Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation Turns to Hanold Associates to Fill Directorships

The director roles on this illustrious board will focus on sustaining and extending the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy through educating on human rights, social justice and influencing responsible investing. Let’s take a closer look.

September 30, 2019 – Seasoned board directors are considered the backbone of organizations, with the best ones implementing gold standards that filter throughout an organization. The latest institution seeking to fill multiple board seats is the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation, which has turned to Hanold Associates for guidance. The board is chaired by Vista Equity Partners CEO Robert Smith, and includes Tim Cook of Apple, John Rogers of Ariel Capital Investments, the actor Martin Sheen, singer and activist Harry Belafonte and Ethel Kennedy, among others.

“It’s an honor partnering with the Kennedy family for such a wonderful purpose and mission,” said Neela Seenandan and Jason Hanold, co-CEOs and co-managing partners of the recruitment firm, jointly. They are leading the assignment along with partners Keri Gavin and Sandra Pena.

“This is an incredibly unique board opportunity because of the cause and mission focused on improving corporations and governments, in the United States and around the world, to educate on human rights, social justice and influence responsible investing,” Mr. Hanold said. The board meets in-person three times annually, in locations ranging from Apple’s new headquarters to the Vatican to the June meeting in Hyannis Port at the Kennedy Compound.

“We have a strong relationship with the Kennedy family, and admire their commitment to giving back and public service,” said Mr. Hanold. “This is our way of contributing in a meaningful way to an already outstanding organization. Kerry Kennedy is a terrific partner on the search.” While the board composition includes leaders from corporate, government and the human rights sectors, the search firm has been handed a fresh mandate to focus on expanding the board’s corporate leadership representation.

Shared Dedication

All directors of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation share a dedication to sustaining and extending the legacy of Robert Kennedy by promoting and advancing the work of the organization and assuring its financial stability and vitality as it fulfills its mission.

“Each director is expected to make a significant commitment to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights that best reflects his or her resources and interests, including active participation in both the work of the board and committees and the special events and fundraising activities of the organization,” Hanold Associates said. “Directors are entrusted with duties and responsibilities of stewardship and have both a fiduciary and moral obligation to the center.”

Further principal responsibilities of the directors cited by Hanold Associates include:

  • Steer the organization’s mission through strategic planning and implementation. Each director participates in the creation and implementation of strategic plans to fulfill the mission of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

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  • Support the creation and implementation of policies. Directors ensure effective organizational policy development through active involvement in the process, assuming leadership positions when asked, serving on committees and task forces and undertaking special assignments willingly and enthusiastically, and bringing whatever relevant talents and skills they have to the tasks at hand.
  • Prepare for, attend and participate in board meetings. Directors carefully prepare for and actively and constructively participate in board and committee meetings, deliberations and decision-making.
  • Advocate publicly for the organization. Directors attend RFK Human Rights activities and special events.
  • Exercise financial prudence and due diligence. Directors evaluate and monitor programmatic and financial decisions together.
  • Ensure legal and ethical integrity. Directors perform their duties responsibly and conform to the high level of competence and ethical behavior expected of board members.
  • Grow the board and assure consistency and continuity of leadership. Directors help to identify and recruit potential candidates of distinction for board membership who can make significant contributions to the work of the board and the progress of the organization and assist in orienting new directors.
  • Engage in appropriate and constructive relationships with the staff. Directors counsel and support the executive director as appropriate and voice any concerns regarding RFK Human Rights administration and management to that person, avoiding such conversations with the other seven staff members.
  • Evaluate board and personal performance.

Human Rights Advocacy Organization

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation is a non-profit human rights advocacy organization. It was named after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, a few months after his assassination. The organization works to support recipients of the RFK Human Rights Award, and supports investigative journalists and authors through the RFK Book and Journalism Awards. It is led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy and its programs have pursued strategic litigation on key human rights issues, educated millions of students in human rights advocacy, and fostered a social good approach to business and investment.

Hanold Associates is quite involved with the Kennedy family, and serves on the host committee for the upcoming Robert F Kennedy Human Rights gala dinner in December. This year’s event honors Wendy Abrams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, J.K. Rowling and Glen Tullman for being inspiring leaders of change.

Veteran Recruiters

Hanold Associates, based in Evanston, IL, is a boutique search firm specializing in HR officer assignments and those associated with private equity concerns. Mr. Hanold founded the firm in 2010. Its clients include Patagonia, Nike, the NFL, eBay, Cummins, Kohler, REI, Google, Riddell, Fossil, Carnival Corp., the UFCBlue Apron, Amazon, Under ArmourLas Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Vail Resorts, Abbott, Biogen, Great Place to Work, Electronic Arts, Godiva, Fiat-Chrysler, Bridgestone, Northwestern University, Heinz, Warburg Pincus, Medtronic, Zurich, Wikipedia, T. Rowe Price and SC Johnson, to name a few.

Ms. Seenandan is focused on leading senior-level professional services and HR leadership assignments at Hanold. She joined the firm from Nielsen where she was senior vice president of human resources responsible for the North America consumer.


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Ms. Gavin focuses on recruiting HR leaders in talent acquisition, organizational development, talent management, operations and total rewards. Her signature strength is said to be her relationship-building skills. She was previously director of host relations and customized training for Ragan Communications.

Ms. Pena focuses on the recruitment of human resource professionals across industries including learning and development, talent management, HRBP, total rewards, talent acquisition, organizational development and diversity and inclusion. Prior to joining Hanold Associates, she was an executive recruiter for Korn Ferry where she specialized in the recruitment of chief financial officers and finance executives.

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

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