseling center. She was also a relationship manager for a global corporate real estate association, designing content and programs for over 1,000 members.

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

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