Peña Search Seeks New Leader for Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

September 15, 2023 – Peña Search has been retained by the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) to head its search for a new executive director. Bill Holston is stepping down from his role after 11 years at the helm. Travis Hillier and Cindy Maloney are leading the assignment. 

HRI is seeking a dynamic successor to compassionately lead a committed team and board into the future, developing a vision to grow HRI’s strong local and national reputation in pro-bono immigration and asylum law. The ideal chief executive will leverage experience to devise a multi-year strategic plan focused on shoring up successes while stressing future sustainability. This requires that the next leader brings several key traits, the first of which is solid business acumen to structure and oversee business operations in a streamlined and fiscally sound manner, said Peña Search.

Next, the ability to attract philanthropic and pro-bono legal services support to continue to grow the organization’s mission and impact is essential. Finally, the successful candidate will possess robust management skills to evaluate and structure personnel to best position HRI to meet its clients’ diverse needs.

Reporting to the board of directors and supervising a staff of 17, the executive director oversees 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. In parallel, the successful candidate will optimize and manage business functions carried out by staff or vendors in keeping with that same strategic plan, according to the search firm.

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.

Proven 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 Key Leaders for Two Texas Non-Profits

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 Seeks VP of HR for The Meadows Foundation
Peña Search has been retained by The Meadows Foundation to lead its search for a vice president of human resources. Travis Hillier and Cindy Maloney are leading the assignment. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of handling complex situations and multiple responsibilities simultaneously, balancing short–and–long–term planning and projects with the urgency of immediate demands. They should demonstrate the ability to be proactive and mitigate risk for the organization while supporting the president and CEO in creating an engaging and values–based environment that supports the foundation’s mission for current and future staff.

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.

Recently Filled Position

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.

Since 2006, Healthy Futures of Texas has worked to reduce unplanned and teen pregnancies through science-based education and advocacy efforts that empower young people, women, and families to make the best decisions for their futures.

Related: Peña Search Seeks New Executive Director for Leadership ISD

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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