May 7, 2021 – Executive search and non-profit consulting firm KEES (Kistner Eddy Executive Services) has assisted in the recruitment of Kamala Martinez as the new president and CEO of the United Way of Will County, in Illinois. Mike Hennessy, after 31 years leading the non-profit, recently retired. The assignment is being led by Heather Eddy, the search firm’s president and CEO. A comprehensive search produced almost 90 highly qualified candidates with significant experience helping legacy agencies work more effectively in the more modern philanthropic world.
“We are very proud of the great work United Way has done for generations on behalf of Will County, but we recognize that the world supports charitable giving now in significantly different ways,” said Tom Hernandez, United Way board president. “We needed a leader and experienced change agent who can help us function more effectively in that ‘new world,’ redefine our agency and refocus our work so we can best serve our entire community. Kamala Martinez is that leader, and we are excited for the future of United Way.”
Ms. Martinez steps into the new role after three years as CEO of KidsMatter Foundation (Naperville), a community-wide organization with a prevention-focused health strategy to combat teenage destructive behaviors. She also has more than 25 years of private sector corporate experience, including serving as the executive director of the RR Donnelley Foundation from 2008-2017 as well as holding other positions within the Donnelley organization.
An active and engaged community leader, Ms. Martinez has served many non-profit boards, including vice president for the executive board of directors at Naperville Cable Television 17, Indian Prairie Education Foundation board of directors, Hispanic Alliance for Career Achievement (HACE) board of trustees and the Art Institute of Chicago’s corporate committee. She was the city of Naperville chair of the planning and zoning commission and served in several roles for Wheatland Township. Ms. Martinez has been active in her church with the children’s ministry, served on the finance leadership board and the PTA, and is an advocate for children’s causes and a proponent of empowering women and promoting diversity.
“I’ve had the privilege of being a part of some amazing organizations throughout my career,” said Ms. Martinez. “On May 17, a new chapter begins with United Way of Will County and I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to strengthening United Way partnerships going forward for the benefit of the communities we serve.”
In her new role, Ms. Martinez will lead the organization into a new age during a pivotal time in the organization’s history. The organization is poised to envision, design, and pursue a new strategic plan to ensure United Way is prepared to meet the evolving and diversified needs of Will County in dynamic and innovative ways, according to KEES. Ms. Martinez will be expected to provide leadership for mission affirmation, vision-setting, diversified revenue efforts, program effectiveness, and programmatic and community growth. Working closely with and reporting to a passionate board of directors committed to United Way’s mission, Ms. Martinez will be expected to address both long- and short-term goals set by the board.
Southwest of Chicago, Will County is Illinois’ fourth largest county. Established in 1936, United Way of Will County (United Way) partners Will County’s 30-plus communities and resources to empower people and create positive, sustainable change. United Way is governed by a 13-member board representing multiple industries, including banking, public and higher education, organized labor and private sector business.
KEES, based in Naperville, IL, focuses on building transformative teams and leaders in the non-profit sector. The firm was founded in 2013 as an expansion of Alford Executive Search. It is women-owned and operated and provides a wide variety of services, including executive search, specialty and interim staffing, HR consulting and leadership development.
Ms. Eddy has worked with non-profits and institutions to build capacity for more than 20 years. For the past 12 years, she has focused on strengthening executives, boards, managers, and philanthropic leaders. She co-founded KEES and leads the organization’s team after serving for 17 years in multiple executive leadership roles with the Alford Group/Alford Group Executive Search, a national consulting firm that partners with non-profits and provides fundraising and organizational strategy consulting.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media