Peña Search Finds New Leader for the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

January 2, 2024 – Peña Search has assisted in the recruitment of Shalaina Abioye as the new executive director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI). Bill Holston recently stepped down from his role after 11 years at the helm. Travis Hillier and Cindy Maloney led the assignment.

Ms. Abioye joins HRI with more than a decade of experience leading immigrant-and-refugee-serving agencies. Most recently, she served as executive director for the Dallas office of the International Rescue Committee, where she launched her non-profit career in 2007. Ms. Abioye has also held leadership positions at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, and Educational First Steps. Her prior experience also includes serving as an adjunct professor and research consulting.

Reporting to the board of directors and supervising a staff of 17, Ms. Abioye will oversee all aspects of HRI operations with specific emphasis on serving as the public face of the organization in philanthropy, community engagement, and advocacy. This will entail a strategic cultivation and expansion of partnerships with funders or aligned external organizations as HRI enters its next growth phase. Ms. Abioye will optimize and manage business functions carried out by staff or vendors in keeping with that same strategic plan.

Founded in 2000 by social worker and philanthropist Serena Simmons Connelly and attorney Elizabeth Healy, the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas provides free legal assistance and social services to asylum seekers and immigrants fleeing human rights abuses. HRI’s legal services team partners with its network of pro bono attorneys to help clients access the U.S. Immigration System to gain legal status and employment authorization. HRI social services offers transitional support, case management, and referrals. Lastly, an advocacy program designed to affect systemic change is accountable and transparent to the people and communities it serves, bringing them directly into its fights and wins. HRI has a budget of approximately $1.5 million, funded primarily through private-sector giving.

Experienced Recruiters

Headquartered in Dallas, Peña Search’s specialties include: non-profit organizations, mission driven organizations, foundations, higher education, independent schools, religious organizations and educational institutions, human services organizations, museums, collective impact organizations, professional and trade associations, art culture and humanities organizations, environment and animal welfare organizations, fundraising, chief financial officers, chief executive officers, healthcare organizations, chief development officers, and advocacy organizations.

Related: Peña Search Seeks VP of HR for The Meadows Foundation

Mr. Hillier joined Peña Search in 2015. He conducts and supports searches at many different levels, and is committed to finding and placing the right leaders that will have a demonstrable impact in their communities and organizations. Mr. Hillier has search experience across a broad array of sectors and positions, bringing expertise to searches on behalf of educational organizations, those with religious affinities or affiliations, and agencies with international programmatic or fundraising components. He has also carved out a niche on the Peña Search team for his skill identifying development officers.

Peña Search Recruits Chief Development Officer for Healthy Futures of Texas
Virtually every industry needs top-drawer chief development officers. CDOs play a key role in planning, coordinating, and administering capital campaigns, corporate giving, and galvanizing new donors while keeping previous funders content. Implementing funding strategies that “keep the lights on,” according to recruiters specializing in the function, is job one. Recruiters continue to report that CDOs are in high demand. Fundraising prowess and having an ability to drive growth are essential parts of the job in nearly every competitive organization today. Recruiters generally say that the best training for these positions is experience, noting that there are many industry conferences and summits that are beneficial for benchmarking and sharing of best practices.

Peña Search recently assisted in the recruitment of Stephanie Russell as chief development officer for San Antonio-based Healthy Futures of Texas.  With over two decades of development experience working at the Senior Source, Ms. Russell is a creative, innovative results-driven leader and non-profit professional with proven strengths in fund development, donor relations, special events, project management, prospect research, and data analysis. She most recently served as chief development officer for Senior Source for more than eight years.

Since joining Peña Search, Ms. Maloney has worked on a variety of assignments, primarily focusing on C-suite executives, academic administrators, and fundraising positions. She has diverse knowledge of both the for- and non-profit sectors. Her expertise was honed not only through positions in financial services and revenue management at large companies such as American Airlines and Sabre Corp., but also in her volunteer experience on The Lamplighter School’s parent’s association board and with organizations such as Reading Partners.

Related: Peña Search Seeks Key Leaders for Two Texas Non-Profits

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments