Jill De Forest

Founder & CEO

From an early age, Jill knew she was an entrepreneur—she started her working life at 13, selling her bespoke fashion accessories and home décor to local merchants in Manhattan Beach. It was not long before Jill realized she could scale this business by outsourcing the design work to her creative middle-school colleagues and focus her creative energy on gaining distribution. Jill took this business savvy, obtaining her real estate license and began selling real estate at 19. She loved finding buyers their dream homes, serving as a trusted “connector” in the Beach Cities for several years. She intuitively pivoted to connecting people with careers.

Now a passionate recruiter, Jill joined a local employment agency, Apple One. In two years of earning the coveted Top Producer of the Year, she realized her ability to fuse an entrepreneurial passion with her love of recruiting, founding Sawyer & Associates Personnel Service. Sawyer & Associates grew into a Southern California recruiting stalwart, employing over 300 recruiters servicing multi-site temp and perm staffing roles. After 9 years, Jill sold her business and joined Mattel as a Senior Talent Acquisition Leader. Jill transitioned to placing mid-management through executive level talent while understanding the nuances of a complex multinational organization.

Impassioned to take her executive level experience into a new venture, Jill founded De Forest Search over 25 years ago. Under Jill’s leadership, De Forest Search has grown into a nationally recognized recruitment firm and has been successful placing thousands of mid-management through senior executive roles in almost every major city in the US in a variety of industries including lifestyle consumer products and experiences, Web and App based SAAS Direct to Consumer products & services and industrial manufacturing.

Jill is a proud member of the Woman Presidents Organization and the Culture Marketing Council. In 2017, Jill had the honor of participating in an accelerated Harvard Business School Program dedicated to an elite group of successful women entrepreneurs in WPO, led by Harvard Business School Professor Lynda M. Applegate.
Jill is beyond grateful for the support of her amazing team, clients, family and friends. It takes a village and Jill is well-aware that surrounding herself with like-minded, driven and positive people is the key to success. It has been a long journey of ups and downs, risks and rewards, successes and hardships, but Jill is very happy in the place that she is and covets the relationships that she has built.