October 12, 2017 – Non-profit executive recruiters Higher Talent has appointed Mindy Cohen as president and managing partner.
Ms. Cohen has been instrumental in establishing the firm’s dedication to educational institutions and non-profits across the country over the past 15 years.
She has recruited senior executives, nationally and internationally, for non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, public/private partnerships and Fortune 500 companies.
As co-founder and president of Higher Talent, Ms. Cohen oversees executive search operations, training and client management, according to the firm. She also implements new technologies, including a candidate tracking system that increases workflow efficiency and enables clients to track the status of searches in real time. She has designed and developed process, infrastructure and workflow/methodology structures and has trained and mentored recruiters in the executive search industry.
Ms. Cohen has also recruited, coached and placed chief development officers, chief marketing and communications officers, senior academic medical and healthcare philanthropy professionals, and industry-university partnership leaders and liaisons. Her focus areas are advancement, communications and corporate partnerships, and she has worked with some of the most highly regarded non-profits, academic medical centers, private universities and colleges, and large public state and land-grant institutions.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Cohen founded VentureSearch, D.C., which focused on the fast-growing technology and biotech industries. She previously served as director, business development & recruiting, at Dinte Resources. In the late-1980s, she worked with search firms Eastman & Beaudine and Heidrick & Struggles.
Ms. Cohen recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media and discussed recruiting top talent for the non-profit sector:
Mindy, what are some recent trends you’ve witnessed within executive search for the non-profit sector?
The non-profit space is catching up a bit to the pace of search and recruiting in other industries and is now expecting searches to be done more efficiently and cost-effectively. This means, among other things, that the effective adaptation of technology and process is now part of the search process. It does not replace professional judgment, of course, but it does streamline certain repetitive processes. Also, price, transparency and closer collaboration between search firms and client stakeholders are also changing. While cultural fit has always been important, non-profits are starting to pay more attention to tools that were once only used in the corporate space such as personality and style analysis assessments and presentations/case studies for finalist candidates. Non-profits are competing harder for donor dollars, so they are beginning to adopt many of the operating procedures of their donor base and becoming more business-oriented in conducting search. The ROI on hiring good fundraising professionals is huge.
Can you discuss the current non-profit talent supply and demand curve?
Our focus at Higher Talent is in placing top fundraising/development and marketing/communications professionals. The world of raising private philanthropic dollars has continued to increase as the local/state/federal funding decreases. But there’s also more competition for donors and top talent to identify, cultivate and steward them. Most top talent does not look at or answer job postings. It takes a concerted effort of proactive outreach to specific folks you want to recruit and/or network with. Supply and demand are different for every functional area within the fundraising world, for example, gift planning and annual giving are areas where demand far outweighs supply. And for senior leadership positions, finding the exact combination of experiences and the right leadership style for your organization sometimes take outreach to well over 400-500 individuals.
For the marketing/communications functional area, this is where we see more and more folks coming from industry; supply seems to somewhat outweigh demand, although there is now a need for professionals in this area to have both traditional marketing skills coupled with contemporary/digital and predictive modeling/data analytical skills. And of course it takes a human touch to uncover whether someone will be a good fit within an organization’s culture. This is consistent with the post-2008 financial crisis changed business dynamic that expects “better, faster cheaper” and “more with less.” We have to be responsive to that, too.
We have seen a lot of non-profits plucking talent from the corporate world, why would this be an appeal path for business executives?
“In our ever-changing world, I believe people are searching for a more meaningful life path and a way of giving back and fueling their passions.”
For many who have already maximized their marketplace value, a mission-driven organization is just what they need and where they can add the most value. We have also seen that more non-profits are “behaving” like for-profits and are able to attract talent from the corporate market space. Especially in the marketing/communications functional area, where branding and marketing/differentiating themselves are essential to the continued existence of many organizations.
Can you share some recent searches you are working on or have been involved with for the non-profit sector?
Representative current and recent searches include: VP and chief development officer for Sheppard Pratt Health System; senior director of development, health sciences for University of California, San Diego; SVP of strategic communications at National Parks Conservation Association; associate dean for institutional advancement and alumni affairs, Cardozo School of Law; senior director of development, gift planning, University of California, Riverside; and director of annual giving, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media