Noetic Search Seeks New Leadership for Santa Barbara and Treehouse Humane Societies

December 6, 2017 – Executive search firm Noetic Search has been tapped by the Santa Barbara Humane Society in California and Tree House Humane Society in Chicago to lead their respective searches for new executive directors. Rhyan Zweifler, Noetic’s founder and president, and Jane Luiso, vice president, are leading both searches.

The Santa Barbara Humane Society (SBHS) is looking for a highly qualified leader and manager to establish the organization as the frontrunner animal welfare organization in Santa Barbara County, said the search firm. The new leader will have an opportunity to suggest strategic changes in program focus, outside relationships and internal management arrangements.

The new executive director will also have the chance to review policies and procedures for each department and propose changes, said Noetic Search. The individual will also be asked to reassess the group’s organizational structure to ensure that he or she is able to provide staff leadership while devoting needed attention to community issues and relationships.

Although SBHS is financially sound, its board is looking to increase outside revenue to help provide additional services, said Noetic Search. In leading this membership-based organization, the new leader will be expected to help increase the number of memberships as well as consider new funding streams like foundation and corporate grants, and institute a structured planned giving program. Further, the new executive director will be able to develop new and innovative programs and services to further increase earned income for the non-profit.

Helping the Board

The new executive director is also expected to have a hand in helping the board as it pursues an organizational strategic plan. The individual is expected to undertake much needed upgrading of the facilities and grounds.

The executive director is responsible for the oversight of the SBHS, which includes administration of all programs and services, said the search firm. The new leader will develop and oversee an annual budget of $2 million. The individual will also be responsible for the strategic processes of the organization, managing and developing a paid staff of 27 and more than 60 volunteers.

The organization’s new executive director will be responsible for the overall management and operation of SBHS in compliance with board-adopted policies and with government regulations and laws. The executive director id charged with taking a leadership role in initiating and maintaining community relationships and securing the operating and investment funds necessary to sustain current and future operations.

Vision and Passion

SBHS wants a highly experienced leader and manager with demonstrated vision and passion for the humane and ethical treatment of animals, said the search firm. The individual should have a track record of strong innovative and inclusive leadership, which will facilitate open communication to harmonize staff, the board and the other constituents with whom the executive director will work, said Noetic Search.

The ideal candidate will bring strong and successful leadership of an animal welfare/control agency or other non-profit organization if there is a demonstrated level of both passion for, and involvement with, an animal welfare organization, said the recruitment firm. Candidates should demonstrate a balance between creative thinking and management acumen as well as the ability to assess and maintain policies and procedures for moving an organization to a new level of excellence. Qualified candidates will also have exceptional interpersonal skills and will be able to relate to all constituencies. This individual should demonstrate success in building and sustaining coalitions toward the achievement of goals.


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The Santa Barbara Humane Society, which started in 1887, is an independent non-profit dedicated to the welfare of animals. Specifically, the organization strives to provide a safe haven for homeless dogs and cats until homes can be found for them; educate people about humane treatment of animals; reduce the numbers of unwanted animals; and rescue animals in need.

Tree House Humane Society in Chicago

The Tree House Humane Society, founded in 1971, opened a new 15,000 square-foot shelter and clinic on the north side of Chicago in July. This modern, progressive and attractive building allows the cats in its care to live in a cage-free, comfortable and cozy environment while awaiting homes.

The organization’s board of directors determined that with the new shelter, clinic and future expansion of community services, leadership with extensive experience in animal welfare was needed, said Noetic Search. The board hired an interim executive director to assist with the immediate projects of outfitting the shelter, drafting policies and procedures for staff and establishing new protocols for services. With this work now completed, the board’s focus turned to finding a new executive director. Because the facility is so new, the new leader will have the opportunity of developing a vision and strategic plan to determine the path to success for the organization.

The job also comes with the opportunity to work closely with the board to develop and implement a board recruitment strategy, said the search firm.

The clinic is an integral program of Tree House since the animals that come to the shelter tend to be sick, injured, abused or neglected. Within the new clinic, plans include constructing a low-cost wellness clinic for the public, which would provide spay/neuter services as well as vaccinations, and which would serve both dogs and cats.  The new executive director, said Noetic Search, will have the opportunity to transform this raw space into a state-of-the art clinic for the community.

Although Tree House has development programs in place, more concentrated effort in securing new donors is needed. Corporate and foundation supporters must be identified and cultivated. Although bequests are readily received by Tree House, an organized planned giving program is needed to secure the monetary future of the agency. The new leader will be instrumental in these efforts.

The executive director is responsible for oversight of Tree House, which includes administration of all programs and services, said the recruiters. The individual will develop and oversee a budget of $2.5 million. Additionally, the executive director will be responsible for the strategic processes of the organization, managing and developing a talented paid staff of 40 and more than 150 volunteers. Those who report directly to the executive director are the director of veterinary services, director of operations, director of marketing and development and the executive assistant.

Finding Non-Profit Leaders

Tree House wants a highly experienced leader and manager with demonstrated vision and passion for the humane and ethical treatment of animals, said Noetic Search. Experience in a senior leadership role in which the individual has either reported directly to or worked closely with a board of directors is expected. The person should also demonstrate a balance between creative thinking and management acumen as well as the ability to assess and maintain policies and procedures for moving an organization to a new level of excellence. Qualified candidates are expected to have exceptional interpersonal skills and be able to relate to all constituencies. This individual should also have demonstrated success in building and sustaining coalitions.

Tree House’s mission centers around the rescue, rehabilitation, adoption of sick, injured, abused, and neglected cats. Since its founding, the organization has rescued and adopted more than 25,000 cats. Beyond that, the group has sterilized more than 30,000 animals through public spay/neuter programs as well as the Community Cats/T-N-R (trap-neuter-return) program.

Noetic Executive Search specializes in finding leaders in the non-profit sector. Its clients include animal welfare organizations, cultural institutions, foundations, and human service groups, among others.

Throughout her 30-year career, Ms. Zweifler has focused on the charity sector through her work in executive recruitment, museum management and development. She launched Noetic Search in 2010. Specializing in CEO and senior management searches, she has placed more than 170 national leaders for cultural, human service, educational and grant-making organizations. Ms. Zweifler has overseen all aspects of the search process, including marketing and sales, client management, candidate development and closing.

Ms. Luiso, who has upwards of 25 years of management experience with non-profit agencies, has held positions in the arts, education, association management and the social service sectors.

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

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