Spencer Stuart Tapped by the National Council on Aging to Find CEO

February 19, 2020 – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has retained Spencer Stuart to lead a national search for its next president and CEO. Current president and CEO James Firman announced late last year his plans to retire from the organization after 25 years of service. He will continue to lead NCOA until a successor has been appointed. Consultants Jennifer Heenan and Leslie Hortum are leading the assignment.

The NCOA board of directors has formed a search committee, which will partner with Spencer Stuart to conduct a comprehensive review of candidates. The Spencer Stuart team includes senior consultants from both the healthcare services and not-for-profit practices.

NCOA wants leaders who can inspire the organization’s strategic vision and cultivate strong public-private partnerships to drive systemic change in how America serves the changing needs of its older citizens, said Spencer Stuart. The CEO will have responsibility for a $63 million budget as well as for an 85-person staff at the D.C. metro area national office. The CEO, in conjunction with staff, works with the board in delivering the mission, strategic plan, financial goals and assurance of proper dedication of resources. The CEO, along with staff, also serves as an informed advocate for addressing unmet needs and opportunities to improve the lives of older adults through innovative programs, services and public policies.

“We are excited that the search for our next CEO is officially underway,” said James Knickman, chair of the NCOA board of directors. “NCOA has emerged as a force for social change and a pioneer in groundbreaking programs and policies that have redefined what aging means in America. The board is committed to finding the highest quality candidate with the experience and passion to build on the impact our organization has made for nearly 70 years. We have ambitious goals and are committed to finding the right individual to lead us into the future.”

The National Council on Aging works to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, its mission has been to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, the organization is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030.

Serving Healthcare Organizations

Spencer Stuart has helped build the leadership teams of some of the world’s preeminent healthcare organizations. In the past three years, the firm has conducted more than 2,000 board director and senior-level executive assignments around the world, across all healthcare disciplines. With a reach extending beyond geographies, Spencer Stuart searches across disciplines, even outside the healthcare sector, to find candidates in emerging areas to help clients respond to changing industry dynamics. The firm has a special expertise in all facets of healthcare, including biopharma, healthcare services and medical technology.


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Ms. Heenan is a consultant in Spencer Stuart’s Los Angeles office and a member of the firm’s healthcare practice. With 20 years of healthcare consulting, strategic planning, business development and marketing experience, she works with healthcare institutions across the continuum including healthcare systems, academic health sciences universities, physician organizations, payers and healthcare associations to identify and recruit executive leaders. Ms. Heenan is a recipient of the firm’s prestigious Lou Rieger Quality Award for high quality work on behalf of her clients.

Ms. Hortum manages Spencer Stuart’s Washington, D.C., office and is a member of the firm’s education, non-profit and government practice, focusing on recruiting and assessing senior leaders in associations and nonprofits. She advises trade associations and mission-driven organizations and boards on how they can enhance value for members and constituents, advance their advocacy agenda, and find the leaders to succeed in a changing landscape. Before entering the search industry, Ms. Hortum spent 20 years in association management, culminating in her appointment as the first woman senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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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