Positive Coaching Alliance Taps Odgers Berndtson for CEO Search
May 3, 2019 – The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) has partnered with Greg Santore and Jennifer Biehn of Odgers Berndtson to assist with the national search for the non-profit’s next leader. Jim Thompson, the group’s founder and CEO, is stepping down after 20 years.
“Jim has given so much to the organization and the community,” said search chair and national board member Karen Francis DeGolia. “We have very big shoes to fill. A search like this will draw national attention, and we felt it important to conduct the search with outside experts to enable a nationwide assessment of candidates.”
The CEO will be expected to champion PCA’s mission and articulate a clear vision for the organization, said Odgers Berndtson. The individual will be charged with creating, along with the board and others, a vision and strategy for PCA that is highly focused. Key initiatives include fundraising, program content and delivery, partnership sales, grants, and corporate and sports sponsorships. “The new leader will drive innovation in the organization to ensure PCA is connecting with the constituency it serves in a relevant and contemporary way and remains the leading voice for a positive experience in youth sports,” said the search firm.
PCA wants a charismatic and visionary CEO to continue the mission and momentum built by its founder. “As the voice for the organization, they must be passionate about the mission, have exceptional communication skills and be a visionary for PCA,” Odgers Berndtson said. “As the organization looks to the future and continues to be a positive voice for youth sports, the CEO will, with help from the board and the team, lead the development and implementation of the strategic plan for the future.”
In addition, the successful candidate must be an external facing leader with the energy to move the organization forward and tackle the challenges of the ever-changing world of youth sports. “They will possess excellent communication and relationship-building skills as is required to inspire a mission-driven organization that promotes positivity,” said Odgers Berndtson. “Experience at the leadership level of a complex organization is absolutely necessary. The CEO will have the opportunity to lead an already respected organization that has enjoyed success and has significant influence on youth sports.”
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Positive Coaching Alliance’s mission is to develop better athletes through resources for youth, high school and collegiate sports coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes. The non-profit offers more than 1,500 free audio-video and printable tips and tools. It has also partnered with about 3,500 schools and youth sports organizations nationwide to deliver live group workshops, online courses and books by Mr. Thompson that help those involved in youth and high school sports create a positive, character-building youth sports culture.
Odgers Berndtson delivers executive search, leadership assessment and development strategies to organizations globally. The firm’s 250-plus partners cover more than 50 sectors and operate out of 59 offices in 29 countries. The U.S. wing of the firm launched in 2011, and under the stewardship of Steve Potter, CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S., has become one of the fastest growing search firms in the Americas. Odgers Berndtson currently has U.S. offices in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
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Mr. Santore, head of the firm’s U.S. sports leadership practice, works closely with Odgers Berndtson’s education practice’s collegiate athletics initiatives across all divisions. He was previously a principal and head of the sports leadership practice at Witt/Kieffer, where he recruited athletics directors and coaches for many academic institutions, including Yale, University of California at Berkeley, the College of William & Mary, Tufts University and others. He also has experience recruiting executives for sports foundations, national governing bodies and other sports and entertainment-related organizations. Before starting in executive search, Mr. Santore held leadership positions as CEO, COO and president in the orthopedic rehab, sports medicine and technology fields.
Ms. Biehn is a partner in the higher education and sports practices in Odgers Berndtson’s Denver office. Her search work in education spans across the academy to include presidents, chancellors, professional school deans, business officers, advancement and athletics leadership. Her experience includes C-suite and senior-level engagements for a variety of organizations across higher education, sports and not-for-profit. Prior to joining Odgers, she was co-leader of the higher education practice for DHR International.
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Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media